A New York group is organizing to protect future growth and assist managers on compliance and balance sheet worries for continued viability of faith-based credit unions.
The heightened attention on bolstering faith-based CUs was triggered in part by the sudden May 17 collapse of the tiny Convent FCU, a Baptist-run CU in New York City. The CU was conserved by the NCUA.
Leading the organizing effort is Joy Cousminer, CEO of the $14 million Bethex FCU of the Bronx who has been conferring with her New York peers for weeks to charter the 30-member We Care group, dedicated to finding ways to assist faith-based CUs, some of them ailing because of a dropoff in church support, succession dilemmas or financial issues.
Cousminer said she has heard from fellow CEOs from all parts of the country after word got out last month about the effort.
"The fact is too many faith-based credit unions out there are running scared right now," she said, making it paramount that like-minded CUs collaborate to see what can be done.
"We don't want this movement destroyed, and the way things are going it is headed that way." Cousminer is a past director of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions.
New York faith-based CUs have already consulted on remedies such as small CUs joining SBA participation loans to produce income even at low levels like $5,000 or $10,000 and helping each other on financial statements.
Cousminer also said students from Fordham University are now providing accounting aid to a handful of CUs as part of their community service degree work.
The New York CEO said she personally became concerned about the future of faith-based CUs when she heard reports that as many as 1,000 CUs including faith-based and small size would be out of existence either through merger, liquidation or conservatorship within a year.
Without commenting directly on the forecast, NCUA officials said consolidation slowed in the first half of the year, but the industry is on a pace to lose 150 CUs in 2010 though that is not a prediction.
"NCUA is concerned about the trend in CAMEL 3s, 4s and 5s. At the end of May 2010, there were 351 [CAMEL] code 4 and 5s and 1,724 code 3s for a total of 2,075," said John McKechnie, NCUA director of public and congressional affairs.
Overall, Cousminer said she is encouraged by support she is getting for "We Save" among CUs in the New York boroughs. The first formal meeting of "We Save" was held June 24 at her CU with the next meeting scheduled July 20 at the St. Marks Church close to Harlem.