By: VyStar President/CEO Terry R. West
The New Year is an exciting holiday. It symbolizes fresh beginnings and renewed opportunities to accomplish our goals. It is also a time to reflect on, and learn from, our experiences and express gratitude for all we have.
For VyStar, 2016 was another busy and productive year. Our achievements would not have been possible without the support of our member-owners. We want to thank you for another successful year, and we look forward to continuing to serve your financial needs in 2017 and beyond. As we close out 2016, I would like to reflect on a few of the past year’s highlights:
After two years of evaluation and testing, VyStar rolled out a new Internet & Mobile Banking system during February of 2016. The decision to switch was based on our goals to provide members with more online options and security, as well as improved technology and access, than our previous system was able to provide. We know that during the conversion and immediately following it, a number of our members were inconvenienced. We apologize for that and appreciate everyone’s patience and feedback as we worked to address the issues that arose.
Over the 10 months following the conversion, however, we diligently worked through those issues. This past December, we launched our first enhancement to the new system, which included several updates and improvements that members had requested. We are happy to announce that, during November, our Internet & Mobile Banking platform hit a historic number of user enrollment: over 300,000 in Internet Banking, 200,000 in Mobile Banking, and 100,400 in Bill Pay. Enrollment and usage of Internet & Mobile Banking has dramatically increased since we converted to the new system. Thank you for your continued support as we work to improve your online experience. We will continue to add new features and enhancements.
During August, VyStar opened its first branch in Volusia County in the Ormond Beach Community. A few months later, during December, VyStar’s second Volusia County branch was opened in Port Orange. Volusia County has been a part of VyStar’s field of membership for many years, and it was important for us to respond to the membership and population growth in that area by offering great service and convenience through additional branch and ATM locations. Since that time, it has been wonderful to hear the positive feedback from our members, both new and existing, who have visited our newest locations. We appreciate the warm welcome we continue to receive from the Volusia County communities, and we look forward to serving the residents and businesses there for many years to come.
VyStar’s first Volusia County branch in Ormond Beach marked another significant milestone: It was the first to have our new branch design. The new branch design introduces a fresh look and enhanced technology for increased efficiency and improved member experience. It combines the human touch of a branch environment with digital features like tablets, videoconferencing, interactive displays, a media wall and much more. We know that our members are using our branches differently today. Our goal for the new branch design is to better serve our existing members while preparing to serve generations to come.
On December 5th, the same day we opened our Port Orange Branch in Volusia County, we opened our Springfield Branch in Duval County. Springfield is our 41st full-service branch. During 2017, VyStar will be opening four additional branches in Duval, St. Johns, Nassau and Volusia counties, bringing our total number of branches to 45.
During September, 10 years after VyStar’s High School Branch program began, we opened our 10th branch in Middleburg High School and our 11th in First Coast High School. This highly successful financial literacy and career training program continues to expand with a strategic goal of opening up to two new high school branches per year. Two more high school branches, our 12th and 13th, are planned for the 2017-2018 school year in Duval County. In 2016, VyStar reached 2,717 students with our financial training programs and almost 20,000 students since 2012.
During 2016, VyStar was again recognized as one of Jacksonville’s top philanthropic companies for our support of nonprofits and the Northeast Florida communities. Each year, VyStar employees donate money, hold fundraisers and selflessly give their time to benefit hundreds of worthy programs within our community. In 2016, VyStar raised more than $600,000 in support of the United Way of Northeast Florida, the March of Dimes, and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. VyStar was honored to receive the Impact Award for our support of Light the Night in the fight against blood cancer. Since 2011, VyStar has raised over a half a million dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
VyStar Credit Union closed out 2016 with $6.5 billion in assets and over 540,000 members. We are the 18th largest credit union in the nation, by asset size, out of almost 6,000 credit unions. We are the fourth largest financial institution in Northeast Florida behind Bank of America, EverBank and Wells Fargo. VyStar remains one of Northeast Florida’s top mortgage and auto lenders with almost $1.4 billion in loans disbursed in 2016.
As another eventful and prosperous year draws to a close, we are excited to continue serving our members in 2017. Thank you to each member, employee and volunteer for helping to make VyStar the success it is, and I wish you all a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Terry R. West,
VyStar Credit Union