ocal residents and credit union members gathered at the Community Hall in Grenfell last Thursday evening to hear from Cornerstone Credit Union leaders about industry challenges and opportunities. The financial institution hosted similar information sessions in Wolseley, Vibank and Arcola.
Doug Jones, Chief Executive Officer, and Murray Yeadon, Chief Operations Officer, facilitated the public meeting. Along with the executive, there were also board members and regional and branch employees in attendance. The presentation by Jones and Yeadon provided information about Cornerstone’s progress, products, and future plans.
In 2021, Cornerstone Credit Union merged with Plainsview and Horizon Credit Unions, creating an institution with 23 branches and a combined wealth management of $2.1 billion. Over the past three years, Cornerstone has experienced growth with a current asset total of $2.5 billion. Digital banking options have also been implemented in recent years, though it was acknowledged that some of these are still being improved. Eight branches were closed since the merger, but Cornerstone continues to operate the largest credit union network in eastern Saskatchewan with branches in several Grasslands News communities, including Grenfell, Wolseley, Indian Head, Melville, Kipling, Montmartre, Vibank and Emerald Park.
In spite of the growth experienced by Cornerstone since the credit union merger, CEO Jones has noticed that revenue is not keeping pace with current expenses and expressed concerns relating to inflation and rising interest rates. He also anticipates higher costs for services as the credit union seeks to follow industry trends in the areas of open banking and real-time transactions.
Jones assured members that there are no imminent plans to close branches this year but indicated that future mergers among credit unions will likely occur to cope with rising costs. He stated that business must grow in order for Cornerstone to continue operations. As an example, Jones indicated that the Grenfell branch represents 2.5 per cent of Cornerstone’s membership but only 1.4 per cent of its business. He ex-plained that this could be improved not only by adding to the membership but also by members accessing more financial services like loans, savings or investment options through the credit union.
“There’s a real opportunity with our membership,” Jones observed. “If just our existing members were to do more business with us so that the membership and the book of business were both 2.5 per cent, that would be a good start as far as our local business.”
COO Yeadon acknowledged that banks provide similar services to credit unions and said that Cornerstone is striving to remain competitive in the financial market by offering comparable rates. He noted that the merger also increased Cornerstone’s lending capacity, enabling the credit union to serve larger farms and businesses than was previously feasible. Like Jones, Yeadon said that further investment is required in order to continue the trend of growth and prepare for the future.
“We want to grow the branches’ assets for long-term sustainability; things like in-vestments through lending are the key items that help a branch stay open,” Yeadon explained. “It’s not the transactions that keep a branch open, it is really all about the balances that remain in those accounts at the end of the day.”
CEO Jones concurred, telling those who attended the meeting in Grenfell, “We’re looking to earn your business, we don’t expect you to just come over because you’re worried about the branch, but preparing for the future is going to require more investment.”

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