Some Choices Matter

March 17, 2017

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve heard a story line in the media raising concerns expressed from staff at a number of financial service organizations.

Rather than engage in that story I believe we should engage in a conversation about Being Different. Let’s talk about building prosperity, promoting co-operatives, let’s celebrate the success Libro has achieved thanks to the epic humans at Libro and the mutual success being locally-focused has created for our customer/Owners and the communities we call home.

Over the past five years we have been on an incredible journey to reinvent Libro. A journey that I am very proud of. We started on the premise that for our Owners, Libro needs to be world class in a number of areas. That we don’t compete in the rest of the world however we do compete with the rest of the world right here in the region of southwestern Ontario. I should also point out that when we compete with very large financial services firms we need to Be Different.

The initial premise which I still believe to be true today, in fact maybe more true today, is we need to be the best in three key areas:

  1. The Best Governance and Strategic Plan
  2. The Best Leaders and Staff
  3. The Best Culture

Here’s how Libro’s working to be the best in those key areas:

It started with a different approach to your typical vision statement and was built on this view of being the best.

At Libro we exist to grow prosperity across southwestern Ontario by transforming banking. It’s that simple and we do it to inspire financial happiness for our Owners while creating a culture where staff can be joyful in their work. This may sound a little different however we realize that if our staff are not joyful then we will not be successful. We know we have a key role to play in inspiring financial happiness for our Owners.

Our cooperative roots matter. Today Libro is the largest financial services firm in the region that earns 100% of its revenue here and reinvests 100% of its profits right back into the region. The fact that we are a financial cooperative (Owned by our customers) also means there is no misalignment between shareholder value and customer value. By our very design every Libro customer is a Libro shareholder. We also share 50% of our profits with our Owners. In essence, giving back to those who helped create them.

While Libro does operate with sales targets and goals we’re focused on the premise that if our Owners are not better off because of us, then we have failed them. Think about that for a minute. A financial services firm that operates on the belief that our success is driven from the success of our Owners. Our growth and variable compensation components are always based on team and credit union results and not individual contributions so staff are always operating on the basis of what is best for Owners. Staff targets are aimed at having proactive, holistic, advice-driven conversations to help Owners prosper. We’re more than Financial Planners, we’re Coaches, and we care deeply about the financial well-being of our Owners.

At Libro our staff are our brand. Staff give Libro meaning in the communities we serve. We believe in treating people fairly and creating a culture built on mutual success. Last year we celebrated staff importance by becoming a living wage employer.

We created and sustained a wellness program to support staff health and happiness.

As a result, staff have rated Libro as Platinum Level Best Employer in Canada for 2016 and 2017 and our results from the most recent survey are better yet again.

We have developed a prosperity purpose business model focused on growing prosperity in southwestern Ontario by transforming banking. We understand that to be successful our Owners need to be prosperous, our communities need to be prosperous and Libro also needs to be prosperous. In 2015 we launched The Prosperity Project to start defining a collective vision for our region with one simple question “What does prosperity mean to you?”.

Today Libro supports 10,000 business Owners who borrow $1.6 billion dollars to grow prosperity right here in the region. We funded $1.4 million in community projects in 2016 through our Prosperity Fund & sponsorships & donations programs. We also invested in a 10-year partnership with Guelph University forming The Libro Professorship in Regional Economic Development to build economic strength and innovation across southwestern Ontario.

The purpose of this note is to highlight that there is a different way to achieve financial happiness and we believe Libro is a great place to start. Yes some may suggest we’re being opportunistic. I’d like to suggest we are passionate about Why we exist, How we operate, and What it means to Be Libro. We have been sharing these ideas for a few years now.

I also know that we can do so much more if more of the community of southwestern Ontario did business with us.

I’d love for all 103,000 Libro Owners to engage us in a conversation. Feel free to share this message on social media. Tell the world there is a different approach to financial services, where you own the place you bank.

#somechoicesmatter #prosperhere

Passionately yours,

Stephen Bolton
Head Coach, President & CEO


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