2020 Annual Report
Steady in Turbulent Times.
Ready for What's Next.
UW Credit Union proudly serves a diverse group of members at all ages and stages of life, delivering competitive interest rates, minimal fees and excellent value. We’re also proud to embrace change. In 2020, that meant adapting to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and fostering social progress during historic demonstrations about racial justice.
Cover Art by Mike Lroy
2020 Year In Review
Safety and Stability
Keeping our members, employees and communities safe was the top priority when the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Our response included:
- Expanded drive-up service while lobby service was suspended
- Emergency personal loans and loan payment extensions for members in need
- A web page dedicated to COVID-19 communications for members
- Guides to handling financial setbacks, using online banking tools and more
- Enhanced cleaning and safety protocols in our buildings
- A switch to remote work for many of our employees
in emergency personal loans
gallons of hand sanitizer for members and employees
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
We strengthened our commitment to DEI with these efforts and more:
- Enhancing our core values
- Creating a vision statement that spells out our DEI goals and helps us track our progress
- Providing thought leadership about racial justice and social change in our industry and beyond
- Expanding the slate of DEI-focused learning opportunities for employees
- Supporting progress by donating to change-makers in our communities
Dane Workforce Housing Fund
To help create affordable housing for teachers, nurses and other working adults in Dane County.
United Way of Dane County and United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County
To bolster the COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund, which provides assistance to individuals, families and nonprofits facing emergencies during the pandemic.
Free Food Delivery
We partnered with EatStreet to offer members free delivery from their favorite restaurants. This saved them money while providing an easy way to support local businesses.
We were the top mortgage lender among Wisconsin credit unions, and many members were diligent savers despite the pandemic’s many challenges.
increase over 2019
Using Home Equity to Pay Off Debt
"About 10 years back, we were in a great financial situation, but when we took a big chance on a new venture, we found ourselves stuck with a lot of high-interest debt.
Even though we were in a strong position, had great jobs, things got really tight around that time. We wanted to get rid of this debt so badly but just couldn’t get ahead. We found that our local financial institutions didn’t want to work with us, despite our good jobs and financial history.
Then we met Virginia at UW Credit Union."
Unprecedented Times, Exemplary Service
"Many companies are talking about how they’ve helped customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, but UW Credit Union has truly stood out with its exemplary service and care for its members. It has asked for patience, touted its success metrics and provided clear action steps that benefit both members and employees, all while stressing that safety is paramount.
I have so appreciated being a member, especially in 2020. When I was furloughed from my job, it was such a relief knowing I could immediately apply for a personal loan with fair and favorable terms and extend my auto loan by three months. UWCU acknowledged the challenges of these unprecedented times while also offering something of concrete value that was well within its wheelhouse and risk level."
Giving Back and Making a Difference
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)
In addition to fortifying our in-house DEI program, we promoted racial equity in our communities by supporting organizations working to narrow achievement gaps and foster financial stability among historically marginalized groups.
$250K over 5 years
Filene Research Institute’s Center of Excellence for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
To conduct research on workforce diversity and underserved populations in the financial services sector.
Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness, COVID-19 Relief Fund
To help vulnerable populations secure food, housing, medication, child care and other necessities during the pandemic.
Madison365’s 2020 Leadership Summit
To help professionals of color throughout Wisconsin develop their leadership skills.
We help people build brighter futures with $30,000 in college scholarships, plus free financial literacy webinars and donations to programs promoting access to higher education.
$100K over 3 years
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Foundation’s Life Impact Fund
To support adult students who are parents as they work toward college degrees.
Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukee’s Grad Plus Program
To fund tutoring, academic advising and college tours for teens facing significant barriers to higher education.
Literacy Network’s Advanced Advising for Career Transitions
To help people with low literacy and limited English skills develop proficiency in reading, writing and computers.
We support hundreds of worthy causes each year through charitable giving, volunteering and free services such as credit consultations. In 2020, we dedicated extra time and funds to United Way chapters in Dane, Milwaukee and Waukesha counties to help neighbors in need during the pandemic.
The Wisconsin Sustainable Business Council named us a Green Master for the fourth year in a row in 2020. We lead by example with environmental initiatives such as these:
- Using 100% renewable power and innovative energy-efficiency practices
- Promoting bike-sharing programs
- Implementing composting and recycling programs
Using Public Art to Promote Equity and Justice
State Street, the pedestrian mall connecting the University of Wisconsin-Madison to Wisconsin’s Capitol, is a gathering place for protesters who have helped shape national attitudes about civil rights, gender equality and more. It’s also home to a UW Credit Union branch that has taken the organization’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts to an exciting new place—with art.
increase in staff, adding to Wisconsin's workforce
UW Credit Union is consistently recognized as a top Wisconsin workplace, and with good reason: We care about the health, happiness and future of our employees and their communities.
We strive to make each employee feel welcome, accepted for who they are and empowered to do their best work. A key part of this effort is allyship, a way of using one’s privilege to promote the interests of less privileged individuals and groups.
Time Off for Wellness and Volunteering
We introduced additional time off to help our employees stay safe, tend to their medical needs and care for loved ones during the COVID-19 pandemic. And each year, all full-time employees receive 16 hours of paid time off to assist local nonprofits and charities.
Employee Resource Groups (ECGs)
These employee-led groups offer opportunities for networking, career development and more:
- Black Excellence
- Green Team
- Helping Young Professionals Engage
- Sexuality and Gender Alliance
- Women's Leadership Network
- Raíces Latinx (planned in 2020, launching in 2021)
Our workforce regularly attends workshops to strengthen a variety of professional skills, from leadership and communication to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). All employees are required to complete a four-part course that cultivates a shared understanding of DEI, and many continue this journey with uTalks, a quarterly series of expert-led presentations.
We increased our Foundation Wage to $16 per hour, reflecting our commitment to providing all employees with a sustainable income.
Meet Our Brand Ambassador, Star Running Back Jonathan Taylor
Many college sports fans know Jonathan Taylor as #23, the Wisconsin Badgers running back who was the first college player to rush more than 6,000 yards in a three-year span. In early 2020, he was drafted to play in the NFL. He was also drafted to be UW Credit Union’s first Brand Ambassador, which involves raising awareness about our organization through events and social media. Here’s what Jonathan has to say about making a difference in his first year on the job.
If you’re wondering why a football player would partner with a financial institution, I’ll tell you: Because I’ve experienced for myself just how much UW Credit Union supports its members in every stage of life. From the moment I stepped into UWCU as a UW-Madison freshman, I knew I was in good hands. Everyone I spoke to was friendly and welcoming. They walked me through my account options and helped me pick one that was right for me. I left with an account, a debit card and a boatload of confidence that I made the right decision.
I signed on as Brand Ambassador after learning just how much UWCU supports Wisconsin communities. I’m incredibly proud to be part of UWCU’s fundraising efforts. In the summer of 2020, we raised $10,000 of much-needed funding for United Way of Dane County and United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. It means so much to me to partner with a company that cares about giving back just as much as I do.
We ended 2020 with total deposits at $3.54 billion and total loans at $2.80 billion. Total assets stood at $4.20 billion, a 26% increase over 2019. Our net income grew 37% to $62.2 million, and our total reserves were $397 million.
With a historic drop in interest rates providing an opportunity to improve household budgets, our members looked to us to handle an unprecedented surge in loan applications. We responded with a full-organization effort to meet the need. Our mortgage lending increased to $2.3 billion, setting a record and representing a 309% increase in mortgage refinancing activity.
Our mission includes providing everyday banking services with minimal fees. These low fees make our checking accounts especially popular, and this popularity makes our checking numbers some of the best in the nation. We served 226,944 checking accounts in 2020, putting us in the 99th percentile and the 38th spot for the product among all credit unions nationwide.
Checking Accounts Served
With Challenges Come Opportunities
Dear Fellow Members:
What a year 2020 was. When it began, we didn’t expect to see a global health crisis, an economic shakeup or a historic racial justice movement. By the time it ended, we had found many opportunities in these challenges.
You may not know it, but finding solutions in trying times is one of our specialties. We were founded in 1931 to help our community pull through the Great Depression. Since then we’ve developed many other specialties, from student lending to financial advising to community partnerships.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how strong we are. We topped $4 billion in assets and broke records by refinancing more than 7,800 home loans. We helped our neighbors with nearly $2.4 million in scholarships and donations to local causes, including pandemic relief funds and organizations that help vulnerable populations thrive. We also deepened our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, launching a $1.5 million racial equity fund that is ramping up in partnership with local United Way chapters in 2021.
Most importantly, we did it together, sharply focused on the best interests of our members and communities. When the pandemic struck, we immediately prioritized community health. This involved a shift to drive-up and web-based service for many members and a shift to remote work for many employees. It also meant more extensive cleaning, thousands of face masks and extra communication with members.
We listened carefully to our members, too. When 80% of those who responded to a survey said they were concerned about income loss, job security and their ability to make loan payments due to COVID-19, we took action with emergency personal loans, loan payment extensions and more. In all, we helped more than 9,000 people with these efforts.
Despite the challenges of 2020, our membership ranks grew to more than 293,000. We attribute this growth to our friendly, highly skilled staff as well as our great rates, low fees and best-in-class technologies.
UW Credit Union is proud to be an organization that’s owned by its members and driven by core values that focus on human dignity. We are grateful for your support, and we are proud to support you.
President & CEO