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Island Savings moves to Pender Island as sole bank closes

Island Savings to open branch; HSBC pulls plug after 25 years

The 2,600 people who live on Pender Island faced with losing their only bank next month won't have to wait long for a replacement.

Island Savings credit union confirmed Monday that it will take over the space in the Driftwood Centre being vacated by HSBC Canada, which announced it will close the branch Dec. 7 and end a 25-year presence on Pender.

Island Savings expects the new branch to be operational the week of Dec. 10.

The credit union said other than signage and branding, very little needs to be done to the location.

All existing HSBC staff will be staying at the branch.

Residents and businesses who wish to transition to Island Savings from HSBC can do so either by accessing an online membership form after Nov. 26, or by meeting with Island Savings employees who will be in the community prior the closure of HSBC.

Jan Garnett, a Pender resident since moving from Victoria in June, said the credit union's arrival is a "big relief" to know there will still be a financial institution on the Island. "The fact that Island Savings has stepped forward to fill the gap says a lot about their understanding of Island community values. As fans of their way of doing business, many of us are very pleased."

According to Island Savings, the credit union was not provided with the number of HSBC account holders on Pender's two islands. However, the credit union expects they will have 400 new members within the first year and 1,400 within five years.

"Moving financial institutions can take time ... just by appearing on the island we don't expect people to just move directly to us," said Island Savings spokesman Jason Kolt.

Initially, Island Savings will offer basic deposit and transaction services, account openings, term deposits and RRSPs.

The second phase of the company's move to Pender, as systems are put into place, will include offering other services like credit cards, lending through the business development team, small business services and financial planning.

Island Savings is also extending a Waves of Kindness offer to new members of the Pender branch through Dec. 31. For every new member account that meets the offer's criteria, the account holder will receive $50 and can direct a matching donation of $50 from Island Savings to a registered, local charity of their choice.

"Island Savings stepping forward is not only a great relief for us; their brand philosophy is an ideal fit for the unique character of the Island," said Pender Island resident Janie McAulay, a former Island Savings general manager who has been brought back on contract to set up operations for the branch.

"Their exceptional level of professionalism, focus on community investment and personal style of customer service reflects the values we on Pender Island take great pride in," said McAulay. "When an organization of this size takes a personal interest in addressing the challenges that we are facing here, it says a tremendous amount about the type of community partner we will have moving forward."

Moving to Pender will be added to Island Savings' three-year, $15-million expansion program, which included relocation of its flagship branch to the Duncan Mall and new Victoria branches in former Blockbuster Video locations at Fort and Foul Bay and Tuscany Village.

"We have a very successful banking model that is well suited for Island living," said Island Savings CEO Rod Dewar. "Our original expansion plans for 2012-13 were focused primarily on the Victoria and Duncan areas. However, when we heard about the dilemma that Pender Island residents and business owners faced, we felt compelled to look seriously at a solution that would work for the Island community and ourselves."

Island Savings has 58,000 members and more than $2.8 billion under management.

By the end of this year Island Savings will have 16 locations, six of them in Victoria.