The new head of the $712 million Silver State Schools Credit Union said he’s optimistic his beleaguered Las Vegas institution can recover enough in the second half “to restore the $2.8 million we lost in the first half.”
Andrew Hunter, the retired Patelco CEO who took over at Silver State on July 11, dismissed any rumors cropping up over the years that the privately insured CU, and the state’s largest, might still pursue a merger partner.
On the contrary, insisted Hunter, Nevada schools represent “an excellent field of membership … a great field and those members deserve” their own CU to serve their needs.
At the same time, Hunter told Credit Union Times on Thursday the financial turnaround for the Las Vegas CU remains extremely difficult but doable despite the very poor Nevada economy, citing a host of positive signs.
For instance, many of the drastic school cuts and teacher layoffs have already taken place “and hiring is now up and higher enrollments are good for us,” said Hunter.
While the Las Vegas unemployment rate remains at a staggering 13.8%, among the highest in the nation, “good things are happening” with real estate values hitting bottom and chamber groups report “tourism is up.”
While acknowledging the raw $300 million in lost assets over the past five quarters, those statistics need clarification and taken alone they are misleading, said Hunter.
“Our asset size is not falling in a ‘bad’ way,” he said. Like other CUs, Silver State “is seeing balances decrease in high interest bearing accounts, such as certificates. Overall, our deposit balances have been flat since December 2010 and we currently are not aggressively paying high rates,” said Hunter, stressing again the CU is basically “working well except for the challenges with loan losses.”
Hunter, who succeeded longtime CEO and attorney David Rhamy, said there are no plans to shutter any more branches or pursue more layoffs, cuts that were a hallmark of the past couple years.
And there are no changes foreseen in the $22 million capital note extended in 2010 and renewed by Ohio-based American Share Insurance through 2015, he said.
Asked how he liked his new job, Hunter admitted to “some reverse sticker shock seeing the current market values on some of the properties we’ve financed.”
But overall, he said, “I’m enjoying myself here and the people are great.”