Credit union votes fail to resolve board pay dispute

A group of Coast Capital Savings members is calling on B.C.’s Financial Institutions Commission to step in to sort out a dispute over the remuneration of credit union board members.

It is the latest move in the complex ongoing battle between the Coast Capital’s board and disgruntled members. Despite the credit union spending $200,000 to mail information and eight special resolutions for members to vote on, nothing was sorted out at this week’s annual general meeting.

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It’s not clear what will happen next. A group of members failed this year to win votes necessary to cut board members’ pay to bring it closer to VanCity rates.

Coast Capital is Canada’s second-largest credit union, after VanCity. It administers $14.8 billion in assets. Coast Capital has 50 branches on the Lower Mainland and 15 on Vancouver Island.

Total director compensation paid to Coast Capital’s board in 2013 was $693,207, down from $720,529 in 2012, the 2013 annual report said.

Board chairman Bill Wellburn received a total of $148,312 in 2013, down from $157,080 the previous year.

Last month, Coast Capital’s 512,000 members received what some called a confusing information package, which included the eight resolutions up for a vote.

All eight failed to get the needed votes to pass.

The resolutions — four from the board and four from individual members — were about board compensation, length of term on the board, CEO compensation disclosure, and whether board candidates should be permitted to campaign for seats.

Last year, members voted in favour of a Coast Capital Compensation Watch plan intended to reduce board remuneration. The credit union then set up a members’ task force to review the formula setting director compensation and decide if it should be changed. That task force proposed a new philosophy that board members would receive “compensation proportional to a peer group of Canadian financial services institutions of similar size and complexity, including credit unions, trust companies, banks and insurance companies.”

Phil Embley, spokesman for Coast Capital Compensation Watch, said Thursday that because the task force recommendation was not approved this year by members, then last year’s resolution aimed at reducing board remuneration should stand.

He will urge the Financial Institutions Commission to step in and enforce last year’s resolution to reduce board pay. “Where this will go from here, we are not really sure,” he said. Glenn Wong, chairman of the board’s governance committee, said in a statement that given that there is no member-approved outcome on the issue of board remuneration, the board will listen to input from members and reflect on what its next steps should be.

“This is the second year this issue has been raised by the membership, and we take that seriously,” Wong said.

“We consulted with members over the past year to find a compensation framework they felt was right. This vote outcome tells us we still have more work to do to find the approach they believe is fair and in the best interest of the credit union.”


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