President and CEO
Pandemic-related issues continued to command our attention in 2021. Throughout, we remained successful and consistent in our core commitment to the financial well-being of our members. We navigated significant staff shortages, which disrupted service in branches and at the administrative level. Branches were further impacted as mask mandates, illness, and a general reluctance by members to congregate reduced activity. Auto loans fell dramatically due to supply chain disruption. Real estate continued its surge. Through it all, the perseverance of our staff and membership sustained us. Employees worked long hours, often from their homes, to help members. And even with the pandemic raging, O Bee staff donated hundreds of hours to the community, including volunteering at food banks, soup kitchens, K9 rescue team trainings, vaccination clinics and many other non-profit organizations.
On the financial side, 2021 was a spectacular success for O Bee. Assets increased by almost $46M and propelled the credit union ever closer to the half-billion-dollar mark. Lending also increased by nearly $44M. However, due to weakness in consumer loans, the increase was primarily attributable to business lending and real estate, including over $1.6M in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to businesses in need.
Earnings doubled from 2020 to nearly $7 million in 2021. This was primarily due to several factors: reversing over $1 million of excess loan loss reserves booked in the prior year, lower charge-offs in general, and the receipt of a $1.8M grant as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). The CDFI funds will help us jump-start lending to those most affected by COVID.
Looking ahead to 2022, we are investing heavily in technology and will be launching our new online and mobile banking system in June/July. This new system will add popular features such as transfers to non-O Bee accounts, naming accounts, budgeting tools, and more. We have also implemented new technology in our contact and loan centers to allow employees to use chat, text, voice, and video to assist members more efficiently. As COVID proved, advanced technology is paramount in today’s world. We have been partnering with other organizations to expand our lending into small business and Small Business Association (SBA) lending for business owners. In our communities, a strong need exists for these loans, as bank consolidation has left a void. There is ample opportunity for O Bee to help.
O Bee continues to adapt and remains nimble amid the ever-changing environment of this new decade. We are laser-focused on our foremost objective: the financial well-being of our members. More than ever, we embrace the cooperative spirit of the credit union movement as we work together to fortify our most important asset: our members. Thank you for your loyalty.
James Collins, President and CEO
Will Saudners Jr.
This time last year, we on the Board were guardedly optimistic about the chances for significant improvement in the credit union’s financials given a rampant pandemic. We focused on fundamentals and directed management to build strength in areas that would benefit our communities if and when we began to emerge from the great national emergency.
Today those fundamentals have improved substantially. It looks like there is light at the end of the COVID tunnel. O Bee has new and substantial tools at our disposal to serve the financial needs of our communities in ways we never had before. The wealth of deposits that members entrusted to the credit union are ready to go to work as loans for new and great ideas. Federal financial support programs have worked to bolster our financial numbers while management worked to get ahead of the pace of change.
This will be my last year as chair, though I’ll continue to serve on the Board. We are fortunate to have a strong group of directors, and regular turnover of board roles and responsibilities is part of our practice. We were happy to welcome new directors in 2021. Ryan Bedford and Christy Kriegsman are familiar faces returning to the Board. We appreciate the depth of knowledge they both bring. Michele Fisher is our first Portland-area director. Her experience with virtual engagement has given us all a new look at how the Board can function.
In the year to come, O Bee will focus more than ever on serving the whole community. We plan to bring basic banking to more people, offer a more diverse selection of business loans, deliver better online services, and increase charitable giving. Our strategic plan directs management to focus on sustaining a strong net worth while investing in our talent, expanding services, growing membership, and increasing lending to people affected by the pandemic.
We are able to do good in the community because we are doing well financially. That is thanks to you, our members. When you bank with us today, you enable us to make the most of the future for all of us.