The wholly owned subsidiary of the $9.1 billion Members United Corporate Federal Credit Union recently partnered with the $18 million West Ohio United Methodist Credit Union to offer the first institutional investor SimpliCD program offering to its member churches.
The Rev. Russ Abbott, president/CEO of the Cincinnati-based credit union, said he's thrilled to pitch the program to his roughly 1,000 institutional church members. In fact, he's been working on behalf of the Methodist Church Credit Union Association, which he leads, to find a new credit union-driven investment product for the past six years.
"What's unique about our field of membership is that our church members have large dollar deposits exceeding $1 million, usually placed in various endowment funds," Abbott said. "We wanted a product that would allow us to work with members in a very personal way but give them the flexibility of maintaining federal insurance coverage regardless of total amount on deposit."
SimpliCD offers the security and convenience of dividing total investment dollars into individual certificates under federal insurances maximums. The turnkey service monitors individual certificates for members to ensure they remain under insurance maximums and provides clients with one-stop shopping, rather than forcing them to juggle smaller accounts at various institutions.
"This allows us to eliminate some of those banks who have been working with our churches for many years," Abbott said. "Now, we can now walk in and confidently take those $10 million deposits."
Because SimpliCD funds aren't kept on his balance sheet, Abbott said his credit union can "play with the big boys" and manage millions on deposit without any risk to regulatory capital minimums. Conversely, participation loan programs have allowed the small credit union to handle multimillion dollar church mortgages and improvement projects without exposing the balance sheet to real estate losses.
"It's important for credit union executives to think outside the box to add income to their balance sheet without taking on risk," Abbott said, "and the beautiful thing about this program is it allows us to do that."
Natural person credit unions also collect a fee for each SimpliCD investment sold to nonperson members, which can include unions, municipalities, hospitals, foundations, churches, corporations, colleges and universities, lodges, police and firefighter organizations and other cooperatives.
"In an age when we truly have no spread, credit union managers have to learn to produce income without feeing members," Abbott said. "We believe at the end of the day, if we do the right thing by our membership, everybody comes out on top. This is one of those services, which offers something beneficial to our members and produces an appropriate fee income for us."
Amy J. Rapp, SimpliCD sales director for Western Corporate Federal Credit Union, said she is excited about the program expansion, and said she has interested institutional members already lined up.
"Given the new insurance limits, larger amounts of money can go into the system, so there is some tremendous opportunity to expand not only to institutional members, but to larger natural person credit unions as well," Rapp said, adding that many mistakenly believe that SimpliCD is for small credit unions only.
In fact, the small to mid-size credit union specialist said she's been slammed with requests from credit unions of all sizes to invest in SimpliCD products before the Dec. 31 expiration of the NCUA's temporary insurance coverage increase to $250,000.
"I have a lot of clients who have been watching my SimpliCD global e-mails for four years but have never bit until now," Rapp said