I begin my tenure as president/CEO with appreciation and tremendous insight. Since 1989, I have worked alongside Michael J. Connery, Jr., one of the most respected leaders in the industry. I was privileged to have him as a mentor. I welcome the opportunity to build upon Mike’s good work and continue to address members’ evolving needs and in this way, take UNFCU forward. Results this past year demonstrated that we are already on course, as UNFCU once again achieved solid fiscal results through prudent and responsible lending and investment policies.
A 2012 Member Satisfaction Survey underlined greater approval of UNFCU as a whole since our last comprehensive assessment in 2010. Member satisfaction improved across a wide range of business sectors—from investment services and insurance, to branch and representative office staff. Additionally, UNFCU won the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Mutual Group’s 2012 Excellence in Lending Award in the Consumer Lending category for large credit unions based on the development, communication and oversight of our unique lending programs.
Throughout 2012, we continued to add many operational service improvements. Last June, our annual report became an interactive eAnnual Report, and to expand our linguistic capabilities, we introduced a French version of our website to meet members’ needs. We also added mobile banking to our suite of remote access capabilities, affording greater convenience to our members when managing their UNFCU accounts. As the year drew to a close, United Nations Financial Services LLC, our wholly owned subsidiary, acquired Industrial Coverage Corp (ICC) a full-service insurance agency. The purchase of ICC, a well-established 55-year-old New York-based agency, will soon provide members in the United States with a wider array of competitively priced personal insurance as well as business insurance, an ICC specialty area.
UNFCU also set out to provide access to comprehensive life insurance to more members worldwide. We succeeded with the expansion of the first card-based term life insurance to debit cardholders with broad global coverage and affordable premiums. At the end of the year, we were providing over USD 500 million in coverage for nearly 2,700 members.
We stepped up the pace of member outreach in 2012. We made a first-time visit to the UN in Nepal and returned to Malaysia and Thailand. We conducted follow-up member service visits to Ethiopia, Chile, Panama, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. Using video technology, we reached out to retired staff in Bolivia and more than 250 staff members at 15 different UN locations across Africa, including Congo-Brazzaville, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Burkina Faso, Lesotho, Chad, Swaziland and Ivory Coast. Closer to our headquarters in New York, our “Realtor Days,” webcasts and in-branch educational seminars on the mortgage market and other offerings were attended by over 500 UN staff members. In Vienna, more than 600 attendees took part in a Financial Expo and seminar series, both conducted by UNFCU Advisors, GmbH. Additionally, when the General Assembly kicked off in New York last fall, our Women’s Financial Empowerment forum also attracted members’ attention at the UN Secretariat Building. Furthermore, young people from Bolivia, Ghana, Algeria, India and Pakistan were able to participate in the UN Department of Public Information’s 2012 Model UN Workshop in New York, thanks to our support.
Beyond our educational and fiduciary role, we increased our corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts. We worked with numerous UN agencies from the Philippines to Vienna and NGOs from the Fistula Foundation in Nigeria to the Earth Child Institute stateside to further the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Our support of NGO Kilimanjaro Initiative (KI) on a historic pan-African (34 countries) climb to advance the United Nations Secretary-General’s Africa UNiTE Global Campaign to “End Violence Against Women and Girls” capped the year. As a sign of solidarity, UNFCU staff collectively conducted a 45,260-step stairwell climb to the rooftop of its headquarters.
The United Nations declared 2012 the International Year of Cooperatives. This designation gave us impetus to address cooperative values and management practices at the International Summit of Cooperatives, in Quebec City, Quebec, attended by 2,800 leaders from 91 countries. Together with the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs in New York, we also led a forum on the power of New York cooperatives, which encompassed human rights and labor themes. Our 35-member UNFCU staff Green Team offered green tips and strategies during eco-friendly days at our branches and representative offices, and we supplied green bags to the UN Commissary in Nairobi to sell, with proceeds to fund a local nature trail. We added a second Energy Star certification from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for ongoing energy and waste efficiency and merited “Active Status” in our second year as a member of the UN Global Compact, a private-public sector partnership, based on the breadth and scope of our CSR efforts.
Our commitment to delivering the highest level of service throughout the world is of paramount importance. Following the 2008 global financial crisis, which UNFCU and many other credit unions came through resiliently, the regulatory environment changed as governing bodies grew unwilling to take on incremental risk. We pursued all paths toward our objective to offer multicurrency services to the membership. However, I regret that these economic times have precluded UNFCU from moving forward with the implementation of these plans in the foreseeable future. While we, like many of you, are understandably disappointed, our staff members, management and Board remain committed to concentrating on new areas of technology, product offerings and service enhancements.
As an institution founded on cooperative principles of democracy, equality, solidarity and transparency, we will always remain focused on our mission: “serving the people who serve the world.” Ours is a future dedicated to our members.