The Legacy of Civil Servants Standing For Fairness  

By Robert J. Paterson (President and CEO of Alterna Savings)

When loan sharks were charging civil servants up to 200 per cent for payday loans, federal civil servants rallied to create The Civil Service Savings and Loans Society in 1908. 

Later it was re-chartered as the Civil Service Co-operative Credit Society (CS CO-OP). Almost 100 years later and after many mergers, we became who we are today — Alterna Savings.

We stand by our legacy of championing fair, transparent and affordable products.  Unlike big banks that focus on profit for share-holders, we’re accountable only to the 140,000-plus Ontarians who choose us.

We strive harder to save our clients money, rather than drive a profit and pad our bottom-line.

We believe in people above profits. 

The revenue we do realize goes into lowering fees, increasing interest rates and doing everything we can to improve the banking experience. That way, our members can save money faster, pay down their mortgages sooner and retire better. 

Plus, we donate a one per cent of our pre-tax profits back to the community.

An example of our 'commitment to fairness' is how we aided those impacted by the Phoenix payroll issue. 

Distraught government workers came into our branches, faced with having to make unhealthy financial decisions in order to make ends meet.

We stepped up. Whether it was to help deal with mortgage payments or other situations, we were there for them and their families.

As a co-operative financial institution, we are dedicated to the needs of those who bank with us.

Decisions are made locally. 

And that translates into a speedy and nimble process in our ability to respond when members need us most.

That’s the great thing about being a community-based organization – we’re far more flexible than the big banks. That’s why we call customers 'members.' We’re a member of their community and they are a member of Alterna. 

As a member of a credit union, you have a vote, and a say in how we operate and our direction.

At the end of the day, we answer to our members and we honestly care about their financial well-being.

Some say credit unions are better than banks but I think of them more like Fintechs. 

We always – and continue to – provide innovation in the products we develop and how we serve our members. 

Forrester, in fact, has rated our mobile banking solution as No. 1 in North America three years in a row. That’s because in addition to investing in our communities, we invest in technology.

Canadians are some of the most digital savvy consumers in the world but their access to leading edge solutions has often lagged.  

Credit unions deliver because their investment decisions are based on what improves our members’ banking experience. 

Ottawa is an amazing city and it’s where our head office is located. 

With branches available across Ontario, and with a click or a phone call away, our members have access to banking products and services — including award-winning wealth management with our partner Qtrade Financial.

When more and more Canadians feel small when dealing with big banks, our members work with outstanding accredited financial planners who understand extensively complex federal government pension systems and retirement options. 

If you’re fed up with exorbitant fees, lack of transparency and connection to your needs at your big bank, then a credit union might be for you.