The Golden 1 CU CEO Teresa Halleck said she wasn't looking for a new job when colleagues recommended she take a look at the $5 billion San Diego County Credit Union. SDCCU hired Halleck to replace Irene Oberbauer, who retired in February, and interim CEO Tum Vongsawad, who will return to his previous chief operating officer position after Halleck arrives Aug. 16.
"I was happy at The Golden 1," she said of the $7.8 billion Sacramento, Calif.-based credit union. But "it's good to keep your options open." She isn't familiar with San Diego, she said, but called it "one of those cities you visit for conferences and say 'Wow, wouldn't it be nice to live here.'"
As for SDCCU's smaller asset size, Halleck said, "if someone defines their career by asset size, they're missing the point."
It will take awhile to learn about the credit union's market and specific opportunities, she said, but growth is Halleck's first priority. SDCCU is in good financial shape to grow, with 10.95% net worth as of March 31 per NCUA financial reports, which exceeds peer averages. It recorded a $62 million net profit in 2009, and profits were $12 million for first quarter 2010.
With the exception of a negative 0.33% ROA in fourth-quarter 2008, ROA has been positive at SDCCU throughout the financial crisis, with the credit union reporting 0.99% ROA as of March 31.
Halleck complimented SDCCU's low operating expenses, saying she considers it a low cost leader and tried to model operating expenses at the Golden 1 after the leaner SDCCU.
According to call reports, SDCCU has 209,175 members, despite a field of membership that includes San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties, and a total population of 8 million. But, competition in the area is tough. During the housing boom, one fast-growing Riverside suburb that includes the cities of Temecula and Murrieta drew commuters from San Diego, Orange and San Bernardino counties. As a result, several large credit unions have branches in the relatively small community, including SDCCU, the NCUA-seized $876 million Arrowhead CU, the $881 million Altura CU, the $1.65 billion California Coast CU, the $8.3 billion SchoolsFirst FCU, the $581 million Pacific Marine Credit Union, and the $635 million USA FCU.
Halleck has served eight years as president/CEO of The Golden 1, where she grew it from $4.2 billion to $7.2 billion in assets. She currently serves as an executive committee member of the California Credit Union League and on several other boards.
"Teresa was the perfect fit for SDCCU based on her extensive executive level management experience, proven track record in running large financial institutions, and appreciation of SDCCU's culture and focus on our customers' needs," said Allan Shaw, chair of the SDCCU board.