2017 was a challenging year for many businesses but Eastern Credit Union (ECU) has declared a $63 million surplus on its operations.
As such, on May 28, more than $48 million in benefits was credited to the accounts of those members who have savings with the credit union.
A patronage refund of seven per cent will also be paid to those members who borrowed from ECU during the financial year ended December 31, 2017.
ECU group CEO Conrad Enill told Business Day the patronage refund "has not yet been paid because we're still doing calculations on who qualifies." Once that is complete, the relevant members' accounts will be credited.
In a statement issued on May 29, Enill said the distribution would be based on the following formula on members with shares:
Special Shares dividend of 7.0 per cent;
Ordinary Shares dividend of 2.5 per cent; and
Total Dividend of 9.5 per cent.
The ECU said Enill also thanked staff for maintaining "this level of performance in very challenging circumstances" before challenging them to continue delivering quality service to the membership.
Asked about the benefits of being an ECU member during hard times, Enill cited the distribution of any surplus at the end of each financial year, the patronage refund, competitive interest rates on loans and regular financial education workshops on everything from wills to estate planning and budgeting.
ECU is also on a membership drive. It has about 180,000 members but Enill told Business Day their goal for 2018 is 7,000 new members. To date, 3,000 people have joined ECU this year.
Enill said what helps set ECU apart from other credit unions is that it is a $2 billion asset business and becoming a member gives you the ability to elect the board and to participate on one of the committees. ECU also has a debit card, part of the LYNX system, "which allows us to transact business with anyone in banking system."
ECU has eight branches in Trinidad and one in Tobago.