Building Smarter Financial Consumers


Financial literacy… It’s almost beginning to be a “catch phrase” in today’s society. Everyone is talking about it, but what are they doing to help it catch on? What does it mean? How do we promote financial literacy to the youth of today?

Investopedia defines financial literacy as “the possession of knowledge and understanding of financial matters”. It describes it further saying “it entails the knowledge of properly making decisions pertaining to certain personal finance areas like real estate, insurance, investing, saving, tax planning, and retirement.”

Financial education should be life-long; beginning with parents in the home, continuing through elementary and high school and persisting into adulthood.

If you are at this point, you deserve a gold star for listening (or reading)! Here’s why: I have done many presentations to students from grades 9 to 12 in the past few months and the one common trend I see in these classrooms is the lack of interest in the topics around financial literacy. One question I always ask the kids is “Can anyone tell me what a credit card is?” The answers to this question have proven to be very alarming and at times, comical. These kids are 16 to 18 years old and can’t confidently tell me what a credit card is let alone how it works! I can’t help, but ask… How can we expect these youth to be responsible with a credit card in a few short months when they are able to sign for their own card?

Starting at home can be the easiest and most effective way to introduce personal finance as well as the financial concepts required to give kids the knowledge and confidence to be smarter consumers into their teens and adulthood.  I have broken down a small list of ways to help kick start these life skills at home. Try some of these out, your kids (and their financial advisor) will thank you!

  1. Be a savings role model.
    I’m not sure if you have noticed or not, but kids are so good at copying behaviour! Sometimes it’s easier to focus on the bad habits but they do pick up on the good habits too. Use jars to organize your household finances – divvy up the money required for groceries, gas, utilities, and entertainment to help the kids relate to the money and to see how much it costs to keep the fridge full!
  2. Pay your kids cash… cold, hard, cash.
    I’m guessing you already give your kids an allowance, right? Give them the cash to earmark for either spending or saving. Give them a special jar or piggy bank for savings and a cool new wallet for their spending money.
  3. Use the 10% rule.
    Teach them to split that big birthday cheque from great-grandma and immediately take 10% and put in their piggy bank to save for the future.
  4. Start saving early.
    From their first allowance to the time they move out. Talk about their savings and be firm with goals they have set for themselves!
  5. Come on Dad… give them some dough!
    One sure-fire way to encourage saving is to match their savings effort. Jimmy is saving for his first car, challenge him to save at least half; if he can reach his target you’ll give him the same amount.
  6. Post pictures of the savings goal.
    There is nothing that makes you more motivated to save then staring at that new bike you really want! Post pictures to the fridge, bulletin board, or even the background of the computer and iPad!
  7. Measure progress and give rewards.
    Create a colourful savings chart for long term savings goals. Reward progress with stickers, screen time, candy, time with friends, or even a later bedtime!
  8. Teach financial concepts.
    Such as compound interest, credit cards, consumer rights, and cost of credit. These are important concepts that will ensure your kids are fit to make their own financial decisions and be a responsible consumer.
  9. Introduce banking.
    Take them to meet with a financial expert at the local financial institution (like the Credit Union) to open up their very own savings account. Let them have a discussion and build a relationship with the financial expert, this will be a valuable relationship for all three of you!
  10. Don’t forget the fun, Mom!
    By no means will these steps be easy, but you can use some fun to make it a bit more interesting! Use board games, challenges, online apps, fun videos, or other fun activities to encourage your kids to learn and grow their knowledge.

By using a couple of these tips, I hope you are able to help your kids feel valuable in your household, and give them the power to go out on their own and be financially healthy. By investing in your child’s financial knowledge, you can be sure it will have a life-long impact on how hey look at their own finances and they will be more likely to make smart decisions in the future.

Naomi Seaborg, Conexus Credit Union

Next Gen & Friends Drop in Event


NYLC & SYL Present :
Next Gen & Friends Drop in Event

Sunday May 1st 2016 (after CCUA Conference welcome reception)

Hudson’s Pub – Pacific Room
(less than 1km from TCU Place approx 9 min walk)
401 21 Street E Saskatoon,
Saskatchewan S7K OC5


Drop in for a drink, some appetizers and great conversations

Growing Season

Spring is in the air and I have been planning a new garden box and have been thinking about the lessons that are learned from growing a garden. From the planning stage through to harvest, there are successes and failures, but one thing is for sure, you are never in control.

At the beginning we can plan the perfect location, prepare our soil and then sow our seed when the time is just right. Once that seed sprouts we start to nurture, train and protect the plants as they grow to maturity and hopefully, we have a bountiful harvest. Of course, it isn’t that easy. From the time the seed is sown to maturity, there will be a number of challenges and obstacles in the way of that harvest. We are better equipped than ever in dealing with the challenges, but without control there will always be variable results. You can do everything “textbook” and still have a crop failure or you can give up and later find a flourishing plant; sometimes it just doesn’t matter.

A gardener can only create the conditions for growth and as long as those conditions are maintained the growth will continue. As leaders, we need to provide the right conditions and be agile enough to meet the evolving needs and be able to react to the changing environment around us.

Steven Schwartz
Prairie Centre CU

SYL and NYL working together!


The SYL Committee is pleased to be partnering with the National Young Leaders Committee at the 2016 National Conference for Canada’s Credit Unions.  This year the Conference is being held in our very own province.  The conference runs from May 1-4, 2016 at the TCU Place in Saskatoon.

The first days of the Conference focus on the CU NextGenTM Leadership Intensive.  The NextGenTM Leadership Intensive is an exciting leadership development program hosted by the NYL Committee.  It provides Canadian credit unions with a unique opportunity to develop their young and emerging leaders by preparing them to be next senior decision makers in our system.   The remaining days of the conference will feature keynote speakers, forum discussions and a trade show.

The SYL Committee’s involvement in the Conference will include:

  • A booth at the trade show
  • Volunteering throughout the conference, specifically NextGenTM events
  • Co-hosting an event with the NYL Committee on the evening of May 1 (open to all conference participants)

The SYL Committee would love to see you at the conference. Registration to the conference is filling up quickly.  For more information on the Conference, as well as registration please visit: The Conference booklet can be found on the website.

As always, feel free to reach out to any of our SYL Committee members with questions or comments:

Ashley Kennedy | SYL Chair | SaskCentral | | 306.566.7746
Naomi Seaborg | SYL Vice-Chair | Conexus CU| | 306.365.2254
Brittany Halkyard | Crossroads CU | | 306.547.3213
Chantelle Doratti | Affinity CU | | 306.657.6836
Darren Enns | Luseland CU | | 306.372.4444
Sheena Soke |Cornerstone CU | | 306.786.2254
Steven Schwartz | Prairie Centre CU | | 306.967.1212
Summer Allen | New Community CU | | 306.653.5134
Amy Bott | Admin Support | SaskCentral | | 306.566.1227

SYL Professional Development

Make Learnings Stick

How to Get the Most out of your Development Opportunity

Are you taking a closer look at “learning transfer”? Are you wondering how to make sure the lessons taught through your leadership training and development efforts stick weeks, months, or years later? There is no magic bullet to ensure people apply what they learn. But there are steps you can take to create leadership programs, experiences and supports that improve the likelihood that lessons will be learned and applied. Over time, new skills, perspectives, or behaviors can be reinforced, until they become unconsciously and competently put to use.

Start to Think in Three Phases:
What happens before and after the formal part of a program or development effort is just as important as the content and delivery. This is true whether the initiative is long or short, in-person or virtual, ongoing or one-time.

As soon as you or someone you know has decided to participate in a development opportunity, the process begins. How do you get yourself or them thinking about leadership experiences, challenges, and needs How do you help them connect to the purpose, content and value of their developmentexperience?

The prepare phase involves good communication about logistics and expectations—but also begins to build an emotional connection to personalize the learning experience or opportunity. It is a chance for the learner to engage and excite —rather than approaching the process as another item on their calendar. Research shows that participants begin to engage in a development experience when they are able to make plans with a boss, mentor, or coach and discuss the support they will need. In addition, learners need information and activities to help them understand how the program will benefit them.

The content of a learning experience is important, but so is the way it is presented. Listening to speakers and reading information is a passive learning process—and information is less likely to stick than processes that connect and engage each person through applied practice. Whether you are working in a live, face-to-face setting or a virtual classroom, consider a mix of activities such as skill-building, action-learning, reflection, simulations, experiential activities, goal-setting and coaching.

Reinforcement and support at work—away from the learning environment and over time—is essential for learning transfer.

Most people need structures that foster the application of new concepts and practice of new skills to achieve behavior change. Learners need support and encouragement to get past the initial awkward phase that accompanies the application of new skills. Some options include action-learning projects tied to real work issues, conversations to help connect new learning to an existing business challenge, follow-up lessons through reading, discussion, eLearning assignments, toolkits or job aids, and coaching focused on making progress on goals.

Written by Tracy Enright Patterson and Diane Reinhold

Questions to Ask Yourself Before, During and After a Development Opportunity

  1. How might you start learning right away?
  2. How might you create opportunities for guided practice and skill development throughout the development opportunity?
  3. How might you create opportunities for the participants to use and continue new learning at work and beyond?

Update your profile for the SYL Community

It’s as easy as 1,2,3

  1. Visit our website
  2. Go to our membership page
  3. Complete the form

Know any others who might be a fit, are they?

  • Honest, trustworthy and committed team member. They look at the positive things in life and are focused as winning as a group
  • Committed to action and oriented towards the solutions by embracing change and supporting their team members through the change
  • Passionate about strengthening the credit union system and the member experience
  • Others see them as supportive, compassionate and fun-loving. They see themselves as someone who supports the cooperative values of being part of the credit union system. They are willing to take risks and are focused on improving themselves personally and professionally

Visit our website:
Follow us on twitter: @SKYoungleaders
Or send us an email:

Farewell my friends…

The SYL Committee would like to wish farewell to our three outgoing committee members.

Adam Johb – Business Development Manager, Biggar & District Credit Union
Adam’s kind heart was always evident when difficult decisions had to be made. His knack for simplifying the situation was extremely important this past year. He also knows how to make you laugh!

S – Strategic thinking – especially this year we’ve learned to think strategically and build other skills that will be helpful for our careers
Y – Yourself – you learn to believe in yourself and that you’re capable of more than you ever thought
L – Lifelong connections – I’ve developed connections from SYL events and being on the committee that will last a lifetime

Courtney Wishlow – Senior Communications Consultant, Conexus Credit Union
Within a short time in the credit union system Courtney has made an immense impact with SYL and Conexus. She is insightful, creative and shoots from the hip! Her generosity and encouragement is valued by all who know her.

S – synergy – we really meshed well, I have built lifelong relationships!
Y – you own it – accountablity, something that was hard, but so worth it
L – learning – this committee taught me a lot and I am so proud to be able to use these skills for so many years to come, thank you!

Cris Richer– Manager Human Resources, Diamond North Credit Union
Cris’ quiet observation of what is going on around him and summarizing it for everyone is a skill not many possess. His sharp wit and vast skill set for all things brought so many ideas to the group.

S – Successful Leaders
Y – Yield
L – Loyalty

That’s a Wrap…Goodbye 2015…Hello 2016! 

Keeping a positive mental attitude contributes to your success


My first meeting with the SYL group we each signed up to write the blogs to be posted in a specific month. I made a list of a few different topics I felt comfortable writing about and did further research and reading as I wanted to write a post that would be of value to those who read it. My deadline was approaching and as I read other young leaders blog posts I started to doubt my message and ability to perform at the same level them. I put that post aside to share some of the things I remind myself of when my internal voice turns negative. These are things I do to try ensure my success:

  • You are in charge of your future. Think about where you are and where you would like to be in the future? Be honest with yourself about what you need to get there. Is there a gap in your education or experience? Don’t wait for someone to tell you what you need to do.
  • Self-improvement and skill development is important; don’t just focus on formal training. While working on projects involving other workgroups in the office or while volunteering I have learned areas within myself I want to work on to help position myself to move forward.  Working with people you admire helps you identify personal growth opportunities.
  • You willget back what you put in (the more effort on your end the more personal learning, development etc. will come out of your involvement) At the same time all you could do is your best at this time.
  • If you try something and fail at least you know you did your best and won’t regret not doing more. You won’t succeed if you never start. People want to see those around them succeed, even if your current endeavor isn’t as successful as you hoped, you will get valuable feedback.
  • Be open to feedback, the good and the bad continue to evolve. It will help you realize what’s working and what needs to be reworked. If you don’t get the results you hoped for i.e. a job you wanted or buy in on an idea, ask why and listen so next time you can address those barriers.
  • Share your thoughts, opinions and ideas. Welcome discussion, challenge and opposition that might come up. My position on a topic has evolved and I have learned immensely from those that oppose me.  Some of the best ideas or solutions to problems come from working through resistance.
  • There is never a good time or enough time. Your life will never be perfect or get to the point where you know you have time for things that come up. You won’t always be ready when opportunities present themselves. Say yes, make the time and stay positive. If you feel nervous, scared or worried you are out of your comfort zone this is a prime learning opportunity.
  • Don’t be intimidated, our organizations and system is full of really intelligent, productive, amazing people and just because you may not be at the same level as someone else out there doesn’t mean you will never get there. It also doesn’t mean that you are not bringing value to what you are doing.

By reviewing these points when I start doubting or thinking negatively, I quiet that internal voice and push ahead. I was worried about writing to this for an audience, let alone sharing my personal thoughts, but reviewing these thoughts helped me gain the momentum to keep going. My points might not work for you the important thing is you find what does.

Sheena Soke
Cornerstone Credit Union

Some days I think I am no good at my job

Of course, there are lots of days that I feel like a rock star too. In any job, as in life, you have awesome days, so-so days and tough days.  When you are in a leadership role, your bad days are often being observed by others and can become magnified.  I learned early in my career that every interaction offers you an opportunity to earn or lose respect and trust.  It’s a scary thought! But, like it or not, people in leadership roles are often being closely observed by those around them and its crucial to be aware of the impact and influence your leadership can have on others.

Four years ago when I moved into the role of Financial Services Supervisor, I read an article that really resonated with me.  It talked about how “superstars” in organizations get promoted because of their great sales skills, but the skills and attributes that made them successful in their previous roles are of lesser importance in their new supervisory role.  For example, in my role as Financial Services Representative I was very self-motivated, good at building relationships with my members and had great success in sales as a result, subsequently resulting in personal recognition and rewards.  In the supervisory role, the focus is coaching and mentoring employees on these same skills and ultimately motivating others to accomplish the results, thus contributing to my personal success.

Any career change or job transition comes with growing pains and moving into a management role is no exception.  It can be a very difficult transition; priorities, expectations and relationships will change.  But one thing is certain: being a leader and being a manager are vastly different roles. You do not have to be a good leader to be a manager, nor do you have to be a manager to be a leader.

So what does leadership mean? How do you become a leader? What qualities or attributes does a great leader possess?  I definitely don’t have all the answers, so I asked some of the other young leaders at Affinity Credit Union to share their thoughts and insights:

“Leadership to me means guiding, encouraging and inspiring others to reach their full potential and be successful in whatever it is that they want to do.  Great leaders provide a safe environment for learning, encourage development and are good communicators.”  Sarah Kudeba, Financial Services Manager

“Leadership is the ability to carry along other people in a manner that makes use of each person’s strengths, to achieve a purpose.” Michael Ekine, Contact Centre Representative

“A great leader is someone who can create a vision and be able to inspire their team or individuals. They are able to encourage their team and to create a sense of trust within the group.  A great leader is always genuine, and they are able to challenge and motivate their team.”  Taryn Grey, Member Service Representative

“You become a leader the second people start wanting to follow you, whether you like it or not. People want to start following you when you demonstrate that you are worth following; you can’t make people follow you.” Joel Moskaluke, Associate

“Simple – Inspire others.  Make them want to be part of what you’re trying to accomplish.  Embrace change and initiate opportunity, believe in spirited teamwork, have the passion for growth and the courage to innovate in any environment.  Leadership is getting involved and being engaged in your role.  It takes courage, respect and commitment.” Kelly Hood, Financial Services Manager

“The willingness to lead is just as important as the leading itself.  Becoming a leader is tied to that willingness; you have to be able to show others that you want to lead.  It is working with others to help them succeed through good or difficult times, showing them what is required to get there and following up to ensure that goal is met.” Tyson Klapak, Branch Manager

I read something recently about being a selfless vs. selfish leader. So often leaders are told to be selfless, “it’s not about you,” etc. This particular article talked about the need for leaders to be both selfless and “self-first”. “Over time, if you consistently put the needs of others in front of your own, the results will not be sustainable, as there will be little of you left to lead, you will burn out.” For example, a leader must be selfless in supporting and encouraging the growth and development of others, but they must be “self-first” in ensuring their personal development needs are being met. (The article was posted on  Take a look!  The website has some great leadership resources.)

There are so many models, theories and leadership styles out there. In my experience a good leader must: be honest, genuine and committed, build and nurture relationships, lead by example and provide support, encouragement and motivation to others.

And when all else fails, a great leader will step up, get their hands dirty and do the work!

Until next time, Chantelle

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincey Adams

Being an Adaptable Leader

In my opinion, one of the primary qualities of a leader is adaptability.  For me, adaptability is the ability to change to fit circumstances.  Now, definitely, there are some things that need to be done “by the book”, but leading people effectively is not about sticking to a script.  Whether you’re in a formal or informal leadership position, the need for adaptability is real!

Lack of adaptability often rears its head when there is a change in leadership or composition of work groups.  A new manager or employee comes on board in an area that has been constant for many years and he/she may start to ask “why” things are done a certain way.  Often, this leads to some temporary discomfort within the group.  Members often take these questions personally and perceive them as questioning “my” ability, when in fact he/she may simply be trying to better understand the process.  Alternatively, he/she may be far enough removed from the process to have a different approach.

What are some common symptoms when leaders don’t exhibit adaptability?

  1. Creativity suffers :
    We can’t all be great at everything!  We need infusions of new ideas and we need people with strengths in particular areas to WANT to put those skills to good use.
  2. Frustrations among team members rise:
    Team members need to feel like they’re part of the team to be effective employees.  They need to do this without fear of being left out of the group due to lack of conformity.
  3. Quality of work suffers:
    Engaged team members supported by the group are more productive and contribute more in a positive work environment

How do I know if I’m adaptable?

This is, admittedly, a tough question to answer.  As a first step, take a look at your work and personal habits.  Do you:

  1. Focus frequently on getting others involved in what you enjoy doing?
  2. Refer frequently to past experiences when making decisions on new tasks?
  3. Look back at what the culture of your group or organization was in the past when making decisions for the future?

If so, now might be a good time to make a conscious effort to move toward being more adaptable.  You can start with some basics:

  1. Ask different and more open ended questions.  Look for others opinions and preferences and look for ways to make their ideas work.
  2. Look at the bigger picture.  Instead of looking at just the impact of the project or decision on your workload, consider how it will affect the entire organization.  How can you move the process forward in a positive direction?
  3. Experiment and respect multiple viewpoints.  No, by accept I don’t mean you have to personally accept them.  But you will take your team farther by allowing discussions to take place and looking for ways to include the ideas of others in your projects.

In short, being an adaptable leader is being willing to change.  No, I’m not talking about sacrificing your personal value or beliefs.  But by learning to be an adaptable leader wherever you’re at in your career, you’ll be able to reach your end goals while seeing challenges and unforeseen issues as opportunities for you AND your team.

Cris Richer
Manager of Human Resources
Diamond North Credit Union

Finding the Needle in the Leadership Haystack

Leadership is the future and an essential reality in the business world today. What happens when you Google leadership? Try it.  You will get about 482 million results. 482 million! Now if that doesn’t tell you something I don’t know what will. The key for you is searching through the haystack of those results and finding where you fit within leadership and where leadership will fit within your career. Leadership will mean something different for each of you. So find a story, inspiration or video that will help you grow as a leader. Here’s a kick start to your leadership development. I weeded through the 482 million Google results and found a few to get you inspired and “Ignited” as a leaders.

  • This is a neat article that is part of a series of articles in the Globe and Mail called The Leadership Lab. I think it speaks to the importance of member service and how you can lead to serve your members for the better. The Globe and Mail
  • It’s that time of year at work where things have slowed down a bit for me so I am taking opportunities to attend workshops and work towards my annual professional development hours that I need as a Chartered Professional Accountant. I have recently attended a few workshops focused on leadership. One of them was the IGNITE program that was offered by Performance Coaching Inc. This article gives a snapshot of the IGNITE program that I took. It was a great one-day course that provided a lot of self-reflection and leadership coaching techniques to use in my work and personal life. Performance Coaching
  • Simon Sinek provides a simple, but powerful message about how to inspire leadership. When the SYL committee met to discuss our strategy and plan for our future, we used this video to inspire our own “Why”. Interesting enough, it was the #4 video in my 482 million Google results for “Leadership”. How Great Leaders Inspire Action?

I’m a bit of a quote junky so I will leave you with a quote I heard at the Leadercast Live 2015. One was the speakers was Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York City. He started off the presentation by stating that “leaders are not born, they are made”. That resonates with me because although people may have the qualities of leadership inherently, I think you need to take it on yourself to learn from others and “make” yourself into a good leader. SYL has provided me an opportunity to explore new dimensions of leadership, both at the conference last year and now on the committee. Find opportunities that fit, challenge and nurture your leadership skills. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey that leadership will provide for you!

Ashley Kennedy

Leadership & Failure

As I was preparing to write this blog I was struggling to decide on a topic. One evening sitting at the kitchen table I decided to ask my 7 year old daughter about leadership and like always she delivered; one of her quotes. “Sometimes it just doesn’t work out.”

As young leaders we are in the earlier stages of our careers and will have future opportunities that will test our leadership abilities. When we take on these new responsibilities we will all experience varying degrees of success and sometimes failure. Does that make you a failure? No! Does that mean you will never succeed? Absolutely not! You can have all kinds of talent and experience, but it’s unrealistic to think you can succeed in every situation.

Coaches of NHL teams are great example of this. Whether it’s a longer tenured coach or a new up and coming coach, some last many years before getting fired while some last one season or less. A recent example was the hiring of Dallas Eakins by the Edmonton Oilers for the 2013/2014 season. Eakins was considered to be one of the best coaches waiting to make the jump to the NHL with a good record of developing young talent in the AHL. He was fired half way through his 2nd year with the Oilers after a 36-62-14 record in 112 games. Was his stint with the Oilers a failure? Yes. Is he any less of a coach than he was prior to joining the Oilers? Not likely. He was not the right person at the right time for that team and we’ll likely see him coach in the again in the future.


Another example sticking with the coach theme is John Tortorella who coached from 1999 to 2014 was fired 3 times during that period and always finding work prior to the next season. He’s won a Stanley Cup and had success, but as the team changed he was no longer considered the right person at the time. After being fired by the New York Rangers in 2013 he quickly found work in Vancouver. Even with his experience and knowledge of the game, his time in Vancouver lasted one year and was considered a debacle by many. Again, he’ll likely find work coaching in the NHL again.

To sum it up, a quote from Denis Waitley, “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing and being nothing.”

Steven Schwartz, CPA, CMA

Business Development Manager
Prairie Centre Credit Union