Momentum’s highly attended CEO panel gathers our leaders to share their respective reflections on some of the most top-of-mind challenges and opportunities for credit unions. Jay-Ann Gilfoy, Meridian Credit Union’s President and CEO will be joining this year’s panel in October. A seasoned business leader, Jay-Ann has served in many leadership positions throughout her career including roles at Vancity, Vancity Community Investment Bank, and Coast Capital Savings. Jay-Ann currently also serves as President and CEO and a member of the Board of Directors of motusbank, a full-service digital bank owned by Meridian,

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jay-Ann to delve into her perspective on the financial services landscape, the significance of community involvement, opportunities at Momentum, and much more.

You’re participating in the CEO panel at Momentum 2024, always a favourite of attendees. Why is participating in this leader conversation important and what are you most looking forward to?

I am most looking forward to the exchange of ideas and the chance to hear diverse perspectives. I anticipate robust discussions on topics like digital transformation, financial wellness, and the role of credit unions in fostering economic stability. I’m eager to explore how we can harness technology not just for efficiency, but for greater accessibility and community empowerment.

I’m also excited to discuss Meridian’s initiatives, like our new brand, and some of the ways we are helping our members in areas like affordable housing solutions and our work to encourage and ensure inclusivity — which are more than just business strategies; they’re part of our pledge to make a positive impact in our communities.

What technological trends and innovations do you believe are key priorities for credit unions to focus on in 2024 and beyond?

It’s clear that the intersection of technology and member-centricity will define our path. We must prioritize digital-first banking: it is a necessity to attract and retain younger Members. And we can’t forget the many opportunities we can uncover by leveraging data analytics to truly understand our Members and deliver personalized services and products that really meet the individual’s need.

I would be amiss if I didn’t include open banking and opportunities with fintechs in this list. Innovative solutions are a big part of the future of credit unions, and we need to consider how these solutions and advancements can help us be more inclusive in promoting access to financial services.

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) to support our employees is also top-of-mind. Meridian is currently rolling out Copilot for our employees and we’ve seen great success in the uptake and excitement around how AI is helping with efficiency and productivity.

As we work to strengthen the credit union system, what can leaders do to embrace and drive future collaboration?

We are about supporting our communities and lifting each other up — we can do that for each other within this space as well. Learning from one another is a great way to collaborate. We need forums for credit union leaders to share best practices, highlight challenges and figure out solutions together. Industry conferences, like Momentum, are an integral part of fostering relationships.

Sharing and recognizing wins of other credit unions and leaders and our collective wins can be a great way to collaborate while also setting a different tone compared to the banks. We need to look at advocating as a unified voice, whether that’s trying to influence policy changes or advocate for investment in financial literacy. There are opportunities for us to come together for a greater good.

In your opinion, what are ways we can embrace diversity and make positive changes for the future, both in the credit union system and in the community?

At Meridian, we are passionate advocates for diversity and inclusion. I firmly believe that embracing diversity is not just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic advantage that drives positive change. We need to see leadership making that commitment. We need to invest in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging and Reconciliation (DEIBR) training and education for employees and support Employee Resource Groups (ERG) in providing a safe space for employees from diverse backgrounds to connect and share.

To really make a positive change and set the tone for the future, we need to look at diversity on our Boards, in executive teams, and ensure that a diverse group of individuals are in the talent pipeline. While we’re working on diversity within our organizations, we also need to ensure we are connecting with and serving Members, entrepreneurs, and small business owners from diverse backgrounds.

We also need to be keeping track of our initiatives and how impactful they really are. Remember, diversity isn’t about ticking boxes; it’s about creating a vibrant ecosystem where everyone thrives.

You currently have many volunteering roles and are very active in the community. Can you tell us a bit about what drives your passion for community involvement?

We are all part of a larger ecosystem, and our actions ripple outward. Whether it’s environmental stewardship, promoting education, or supporting vulnerable populations, social responsibility fuels my commitment. It brings me back to why we as a credit union do what we do — to help Ontarians achieve their best lives. Through my volunteering, I get to play a small part in helping build community resilience.

Hear more from Jay-Ann and other industry leaders this October at Momentum 2024!

Uniting more than 400 credit union and financial industry leaders, our Momentum conference takes place October 28-30 in Toronto this year. Join us to connect, collaborate, and learn from each other. Early-bird registration is available now.

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