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Vote to merge with Outlook Financial
August 8, 2021
12:09 am
Loonie
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AltaRed said
The CU model does serve the community well. That has never been an issue. CUs sprang up because banks were serving so many communities poorly, or not at all.

Loonie made a comment about the relative lack of CUs in AB and that may well be true, but if it is, it is because the AB government a long time ago got fed up with Eastern Canada based banking centroids ignoring the west and they established Treasury Branches (now ATB) to serve Albertans province wide. Many smaller communities had no broad based banking except via ATB.

I still see CU consolidation happening over time. Perhaps as few as 3-5 in BC total. The whole southern interior of BC could be served by one large regional CU with the critical mass, e.g. $15-20B in assets, to be competitive in the digital world that knows few boundaries.  

I was actually referring to the fact that the largest CUs are not in AB. I don't know how many they have.
Ontario also used to offer retail banking through the Province of Ontario Savings Office (or similar name) but they closed it down a few decades ago. I don't know the origins of it but it may not be as simple as east vs west. A friend of mine used to do all her banking through the Ontario one and said they had better rates than the banks. It's not like the banks give better service in the east, although maybe more branches.

August 8, 2021
12:28 am
User230
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I joined Implicity a while back as it offered a savings account that had cheques. I have never used this option though.

Implicity has been good to deal with so I stayed.

I wouldn't want them to merge as they might change for the worse.

August 8, 2021
12:32 am
Loonie
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Norman1 said
I think that times have changed. Those poorly served communities are now well served by the banks and the reasons for starting some of those credit unions don't apply anymore.

For example, the credit card market in Canada is now saturated. Banks will now issue a credit card to anyone who doesn't have a bad credit record. They will even throw in signup bonuses! Access to credit is not a big issue anymore.

Even before recent changes, I saw little reason to deal with a credit union besides the virtue signalling that Bill mentioned.

Bank accounts. I've found lower service fees with the Big Banks than with credit unions. The credit unions nickeled-and-dimed just like the banks did. Unfortunately, I didn't run into any exceptions, like BCU Financial and Equity CU, back then.

Similar with interest rates. Years ago, I rescued a relative from his credit union that was offering to renew his 5-year GIC at three full percentage points below what Royal Bank was offering! sf-surprised

We certainly don't need another me-too financial institution offering a savings account that pays 0.05% per annum. The Big Banks already offer that to anyone already.  

Meridian would not agree with you. They have been busily opening branches in small communities which have been abandoned by the banks, sometimes using the same buildings or a portion thereof.

Your experiences, while historically valid, are no longer relevant. People want to know what is on offer today. In my view, no CU is going to survive on "virtue signalling". It has to be offering what people want.

I belong to several CUs and also use several banks. The only fees I have paid in the last 10 years have been transfer out fees and fees to close out registered accounts, mostly at banks but also at Meridian, and those FIs won't receive any more of our registered funds unless they have rates that more than compensate (to allow for likely increases in fees).

To call it "virtue signaling" is just a pejorative way of saying that customers have recognized they are not being well treated by their banks and are finding alternatives. There's no other reason to do it really. Canadians are notoriously lazy about switching FIs but sometimes they feel forced to do so by circumstances.

August 8, 2021
4:56 am
canadian.100
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Loonie said
I don't pretend to know everything, and I have no formal education in finance, but I will continue to present what appears to me to be the case. Sometimes the lay person with some intelligence, critical thinking skills and common sense can see things that the professionals, who are all basically trained to think the same way and congregate at the same water coolers, miss.  

I don't pretend to know everything, and I do have a degree in Economics and Finance plus a CPA/CA. Loonie, you should not assume "professionals who are basically trained the same way and congregate at the same water coolers miss the things lay people with some intelligence, critical thinking skills and common sense see things the professionals miss. " We are not all "trained the same way" - and we don't hang around water coolers (a strange comment - you must be watching too much TV.) - the majority of us try to do our best with the knowledge we have "at the time" of a situation (same as doctors) but sometimes the facts are not always evident, revealed or known and we try to make the best decision at the time (same as doctors). It is always easy to judge a situation "after the fact" and to assume that lay people might have sensed things the professionals did not.
Loonie - tell us what interest rates will be 12 months from now - use your "intelligence, critical thinking and common sense."

August 8, 2021
6:01 am
Bill
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If you make a pile of dough via large corporations in the private sector some folks get jealous, so they posit it's because large corporations, the private sector, has ripped off us regular joes, that's a regular undercurrent for some folks, I've noticed in my lifetime (you see it here too from some folks) here in Canada. Oh well, just the way it goes.

CU's appeal to those folks, and CU's in turn deliberately appeal to that anti big-corporate sentiment, it's a huge part of their marketing schtick, and the way things are going I see an increasing (especially urban) customer base for them here in Canada.

August 8, 2021
8:13 am
Loonie
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canadian.100 said

I don't pretend to know everything, and I do have a degree in Economics and Finance plus a CPA/CA. Loonie, you should not assume "professionals who are basically trained the same way and congregate at the same water coolers miss the things lay people with some intelligence, critical thinking skills and common sense see things the professionals miss. " We are not all "trained the same way" - and we don't hang around water coolers (a strange comment - you must be watching too much TV.) - the majority of us try to do our best with the knowledge we have "at the time" of a situation (same as doctors) but sometimes the facts are not always evident, revealed or known and we try to make the best decision at the time (same as doctors). It is always easy to judge a situation "after the fact" and to assume that lay people might have sensed things the professionals did not.
Loonie - tell us what interest rates will be 12 months from now - use your "intelligence, critical thinking and common sense."  

It's good to know about your qualifications and that you are trying the best you can to do a good job, but I think you are unnecessarily on the defensive.

All I said was "sometimes" lay people may notice things the pros don't, and that is patently true. I will stick with that. Several years ago, ca. 2011, through work, we were offered the services of an experienced CFP to help us with our finances, free of charge. He was going to do up a financial plan and so on but I did not think it would be worthwhile to follow through with him after our interview. In the course of the opening conversation he told me in no uncertain terms that "nobody" foresaw the debacle of 2008. He said he'd been to a big important conference in NYC not too long before and "nobody" had foreseen what was coming, which is another way of saying they all see things the same way. I did see something nasty coming, and the reason I remember this is because a friend from the US had been visiting us the year before and we had discussed it as I was interested in her perspective as an American; she felt the same way as I did. She has 2 degrees in Religion, intelligence, common sense and critical thinking abilities.

I have an accountant, whom i am going to ditch as soon as i get around to it. He charges more than others and is not very helpful. I asked him once what was my marginal tax rate and he acted like that was a difficult question and didn't give me any kind of answer. i figured it out for myself. And that was before I hit the clawback stage, when it was really very simple.

I'm not in the crystal ball business, but I do have insights, intelligence, common sense, and critical thinking abilities. I don't appreciate being taunted. I do encourage everyone to develop their abilities to the fullest and learn to think for themselves, raise questions, and evaluate prevailing views received from professionals.

The comparison to physicians is apt. They are, with rare exceptions, only trained in allopathic medicine. They know little to nothing about complementary, holistic, or non-Western medicine. They all have to get through basically the same curriculum with the same clinical experiences, pass the same licensing exams, as you and your colleagues did for your CA. The very definition of a profession, sociologically, includes a common body of knowledge. Thus, in my view, they are all trained the same way if they belong to the same profession. I too belonged to a profession, and, yes, there are differences among members of that profession, but they are minor. If they had seriously different views, they would get drummed out of the profession. I left because I wanted to do something else with my life.

The water cooler allusion is proverbial, metaphorical. You needn't take it literally. I presume though that in your career you attend conferences and so on with other members of your profession who had passed the same exams and did whatever was necessary to maintain their professional status.

And you can drop the sarcasm. I don't watch TV. My vision isn't good enough to see it.

Now, let's all play nice. I will acknowledge that you are probably a good fellow who is doing his best to provide reliable info to clients. None of us knows what next year's rates will be. Any one of us might notice something that others don't, and it might be important.

August 8, 2021
9:00 am
canadian.100
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Loonie said

It's good to know about your qualifications and that you are trying the best you can to do a good job, but I think you are unnecessarily on the defensive.

All I said was "sometimes" lay people may notice things the pros don't, and that is patently true. I will stick with that. Several years ago, ca. 2011, through work, we were offered the services of an experienced CFP to help us with our finances, free of charge. He was going to do up a financial plan and so on but I did not think it would be worthwhile to follow through with him after our interview. In the course of the opening conversation he told me in no uncertain terms that "nobody" foresaw the debacle of 2008. He said he'd been to a big important conference in NYC not too long before and "nobody" had foreseen what was coming, which is another way of saying they all see things the same way. I did see something nasty coming, and the reason I remember this is because a friend from the US had been visiting us the year before and we had discussed it as I was interested in her perspective as an American; she felt the same way as I did. She has 2 degrees in Religion, intelligence, common sense and critical thinking abilities.

I have an accountant, whom i am going to ditch as soon as i get around to it. He charges more than others and is not very helpful. I asked him once what was my marginal tax rate and he acted like that was a difficult question and didn't give me any kind of answer. i figured it out for myself. And that was before I hit the clawback stage, when it was really very simple.

I'm not in the crystal ball business, but I do have insights, intelligence, common sense, and critical thinking abilities. I don't appreciate being taunted. I do encourage everyone to develop their abilities to the fullest and learn to think for themselves, raise questions, and evaluate prevailing views received from professionals.

The comparison to physicians is apt. They are, with rare exceptions, only trained in allopathic medicine. They know little to nothing about complementary, holistic, or non-Western medicine. They all have to get through basically the same curriculum with the same clinical experiences, pass the same licensing exams, as you and your colleagues did for your CA. The very definition of a profession, sociologically, includes a common body of knowledge. Thus, in my view, they are all trained the same way if they belong to the same profession. I too belonged to a profession, and, yes, there are differences among members of that profession, but they are minor. If they had seriously different views, they would get drummed out of the profession. I left because I wanted to do something else with my life.

The water cooler allusion is proverbial, metaphorical. You needn't take it literally. I presume though that in your career you attend conferences and so on with other members of your profession who had passed the same exams and did whatever was necessary to maintain their professional status.

And you can drop the sarcasm. I don't watch TV. My vision isn't good enough to see it.

Now, let's all play nice. I will acknowledge that you are probably a good fellow who is doing his best to provide reliable info to clients. None of us knows what next year's rates will be. Any one of us might notice something that others don't, and it might be important.  

I will try not to have an exchange with you in future because to me (it is my impression and I am certainly entitled to my impression) is that your comments radiate a "my opinion only is relevant" attitude. Having been in client-service operations of one type or another for a long time, my impression is that you would not be an easy person to please - and we sometimes are happy when a dissatisfied client moves on after we have bent over backwards and spent hours (not charging for all the time the client requires) trying to please him/them. I agree you should move on from your present accountant if, as you say, he charges more than others and is not very helpful. I would do the same - and I have done the same with regard to financial advisors/brokers, banks, CUs etc. I have had in the past. Sorry about your sight problems - I have my own medical issues as many of us do and we try our best to cope with them. I wish you well.

August 8, 2021
11:05 am
AltaRed
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Bill said
If you make a pile of dough via large corporations in the private sector some folks get jealous, so they posit it's because large corporations, the private sector, has ripped off us regular joes, that's a regular undercurrent for some folks, I've noticed in my lifetime (you see it here too from some folks) here in Canada. Oh well, just the way it goes.

CU's appeal to those folks, and CU's in turn deliberately appeal to that anti big-corporate sentiment, it's a huge part of their marketing schtick, and the way things are going I see an increasing (especially urban) customer base for them here in Canada.  

For now that may be the sentiment of a lot of folk but there are increasing options for alternative digital online "banking" that appeal to the younger set who don't want to set foot in branches. Banking is trending online without brick and mortar branches, reaching the far crevices of this country.

The reason for, and attractiveness of, branch based local CUs is waning. There is ongoing convergence in the business/service model with CUs and banks increasingly fighting for the same turf. A number of CUs recognize that with online bank subsidiaries/divisions - an interesting model.

I am pretty convinced "banking" will look quite different in 2030 than it does today with many of the current players gone and new ones in their place.

August 8, 2021
11:30 am
canadian.100
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AltaRed said

For now that may be the sentiment of a lot of folk but there are increasing options for alternative digital online "banking" that appeal to the younger set who don't want to set foot in branches. Banking is trending online without brick and mortar branches, reaching the far crevices of this country.

The reason for, and attractiveness of, branch based local CUs is waning. There is ongoing convergence in the business/service model with CUs and banks increasingly fighting for the same turf. A number of CUs recognize that with online bank subsidiaries/divisions - an interesting model.

I am pretty convinced "banking" will look quite different in 2030 than it does today with many of the current players gone and new ones in their place.  

You are "on the money."
I have evolved into almost everything online and digital in 2021. The pandemic encouraged it.

August 8, 2021
12:03 pm
Bill
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I don't see why CU's, especially as they consolidate, won't be just as digital, online, etc. as the rest of the industry, not really a physical branch issue to me.

My point is that lots of folks now spend based on ideological basis, even if not as convenient or economical. Another example might help: many people now like to buy local, even if it's costlier and inconvenient. Even though the big grocery store is nearby, open 24/7 and cheaper, they'll wait until the farmer's market is open on Saturday and pay 3 times as much for local fare. Selective virtue signalling is a new and growing force for most people, particularly the young, in their buying choices, and that augers very well for CU's, in my view.

Related anecdote: I avoid cbc like the plague but my wife had it on in her car and there was a taste test between California and local strawberries and the guest tester picked the former as the tastier. I was surprised cbc aired, didn't censor, that - doesn't really fit their narrative!

I agree with those who say banking will be very different soon. A few days ago Freeland released the govt's open banking report, those feeling comfy with their bank stocks and "guaranteed" dividends might be interested to see what governments have in mind, aside from the predictable technological changes we know are coming.

August 8, 2021
12:35 pm
HermanH
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Bill said

My point is that lots of folks now spend based on ideological basis, even if not as convenient or economical. Another example might help: many people now like to buy local, even if it's costlier and inconvenient. Even though the big grocery store is nearby, open 24/7 and cheaper, they'll wait until the farmer's market is open on Saturday and pay 3 times as much for local fare. Selective virtue signalling is a new and growing force for most people, particularly the young, in their buying choices, and that augers very well for CU's, in my view.

I agree. Folks are willing to pay more for the exact same product. Many farmers' market vendors buy the same product out of the same warehouses as Walmart or Sobeys. Instead of buying it more cheaply at Superstore, folks will pay 3 times the price at the farmers' market for the exact same product.

And it isn't just food. Some people think that they are supporting local business by buying from a smaller vendor. That shampoo/shirt/shoe comes from the same factory in China that supplies those exact same products to Walmart. So, instead of maximizing their purchasing power, they waste it by adding an additional middle-man for absolutely no extra value (except bragging rights.)

August 8, 2021
1:02 pm
Loonie
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canadian.100 said

I will try not to have an exchange with you in future because to me (it is my impression and I am certainly entitled to my impression) is that your comments radiate a "my opinion only is relevant" attitude. Having been in client-service operations of one type or another for a long time, my impression is that you would not be an easy person to please - and we sometimes are happy when a dissatisfied client moves on after we have bent over backwards and spent hours (not charging for all the time the client requires) trying to please him/them. I agree you should move on from your present accountant if, as you say, he charges more than others and is not very helpful. I would do the same - and I have done the same with regard to financial advisors/brokers, banks, CUs etc. I have had in the past. Sorry about your sight problems - I have my own medical issues as many of us do and we try our best to cope with them. I wish you well.  

It's probably true that I'm not easy to please when I get shoddy or inadequate answers. That's not likely to change. But when I find someone who does provide real answers, it's wonderful!

Being obstinate can be functional. Because of that and being well informed, I saved my mother's life 8 years ago. I out-manoeuvred a very misguided hospital system. It was a nightmare, the stuff of novels, but it was my job to protect her and I knew how, which most people would not. She's now 100 and in good shape for her age.

FWIW, I don't take up much of the accountant's time. That was actually the only time I spoke to him. Spouse does the talking and is likely more congenial than I but doesn't necessarily get answers. I seriously dislike such conversations, so it's best I avoid them. Neither of us has ever taken up hardly any of their time, and we always pay the extravagant bills quickly. That's one of the reasons I find it hard to imagine any justification for their fees being twice as high as others'. And we don't have complicated returns either. If we'd been a nuisance, they would have gotten rid of us by now. They review their caseload annually and weed out any they don't want to keep.

You will respond to me or not in future, as you wish. No problem either way. You seem generally level-headed and rational; we just disagree. Thanks for the sympathy on the vision.

August 8, 2021
1:44 pm
Loonie
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I don't know if Meridian's strategy of opening up a number of branches in smaller centres will work or not. I think it's risky but they must have some marketing data that informed their decision.

It's going back a lot of years in my life now, but when I had a lot more to do with rural and small town life, it was my observation that the people enjoyed the personal interaction with the grocer, the butcher, the teller, the postal clerk etc. Those living on farms did not see people every day like those living in big cities, and it was an event they looked forward to, to go to town and interact with people, while they did their shopping or errands.

Reminds me of a trip we took through the mountains once. We stayed in B&Bs where feasible and found the owners very eager to talk, so much so that we remarked upon it. We concluded their isolation made them lonely for conversation. We broached this with one of them and he agreed. Winter is tough in Revelstoke.

I don't know if these observations are applicable today, but they might be. If so, Meridian will have probably made the right decision. When you build relationships with people and you see them around town and they are part of your community (unlike cities), you are more likely to do more business with them. That doesn't happen on a computer. Speaking personally, I have no real loyalty to my online-only FIs, but I have a soft spot for those where I know at least one staff member and they treat me right.

Perhaps it will improve but I've not been very happy with the conversations I've had with anonymous CSRs from the FI industry lately. Or with the annoying ads I can't get rid of at CIBC when I log in. Why is it so hard to find the e-statements on many of them, or even the page on which to make transfers? Perhaps my poor vision is a factor, but it's still annoying.

August 8, 2021
2:02 pm
canadian.100
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Loonie said

FWIW, I don't take up much of the accountant's time. That was actually the only time I spoke to him. Spouse does the talking and is likely more congenial than I but doesn't necessarily get answers. I seriously dislike such conversations, so it's best I avoid them. Neither of us has ever taken up hardly any of their time, and we always pay the extravagant bills quickly. That's one of the reasons I find it hard to imagine any justification for their fees being twice as high as others'. And we don't have complicated returns eitther. If we'd been a nuisance, they would have gotten rid of us by now. They review their caseload annually and weed out any they don't want to keep.  

If your accountant is charging you twice as high as others, and your situation is straight forward and you don't take up much of his time, then it may be that he is charging you twice as much in the hope you will initiate "the departure" on your own. Most professional accountants will not actually want to tell their clients to go elsewhere - they will sort of "encourage" you to leave and charging a high fee may well be his way of "encouraging" you to leave. If you have a good rapport with the manager of the credit union(s) you deal with, why not ask them for possible recommendations for an accountant? or recommendations from friends? Go to a small firm as their fees are much lower than the big firms. I would be out of there ASAP based alone on the very poor service you say you are receiving. No need to overpay either - firms will give you a quote upfront for staightforward work.

August 8, 2021
3:24 pm
RetirEd
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Hmm. I do business with three credit unions at the moment. In most cases, it was specific rate offers that led me to make deposits with them. I have quit some and in one case gone back when a new offer appeared.

Vancouver City Savings Credit Union is my main hub now, but their days of good GIC rates are gone. They made some bad decisions in 2008 and sold off some of their good business to save the farm.

Virtue-signaling? Their choices as beneficiaries of donations upset me more than a little. Especially the US-controlled eco-megas. They are more careful about their activist choices since the 2008 mess.

I now only use them for fee-free banking (senior benefit) and investment shares (paying me 3.75%). They make more mistakes than others but fix them promptly; they give me printed statements and local branches. I am unhappy they have eliminated 24/7 telephone service and seriously downgraded response times during the hours they have left. Not all ATMs are 24/7 any more, which is a major pain! AGM food is often dreadful (pizza- ugh!)

I went to Coast Capital for their expansion 4% promotion, but won't likely keep them. Their fees are nasty and transfers awkward; they only give me printed statements on a grandfathered basis, so I won't rush off just yet. And their only branch anywhere near me has no parking. Phone service is poor.

BlueShore (formerly North Shore) is one of the oldest (if not the oldest) CU in BC. They were long a traditional union-worker-based institution and pretty well managed. Over the last 20 years they have tried to be a "Boutique" institution courting high-net-worth individuals who want lotsd of advice and planning. That's not me, but I like their no-fee-for-seniors plan and they have usually had good GIC offers. Like many others, that's no longer the case. I still have high-rate GICs earning there. You never know when a good offer will pop up there.

Non-seniors will probably cringe at their fee schedule.

BlueShore always acclaims their board, and their AGMs are very posh. They seem to be the "well-connected" types. Their customer service is always capable and polite, rarely slow to answer the phone.
RetirEd

RetirEd

August 9, 2021
2:38 am
Loonie
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canadian.100 said

If your accountant is charging you twice as high as others, and your situation is straight forward and you don't take up much of his time, then it may be that he is charging you twice as much in the hope you will initiate "the departure" on your own. Most professional accountants will not actually want to tell their clients to go elsewhere - they will sort of "encourage" you to leave and charging a high fee may well be his way of "encouraging" you to leave. If you have a good rapport with the manager of the credit union(s) you deal with, why not ask them for possible recommendations for an accountant? or recommendations from friends? Go to a small firm as their fees are much lower than the big firms. I would be out of there ASAP based alone on the very poor service you say you are receiving. No need to overpay either - firms will give you a quote upfront for staightforward work.  

Thanks for the advice. It sounds sensible.

I suspect he charges too much because he is primarily interested in business clients and people who have more complicated problems. We used to have a corporation, and that is when we acquired him, about 20 years ago.
Some years back, his business bought themselves a fancy new building with grand pillars out front and a massive chandelier in the foyer. That was the one time I met him, when he showed off the building to us. It was clearly designed to impress moneyed clients. It immediately made me think of the book, "Where are the Customers' Yachts?", if you've ever read it, a classic. The fact that he has a grand building and is apparently making a lot of money, or wants to, does not help me, the customer, and I was negatively impressed.

It's possible his fees were always high, but I was not paying attention to that end of things back then; it was spouse's domain. The reason I'm sure they are now out of line is because a friend of mine, who has somewhat more complicated returns than we do, receives the same service, and in a more timely and friendly manner, from her accountant, who has a modest office, at about half the price. Friend has never had any hassles from CRA, so it sounds good to me.
Another friend has recommended an accountant in London, which i suppose is possible even though we live in Toronto. That friend also thought we were overpaying, and she too has slightly more complicated returns as she owns property in the US which she has rental income from.

I've also had some doubts about the competence of the firm we deal with. Once, they omitted one of my T5s, even though I had supplied it to them, and I wasn't checking carefully, so CRA caught up with that one. I didn't appreciate it.
Another year, they billed us twice, even though we had already paid. Fortunately, I did notice that and remembered we had already paid, so we were able to prove it. They said they didn't know what had gone wrong and were going to look into it. Spouse was all ready to pay the bill again when I caught it.
In addition, I have sometimes found other less significant errors and spouse asked them to correct them. After the failure to include all T5s, I started reading over their work carefully. But that means I am doing the work over again, effectively. And we are not the type who send them a shoebox of receipts and so on; what we send them s is well organized. Surely the reason one hires an accountant is for accuracy. I would think that is their primary responsibility.

For 2020, I had to deal with the problem created by DUCA when their T5s were in error and they had to send out new ones. The accountant strongly resisted updating my return, which had not yet been submitted to CRA, but I insisted, so he reluctantly did it. Again, accuracy is the point. It was only $38, and he said CRA wouldn't care, which I doubt. It's my job to send in an accurate T1, and the accountant's job to get it done. The only reason I bother with an accountant at all is because my vision is so poor that I can't trust myself completely and it's not spouse's strength.

On the occasion when I visited their premises, it was to attend a meeting which the accountant had called, to review our finances and financial planning. We did not ask for this meeting or this kind of help. He informed us that he'd recently become a CFP and proceeded to go over our finances. I'd brought him an up to date statement of our assets and (no) liabilities, which I update every 3 months. Then he billed us for this meeting, which was useless. (This was where he couldn't answer my question about marginal tax rate.) We hadn't known we'd be billed and had thought it was a routine thing. We complained and he quickly withdrew the bill.

So, all in all, it has not been a very happy partnership, especially in more recent years.
I'm curious whether you would consider these experiences normal in dealing with an accountant. Obviously I didn't think they should be, but I have nothing to compare to except what other people tell me.

Good idea to ask for a quote from the next candidate(s).

August 9, 2021
11:02 am
Norman1
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Loonie said

Meridian would not agree with you. They have been busily opening branches in small communities which have been abandoned by the banks, sometimes using the same buildings or a portion thereof.

There isn't a disagreement. Meridian and other credit unions have lower standards.

As a non-profit, a credit union can continue a branch that has a return on investment as low as 0%. A bank won't because such a low return on investment can be achieved with government bonds with much less risk and hassle.

Some of publicly traded banks pay substantial dividends on their shares. Royal Bank, for example, currently pays around 3.3%. Before OSFI restrictions, it could get a 3.3% return by buying back its own common shares.

Your experiences, while historically valid, are no longer relevant. People want to know what is on offer today. In my view, no CU is going to survive on "virtue signalling". It has to be offering what people want.

It still applies today. One still has to check that one is getting a reasonable deal when dealing with a credit union.

It wasn't that far back in history that some PACE CU members were given a lousy deal on private preferred shares. One preferred share site observed that one could have easily found publicly traded preferred shares offering similar rates of return from established financial institutions.

Today, that small Ontario credit union in Tottenham we looked at a while back, is offering five-year closed fixed rate mortgages for 3.89%. RBC Royal Bank has five-year closed fixed rate mortgages on sale for 2.49%.

I belong to several CUs and also use several banks. The only fees I have paid in the last 10 years have been transfer out fees and fees to close out registered accounts, mostly at banks but also at Meridian, and those FIs won't receive any more of our registered funds unless they have rates that more than compensate (to allow for likely increases in fees).

To call it "virtue signaling" is just a pejorative way of saying that customers have recognized they are not being well treated by their banks and are finding alternatives. There's no other reason to do it really. Canadians are notoriously lazy about switching FIs but sometimes they feel forced to do so by circumstances.  

It is not virtue signalling when one gets a better deal with a credit union. It is when one does not.

Not everyone qualifies for a student or a senior waiver on service fees. Without that, it wasn't obvious to me why anyone would switch to many of the credit unions I looked at. That's especially the case when one has buy shares monthly until one has $1,000 of shares, like Sunova used to require.

August 9, 2021
12:53 pm
Loonie
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It's difficult to respond to you, Norman, when the original post of yours to which I had responded, and now you have responded to again, is so far back that it's just too much work to try to follow the thread. So I probably won't be able to deal with all of it.

However, you said earlier that banks were serving small communities well and CUs weren't needed. Not true. Now you are claiming that banks have higher "standards". No, they have different standards, not necessarily better ones. It depends on what is important to the customer/member. I could write a few pages about how those standards differ, but what would be the point? You have already pointed out one, that the CU don't have to generate profits with which to pay non-members dividends. I consider that a higher standard, not a lower one.

Of course, one has to check that one is getting an acceptable deal. That's what I meant by saying people want to know what is on offer today, not umpteen years ago as you have suggested.

It's not reasonable to be selective about your notion of virtue signalling, a misleading phrase at best. Lots of people keep their money at banks that pay them essentially or actually no interest. By your definition, that would have to be considered virtue signalling, but those who are fond of this phrase seem to reserve it for CUs. Some people perceive some mystical value in sticking with an FI that gives them a poor deal. More often than not, for savers, that is a bank, as the banks hold most of our money and pay next to nothing except for promos. You cite mortgage rates at RBC and Adjala CU but you fail to report on their savings rates, which show a very different picture.

Personally, I use a combination of banks and CUs. I choose the ones that give me the best deal, which includes but is not limited to rates.

There are certainly CUs out there that offer no-fee banking to all members and have good rates. You just have to look for them, but you are not interested. So be it, but you continue to cite old information which is not relevant.

In the end, people make choices for a variety of reasons. For some, it's a matter of which FIs they trust, and they will overlook deficiencies. Many don't trust banks. Many don't trust CUs or never heard of them. Some are not knowledgeable enough to realize there are alternatives. Some go for convenience. I've never heard anyone say they chose an FI because of "signalling", but some do make choices partly on ethical grounds, either because they want to support banks or because they want to support CUs.

The proof will be in the pudding with Meridian. One thing I do know is that people in small centres have long memories. They remember where the bank stood and when it deserted them and who lost their jobs. They remember who helped out the farmers in a bad year, and who didn't. They remember where the decisions were made that affected their community. It all becomes part of the local "story".

August 9, 2021
5:17 pm
Bill
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To clarify virtue signaling, dealing with a non-profit can be virtue-signaling because society (often falsely, e.g. see Pace) views non-profits such as CU's as more ethical, etc, than for-profit businesses. An expression of that view was just stated here, that not having profits to pay shareholder dividends (i.e. unlike banks) represents a "higher standard" (at least in some folks' opinions).

Dealing with for-huge-profit big banks is not seen as an ethical, etc choice, thus it's not possible to virtue-signal via being a big bank customer. Only works one way, for CU customers.

August 9, 2021
7:30 pm
AltaRed
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Better said than how I would have explained it.

FWIW, the banks plow their profits back into the economy as well through investments and distributing their profits back to the shareholders who own them in the communities in which they live. Technically the majority of shares and associated dividends are ultimately owned by an individual, either directly, or through a fund, or through a pension plan. In my case, it (along with other sources) allows me to fund my lifestyle in the BC Interior and make charitable donation to things like the local Food Bank, Women's Shelter and SPCA chapter. CUs don't hold the moral high ground on this matter. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

This back and forth discussion is just different viewpoints and personal biases on how one gets there. There is room for almost everybody, consolidation notwithstanding.

P.S. Since yesterday, I have found that the Prince George CU is being bought out by Kelowna based Interior Savings CU. A good example of consolidation in the BC Interior.

I also found that 6 CUs in southern and southeastern BC tried to merge (5 smaller ones with well under $500M in assets each with the larger Kootenay Savings CU) but they called it off as too complex. I now see Kootenay Savings CU picking off the 5 and perhaps others one by one over the next 5 years. A single branch CU in each of places like Golden, Cranbrook and Trail cannot possibly survive longer term.

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