"I am proud of the interactive and ongoing dialogue we've had with our members over the past few months. I believe our forthright nature and open communications enabled NFCU members to understand the situation and why this merger was the best option," she added.
Approving the deal will mean that Nationwide's members will receive $79 million total, or roughly 15% of their account balances as of the end of March of this year as the price for the sale. The new bank will benefit from the purchase by having a readymade customer and deposit base that would have taken it months or years to develop otherwise.
Edwards said that almost 17,000 of the CU members took part in the election and that almost 90% of the members who voted cast ballots in favor of the merger.
"The voting and the special meeting went very, very well," Edwards said, noting that the vote had come in about as close to unanimously in favor of the sale as was possible and that she and the board of directors had believed very strongly that this was the course of action the credit union should take.
Founded in 1951, the single sponsor credit union is really almost an extension of the insurance company. Almost all of its members are Nationwide employees, former employees or retirees and their families. The CU's employees are all Nationwide Insurance employees and the CU performs very few of its administrative functions on its own.
Edwards characterized the special meeting about the merger as "very, very positive", but also touched with bittersweet feelings as well. While no one rose up to speak against the sale at the meeting, a few of the older members stood to reminisce about the credit union's history, heritage and service.
"One man talked about how he loved the credit union but how the nature of mutual organizations has changed and evolved and this is just the next step in our evolution," Edwards said.
The next steps include getting the final approvals with the regulators, Edwards said, and working with the bank to accomplish the transition. She expected that the first meetings of what she called the "credit union team" and the "banking team" to work on that transition would take place the afternoon after the meeting.
She acknowledged that the sale has bittersweet feelings for her, as well. Edwards began with Nationwide in 1972 as a secretary working in the insurer's government relations department and said that she didn't even walk into the credit union until 1975.
"I love this credit union," Edwards said. "I love the members. I love my staff. But I am deeply convinced that we have taken the right course."
The purchase of the credit union to a mutual bank drew attention in the credit union industry because the credit union-to-bank conversion issue remains sensitive and because Nationwide was unusual in that the bank is paying the members for their institution. Even noted conversion critics have praised the Nationwide purchase for this aspect. --firstname.lastname@example.org