The $125 million First Jersey Credit Union of Wayne, N.J., has broken a regulatory barrier on FOM expansion for state charters.
Calling its approval by the state of a four-county FOM expansion a significant breakthrough, the Passaic County credit union said it can now triple its potential membership base to 1.5 million as a result of the action by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.
Under the ruling granted on an application filed last January, First Jersey can expand into four northern New Jersey counties: Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Union. First Jersey currently has 8,700 members.
First Jersey is one of 19 state-chartered CUs in the state, and the New Jersey Credit Union League said that First Jersey’s was the first such FOM approval in five years.
Christopher Davis, president/CEO of the Wayne CU, maintained the state regulator never attached much importance to FOM expansion by CUs which may account for the paucity of applications.
“I do know our governor has been occupied with other issues and the department itself has seen turnover,” said Davis, citing Gov. Chris Christie’s focus on budgetary issues and public employee benefits.
The state agency, said some New Jersey credit union CEOs, has long favored the banking lobby and has seen a number of bank CEOs appointed to the regulatory job. The current commissioner, however, is Thomas Considine, a former vice president of MetLife Insurance.
“Credit unions have long been the stepchild in the department,” said one CEO who asked for anonymity.
Davis, who also revealed plans for expansion of an indirect auto lending CUSO covering all of the state in line with the FOM approval, credited the New Jersey League with helping break what might be considered a logjam on FOM applications.
“I have to credit Paul and his group for making the state simply more aware of credit unions,” said Davis, referring to Paul Gentile, president/CEO of the trade group.