President and CEO of Goldenwest Credit Union, Kerry H. Wahlen, always wanted to move up to the executive ranks. “What I enjoy most about my career with Goldenwest Credit Union is that I work for a nonprofit, financial cooperative whose purpose is help members have access to viable financial options while saving them money. Our credit union’s mission isn’t to maximize profits for stockholders; rather, we exist to provide the highest levels of products and services for our member-owners with affordable rates and terms,” Wahlen said. And his love for this job shows in the strides the company has made in his executive tenure.

While some out there may be skeptical of credit unions and opt instead for big banking, Wahlen isn't worried about that in Utah. “Utah has the largest per capita credit union membership in the nation. The pioneers who came to this territory in the 1840s set up their commerce system with cooperatives. Utahns have benefited from co-ops for nearly two centuries,” Wahlen claimed. So he’s doing his best to make sure member-owners of Goldenwest get every benefit they can.

“As members participate in our cooperative and we share in revenues, we provide reduced fees and added value. For example, at the end of 2017 we returned $1.75 million to our members in the form of a bonus dividend. We’ve awarded bonus dividends to our members each year since 2004, giving $11 million back over 14 years.”

One of the biggest changes after his promotion to CEO was the beginning of an insurance division. “We’ve negotiated agreements with several large, independent A.M. Best A-rated insurance carriers to provide our members amazing discounts,” Wahlen said. This spans the gamut from auto and homeowners insurance to commercial insurance for businesses. On average, Goldenwest members get up to 35% off their premiums because of the credit union’s purchasing power.

Perhaps the most interesting part of their insurance offerings is how “in-house” they keep all their agents. “We have 57 licensed agents at present, spanning our branch network from Logan to St George. We don’t follow a ‘1-800’ model where members phone-in to a call center out-of-state. Our members work personally with Goldenwest Insurance agents located in our offices."

While it was a labor intensive endeavor to set up this in-house structure, Wahlen said their members love the personal attention, so they plan to keep offering and expanding that perk.

Aside from personal and commercial insurance, Goldenwest also purchased a health insurance brokerage, so they can offer health insurance options for individuals and business owners. “In 2017, we purchased a reputable health insurance brokerage that has been serving Utah businesses and their employees for more than 30 years. We have grown to over $32 million in health insurance premium, and project premiums to reach $100+ million within a few years."

While their services have expanded, so have their acquisitions with the successful merger of Goldenwest Credit Union and Utah State University Credit Union. "We have been fortunate to have our hard work towards growth and expansion result in successful ventures for Goldenwest. When I took over as CEO, Goldenwest held $800 million in assets. Today, our assets stand at $1.5 billion."

From Goldenwest’s historic origins as a railroad credit union, they now run several different brands from their own to Utah State University Credit Union and even a credit union branch of Intermountain Healthcare. And they intend to keep those brands running under their own banners to allow their original identities to continue on. “We wanted members from the merged-in credit unions to not only retain the legacy brand that they were familiar with, but also have access to Goldenwest’s broader selection of products, services and benefits that they couldn’t receive from a smaller financial institution," Wahlen said.