BY JOSH JUHLKE
Although Amrik Gill began his banking career 13 years ago, his passion for agriculture started long before that—while working the fields of local blueberry farms. As an Agriculture Advisor with Envision Financial, a division of First West Credit Union, he is helping farmers differently, providing expert advice and financing options to help their business grow and thrive.
Gill was born and raised in Abbotsford and has deep ties to the community there. “During my youth, I spent some time working at local blueberry farms where I would pick fruit and work in the processing area,” shares Gill. “Learning about these different areas of the agriculture business was where my interest began.”
After attending the University of the Fraser Valley, Gill forayed into the banking world and took a similar approach—trying out different roles and learning about several business areas. “I began as a teller. After working through a few different roles, I eventually found myself on the commercial banking side,” says Gill.
Gill joined Envision Financial in 2015 as a commercial banking advisor—a great opportunity to truly understand the world of commercial banking. “I had a really great mentor early on who showed me the ropes of commercial lending and all aspects of the process,” Gill says, who joined the agriculture banking team in 2019. “I found that I had quite a few agribusiness members while working on the commercial side. When the organization had an opportunity to join the agribusiness team, it was a perfect fit for me.”
He says several things make Envision Financial different than other financial institutions. “It’s a different culture, not a big corporate feel. It’s much more member-focused, and that is reflected in the work that we do,” says Gill. “We have the best of both worlds—the financial strength and resources of a large organization to fund large financing deals for our agribusiness members combined with the local feel, knowledge, and decision-making of a smaller organization.”
One of the other factors that drew Gill to Envision Financial was its commitment to food security through its community programming and signature cause, the Full Cupboard. “Our commitment to food security runs full circle. From being a trusted local financial partner for farmers, suppliers, and producers to put meals on the table for those in need through our Full Cupboard Program, we know how important safe and sustainable food access is for British Columbians.”
During his time working with agricultural businesses, Gill has realized just how important it is for farmers to have a local financial partner. This organization understands the landscape, challenges, and opportunities in the Fraser Valley. “Farmers want a financial partner who makes decisions from across the table, not across the country. What I enjoy most about what I do is visiting members, asking questions, listening to them, and ultimately making sure we are helping them get to where they want to be with their business. You simply can’t do that remotely,” says Gill.
Not only are Gill’s roots in agriculture, but Envision Financial was also founded by the farming community more than 70 years ago. This shared farming history has fueled Gill’s passion as an advocate for the industry. He believes that society must help local farmers in every way possible. “Without farmers, we don’t have food— I think we often take that for granted when we’re enjoying our meals at the dinner table each day. Our farmers, suppliers, and processors are out there putting in long hours and overcoming obstacles to ensure that we have access to food—we all need to support them.”
In his earlier days, there were some critical values instilled in Gill, which he uses in his work today. “I have really tried to emulate the values and traits that you see in many of our local farmers and agribusinesses—hard work, honesty, and commitment. When my members see that I am willing to put in the time and work with them, it creates a strong and long-lasting partnership.”