< Corporate Social Responsibility

Understanding How Economy Fuels the Greater Good

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in March 2020, it created a global economic shock without comparison in modern times. A sudden recession gripped the province, the country, and the world.

In the midst of this new reality, ATB is doing our best to help our customers and all Albertans navigate uncharted territory. We’ve worked with customers to offer tangible, meaningful solutions that helped them address urgent needs and plan for what comes next. And we continued to invest in our communities to help to ensure everyone had what they needed to get through this crisis. While the COVID-19 situation has fundamentally changed many aspects of our lives, it has also amplified ATB’s commitment to being there for Albertans.

This commitment is brought to life in many ways, from ensuring all Albertans have access to banking, to lending a hand to people living in poverty, and contributing to our societal impact. We also work to help Albertans develop the financial literacy skills they need to take control of their money, so everyone can play a role in keeping Alberta moving forward.

Understanding our role and responsibility to the economic health of our province helps us measure our impact and plan for where to focus going forward.

Making Banking Work for Everyone

Four Directions Financial

Four Directions Financial uses biometric technology to make banking more accessible to Albertans experiencing homelessness or living in poverty. Over the last three years, Four Directions has grown to approximately 1,400 customers, with 59% seeing savings at the end of each month.

I don’t feel anxiety coming to the bank because the staff is really helpful, really friendly. I guess the best thing is they’re non-judgmental. And we don’t need any more people judging us for being who we are.

–Yvonne, Four Directions customer

This year we partnered with the Government of Alberta to help open accounts for Alberta Works and Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) customers. As many of these customers have limited or no identification, they are now accessing Four Directions Financial to take advantage of the biometric technology, as well as the additional services offered by Boyle Street Community Services.

Indigenous Relations

As part of our commitment to the greater good, becoming more inclusive and advancing recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we continued working towards Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification with the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB). We also continued the work that began in 2017 to build a comprehensive Indigenous Relations Strategy, a strategy guided by the following commitment statement that articulates our promise.

For ATB to succeed as a truly inclusive organization and as both financial and community partners in reconciliation, it’s vital for team members to be ALL IN with our Indigenous Relations Strategy and we continue to share meaningful ways for them to get involved.

We’re changing the way we work, finding new ways to create happiness and make banking work for Indigenous Peoples, communities and businesses, all while advancing change in our business processes to ensure inclusion practices are embedded throughout our operations.

This work will help ATB become ambassadors of cultural change and active participants in the reconciliation movement across the province. And that is when we truly know we’re listening.

Practising our ABCs

This year, we continued to apply the principle of “ABC”—that’s access, belonging, and clarity—to rebuild ATB’s tools, processes, and policies with particular regard for people with disabilities. For too many people living with a disability, accessing financial services is hard or even impossible. Over the past year we focused on addressing this through our business banking and re-banking apps. This work also expanded to include the atb.com redesign.

The Harmony of Purpose and Profit

For ATB, purpose and profit are intrinsically woven together. Our dedication to support the greater good of Albertans is not something we do “on the side”—it’s incorporated into every aspect of our business and our strategic plan.

Here are some of our initiatives that marry business with our commitment to the greater good:

  • BoostR, our crowdfunding platform for Alberta businesses.
  • Offering free banking to Alberta entrepreneurs during their first year.
  • ATB X Accelerator, an intensive 14-week accelerator for business start-ups.
  • Custom financing at below-market rates to nonprofits including Attainable Homes, Habitat for Humanity and the Home Space Society.
  • Our innovative partnership with Cashco to reach Albertans outside the conventional financial services system.
  • Four Directions Financial, making banking more accessible to Albertans experiencing homelessness or living in poverty.
  • Branch for Arts and Culture in both Edmonton and Calgary that caters to artists and arts and culture organizations.
  • ATB Entrepreneur Centres in Calgary, Edmonton, Grande Prairie, and Lethbridge, where business owners can meet to share ideas, garner support and learn from banking and business experts.
Mother and two of her children standing together with an ATB team member, in front of a Habitat For Humanity home
This Calgary family was welcomed into their new home through Habitat for Humanity’s home ownership program.

Financial Empowerment

Over the last year, more than 80 ATB team members volunteered to deliver financial literacy programming for more than 2,000 Albertans. Many of these programs reached some of the most vulnerable, including people experiencing poverty and homelessness.

Junior ATB in Action

Junior ATB spreads financial literacy and job skills to young Albertans in 84 schools across the province. Each “branch” runs as a partnership between a local elementary school and a nearby ATB branch. Students run the whole thing (with some adult oversight) to learn about how banks work firsthand. They accept real money for deposits and teach students about concepts like customer service, professionalism and financial applications of math. The program aims to show students how to manage and save money, while helping Junior ATB team members develop invaluable life and leadership skills as they learn to navigate the ins and outs of running a bank. Students even run their own boards of directors (miniature suits and ties optional).

Financial Pathways Collaborative

Financial Pathways is a unique partnership between three community agencies and seven financial institutions. It brings the “Each One, Teach One” series of workshops to over 1,000 people in the Edmonton community each year. These free workshops cover a variety of topics, from banking basics to RRSPs and RESPs. Attendees include everyone from newcomers to Canada and at-risk youth, to people seeking employment and those living with mental illness. There’s no selling involved—the focus is exclusively on empowering people with knowledge, so they can better understand and manage their finances.

Junior Achievement

This year we continued to support junior high and high school student financial literacy programming in Edmonton and Southern Alberta. We ran two ATB Junior Achievement days in Calgary, where volunteers delivered programs to junior high students on everything from financial literacy to leadership. In total, approximately 50 ATB team members helped reach over 1,000 students.

ATB team members also volunteered in the Junior Achievement Company Program, which gives students in junior high and high school the opportunity to start and run a company. Students go through the whole lifecycle of a business, from pitching ideas to marketing to sales. Last year, ATB volunteers mentored three different teams of students through the program.

Empower U

Empower U—a partnership between ATB, nine Edmonton-based social agencies and the United Way—offers knowledge and matched savings to vulnerable people in the Edmonton area, primarily geared to women. Participants attend volunteer-run workshops and have the opportunity to save money in an Empower U account designed specifically for this program. At the end of the program, savings the participants have accumulated are matched.

Since its inception, over 1,600 Edmontonians have gone through Empower U, with 235 participants having completed the program in 2019. Together with matched savings, participants saved $129,973 this year ($841,274 to date).

The Alex Centre

We teamed up with the Alex Community Centre in Calgary to design and implement a financial literacy program for interested Housing First clients. ATB team members volunteered as guests for some of the sessions, answering any questions clients had as they moved through the curriculum.

Momentum Tax Time Savings

ATB partnered with Momentum to support Tax Time Savings, a two-year pilot program designed to help low-income Albertans maximize their tax savings. By encouraging people to save a portion of their tax refund in a dedicated ATB account, we helped over 300 participants save more than $320,000 in the two years of the program.

This year the program is providing relief during the pandemic by allowing the 184 participants to withdraw the funds early without sacrificing their matched savings. Beyond Tax Time Savings, looking ahead to next year we will partner with Momentum on the Money Matters program, which gives adults with mental health and addiction challenges the tools they need to take control of their money and manage it successfully.

Group of University of Alberta students standing together outside at the 5Days For The Homeless event kickoff
University of Alberta students spent five nights outside in March to raise awareness and funds for the Youth Emergency Shelter in Edmonton.

Support for Post-Secondary Education

Education nurtures the ingenuity that fuels Alberta’s economy and makes our communities stronger and more resilient. That’s why supporting students and schools over the last year continued to be a focus for ATB.

ATB Loran Scholars

The ATB Loran Awards are handed out by the Loran Scholars Foundation on the basis of qualities that transcend transcripts: character, integrity, commitment to service, entrepreneurial spirit, breadth of interests, teamwork and potential for leadership. All qualities that contribute to the greater good. Loran Scholars are leaders and innovators, dedicated to serving their communities. (We like to think they’re a bit like us.)

ATB 101

ATB 101 is our student work experience and engagement program. Now in its fifth year, it provides meaningful employment, rich in real-world learning experiences. It encourages students to think big, aim higher and make it happen. Last year we welcomed 92 students into our ranks, with one-third of them having their contracts extended.

Norquest Agency

NorQuest College broke new ground in 2019 when it became the first post-secondary institution in Alberta to manage a banking facility. ATB NorQuest is run by college staff and offers students, employees and the community a full suite of banking services. Half of its profits go directly back into NorQuest itself to benefit students. So far, around 570 accounts have been opened on campus.

Our partnership with NorQuest reaches other areas too. We’ve invested in its Indigenous Access Bursaries, which provide emergency financial aid to help Indigenous students stay in school. We’ve also helped design and deliver financial empowerment programming designed specifically for students across campus.

Bow Valley College

We’ve teamed up with Bow Valley College to create the ATB Centre for Financial Empowerment on campus, which gives students access to free financial literacy programming and services. Throughout the year, we also work with Bow Valley to deliver events such as “Ask the Banker,” budget boot camps, money management workshops, a matched savings bursary program, one-on-one coaching, and more.

Post-Secondary Student Financial Literacy and Engagement

Over the last year, we’ve teamed up with six of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions to help students gain an understanding of the basics of finance. We’ve created four learning units covering budgeting, saving, the Canadian banking system and taking control of money. More than 700 students from our partner institutions—SAIT, NAIT, the University of Calgary, the University of Alberta, Mount Royal University and MacEwan University—attended the events this year.

In addition to the focus on financial literacy, our post-secondary teams travelled the province listening to our students at over 120 events, covering a broad range of topics around student successes and engagement. This is made possible through partnerships and efforts with local student clubs, groups, student unions and faculties at 10 post-secondary campuses across Alberta.

Helping Albertans in Times of Crisis

Although the full health and economic fallout from the COVID-19 global pandemic is still unfolding, there is no doubt that the world has changed.

ATB was built specifically to help in times of need. We were first formed to support Alberta through the Great Depression, with a goal to help Albertans rebuild, recover and move forward. We used those lessons, which have guided us over the past 81 years, as we mobilized COVID-19 resources for our customers and all Albertans. This included creating a comprehensive relief program to help people with their most urgent financial needs, supporting the not-for-profit organizations that are helping everyone make it through, and gathering information on available government assistance. We’ll provide Albertans with updates on COVID-19 as the situation evolves.

No one knows exactly what will happen next, but ATB will be here to help Alberta through this too.

Metric FY2019 FY2020 FY2021 target Action plan
Money spent on goods and services from suppliers $564 million $550 million Continue using a supply base that conforms to environmental standards.
Direct economic value generated and distributed Economic value generated: $1.6 billion Economic value generated: $1.7 billion Grow our direct economic value generated and distributed to the Alberta economy through execution of our 10-year strategy.
Economic value distributed: $1.5 billion Economic value distributed: $1.6 billion
Economic value retained: $147 million Economic value retained: $102 million
Net income 1 $138.9 million $101.9 million Grow our net income through execution of our 10-year strategy.
Economic profit 1 $109.6 million $81.6 million Grow our economic profit through execution of our 10-year strategy.
Societal impact 2 $852.9 million $867 million Grow our societal impact through execution of our 10-year strategy.
Range of ratios of standard entry-level wages compared to local minimum wage at significant locations of operation 1.063:1 1.063:1 Continue to keep entry-level wages above minimum wage.
(1) Given the current economic challenges, net income after loan loss provisions has declined year over year.
(2) Includes net income plus total compensation, agency commission, deposit guarantee fee, payment in lieu of tax, sponsorships, and donations.