Although they are less frequent than credit union to bank charter changes, from time to time some banks have made the move to become credit unions, according to the NCUA.
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is in the process of launching a new credit union that will take the consumer business of Thrivent Financial Bank, while the bank will remain in existence as a vehicle for offering trust and investment services.
The latest bank to have become a CU prior to Thrivent Financial Bank is the now 301,000-member, $4.1 billion ESL Federal Credit Union in Rochester, N.Y.
ESL started life as a federally chartered Eastman Savings and Loan Association in 1920. George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak, founded the bank to serve Kodak company employees, particularly in obtaining mortgages, according to the credit union's website.
In 1996 the bank, which had always operated like a credit union, went ahead and changed charters, in part to expand its appeal to the community beyond Kodak employees.
After at least one major CU merger in 2002, the CU took on the employees of the Wegman's supermarket chain as well and the CU now has 19 branches and 40 ATMs in the Rochester area.
Thrivent Financial Bank itself was created from the consolidation of three credit unions, one trust bank and one community bank in 2001.
A Thrivent spokesman on Friday said the organization expects to seek a federal charter for its new credit union but that final approvals are still pending from its board, as well as the NCUA, OCC, Federal Reserve, FDIC and Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner.