At the April AGM of the Estonian (Toronto Credit Union) shareholders and members first heard about the possibility of a union with the Latvian Credit Union. It is now official; merger discussions have officially been announced as of last week. An agreement is anticipated to close by the end of this calendar year.
Uniting resources, collaboration will only benefit members. The two credit unions, just like their countries, are small. According to the press release of last Friday ECU has 4,700 members, LCU 1,500. That number is somewhat surprising, considering that the LCU has a branch in Hamilton is well.
Beyond improving financial clout there are physical benefits for ECU members. The Estonian Credit Union, as one of the 4 organizations behind the proposed International Estonian Centre near Bloor and Spadina is planning to establish their head office there. While the future of the Toronto Estonian House is still not clear the fact that the primary, keystone tenant is leaving is a fait accompli.
There have been concerns expressed about the new location. While the financial world is moving toward digital banking apace there remain those, especially from the older generations who still wish to do their banking in person, physically. The IEC is very accessible by public transportation but parking is a huge issue.
This is where the LCU location provides great benefit, with a large parking lot. Located near the Don Valley Parkway it is easy to reach by automobile. Public transportation, if one likes riding the bus, will bring the client to the front door. The completion of the Eglinton LRT sometime next century will also facilitate access.
Another bonus is the fact that the LCU office is attractive and the Latvian House well maintained. Many Estonians have held confirmation parties or wakes there, and their in-house catering service is of high quality.
The only drawback seems to be linguistic; banking will have to be done in English, the lingua franca of the world. The alternative is for ECU members to learn Latvian, and vice versa. Considering the historical humorous approach we have to the other’s language, this might be a fun challenge.
The next step, of course, is to swallow the Parama Lithuanian Credit Union, also with two physical properties. Considering that their CEO is an Estonian a Baltic Credit Union beckons…
Tõnu Naelapea, Toronto