Caisse populaire in St-Bernardin set to close June 30
After serving the community for seven years, Caisse populaire de la Vallée will be closing its doors effective June 30, 2011.
According to acting general manager Chantal Lajoie, the closure of the service centre, which is located on Main Street in the small community, is the result of the changing financial needs of its members and the ever increasing popularity and use of automated services.
"I know people are disappointed that this location will be closing," Lajoie told The Review during an interview Monday, April 18. "It can be difficult for people to accept change, but this is something we have to do. In the end, we feel we will be able to offer a better service to our clients."
Lajoie said Caisse populaire St-Bernardin had been operating since 1942. In 2004, Caisse populaire St-Bernardin, Caisse populaire Alexandria and Caisse populaire Ste-Anne-de-Prescott merged and became Caisse populaire de la Vallée.
"With increasing operating costs and the need to offer a wide range of specialized services and products, the merger became necessary for Caisse populaire St-Bernardin in 2004," she explained.
When asked how many clients the Caisse in St-Bernardin caters to, Lajoie said there are 280 clients assigned to this location, but a recent study revealed only 56 of those clients use the location exclusively.
"That means most of our clients use other locations in the area," she said. "We will have to closely work with those 56 people who use the St-Bernardin location exclusively so we can make them aware of what their options will be. So far, all of our clients have received letters explaining that we are closing and the reasons we are closing. We will be meeting with many one-on-one to go over what it all means."
Lajoie said counter services will remain available at the head office in Alexandria and the service centre in St-Eugène. She noted that by adjusting to the reality of its member-owners, the Caisse will become "much more accessible," thanks to its four ATMs and the easy to use AccèsD telephone and online service, which are both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Users will be able to make all of their financial transactions at times that are convenient for them," Lajoie commented. "Whichever location you visit, you are still dealing with the same Caisse, determined to meet its members' financial needs. We are going to show clients how to set up direct deposit and how to do bill payments online. We're doing everything we can to make this transition as smooth as possible."
She said the Caisse will offer clients who don't have access to transportation a shuttle service to run between St-Bernardin and Alexandria and a contact person will be assigned to service centres in St-Bernardin, Alexandria and St-Eugène in May to help people learn about using AccèsD telephone and Internet features. Coaching will also be offered for the use of ATMs at the head office and St-Eugene service centre.
For specialized and personalized services in investment, financial planning and asset management, Lajoie said the Caisse has a team of financial advisors available to meet at a time and place of the member's choosing.
"We can meet clients in their homes or at any other location," she noted.
Lajoie said the Caisse populaire de la Vallée is also working to remain one of the most active participants in St-Bernardin through its involvement in community-based events and activities. As in past years, said noted, it will support local organizations through donations and sponsorships.
"In 2010, nearly $79,000 was provided to our communities," Lajoie said. "The Club d'activités familliales et communautaires of St-Bernardin, for example, has received $1,500 annually since 2008."
While the closure will likely be confusing and somewhat difficult for some clients to handle, Lajoie said clients can take comfort knowing they won't have to give up any of the services they have grown accustomed to. She said everyone will have to adjust and she is certain the closure will result in better services to clients.
"Like I said, change can be tough, but I know we will all get through this," she remarked. "We are doing everything we can to make this as easy as possible. We are certain this will all work out for the best and our clients will be pleased with the outcome."