After more than 20 years of meeting members’ investment needs, Bethpage Federal Credit Union was ready for a program upgrade.
Members of the $4.2 billion CU in Bethpage, N.Y., will now have more financial planning and investment strategy options through Bethpage Investment Strategies, a newly expanded division.
The expanded lineup will include financial planning, brokerage, asset management, retirement and estate planning, college planning, life insurance, and long-term care and disability insurance.
The rebrand comes via a partnership with INVEST Financial Corp., a Tampa, Fla.-based manager of bank and CU investment programs.
Financial advisers with INVEST serve Bethpage’s more than 180,000-member base, the CU said. Michele Dean, senior vice president of investment services at Bethpage, will continue to head up the group that currently employs nine financial consultants and a four-member support team who manage a $350 million portfolio for more than 4,000 clients.
First established in 1988, Bethpage Financial Services provided services to employees of Grumman Aerospace, the founders of Bethpage. A 2003 federal community charter opened up membership to most Long Island residents residing in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Dean recalls how many of the members back then used Bethpage Financial to handle transactions such as 401(k) rollovers. It wasn’t uncommon to see plans with $500,000.
“We want to provide the same types of services when you go to the bigger companies like Merrill Lynch whether you have $40,000 or more than $100,000,” Dean said, adding there are no minimum asset requirements for members to use Bethpage Investment Strategies.
The program shift started more than a year ago when Bethpage’s previous vendor was acquired by another firm a few years prior, Dean said. A company mandate required its financial institutions to move to a certain self-clearing platform. Bethpage Financial chose to remain on an existing platform and initiated the process of looking for other providers. The request for proposal search, which took a year, involved screening seven firms.
INVEST won out because of its paper-free technology platform for financial planning and more robust pricing and product offerings, among other features, Dean said. The firm also offered managed money products, which is the direction Bethpage’s investment division wanted to move in.
“In addition to some of the most efficient technologies and systems in the investment industry, INVEST gives our financial consultants the resources to provide our growing members with information that is accurate, timely and relevant to their needs, plus service that is efficient, reliable and valued,” said Grace Braeuer, operations manager at Bethpage Investment Strategies.
The three-month broker-dealer conversion was completed Aug. 10. Dean said notifications on the change went out to members well in advance. All but three clients made the transition.
With the new alliance, came a new moniker. Bethpage Financial Services became Bethpage Investment Strategies, Dean said.
“We thought Bethpage Financial was generic. To be more clear, putting ‘investment’ in the name seemed to make more sense since we were converting to a new partner.”
The conversion came around the same time of the Dow Jones industrial average’s 500 point drop that led to a global market roller coaster. Bethpage Investment members took it all in stride, Dean said.