Bonds Exit Stirs Up Mild Concern
Two member credit unions say they aren’t running for the exits at Corporate America Credit Union following the July 3 announcement that CEO Thomas Bonds had resigned from the $3.3 billion corporate. However, they expressed disappointment and concern that the maverick and charismatic leader will no longer lead the Irondale, Ala.-based institution.
“It is clear that the corporate credit union industry is changing. As such, I believe that I can better use the skills I have acquired over the past 25 years to assist credit unions with brokerage services,” Bonds said in a release.
He said he will continue to serve credit unions with brokerage services. However, he did not say if he would sell investments for Corporate Financial Solutions, CACU’s investment CUSO. Bonds told Credit Union Times he would not comment on his resignation or future plans.
Steve Swofford, president/CEO of the $515 million Alabama Credit Union, said he’s disappointed that Bonds resigned because he credits him with Corporate America’s success during the corporate crisis. Corporate America was one of a few corporates that did not write off member-contributed capital after U.S. Central Federal Credit Union failed in 2009.
The Tuscaloosa-based ACU isn’t shopping for a new corporate, nor is Swofford concerned about the future of Corporate America thanks to its strong capital and client base.
“My perspective is, I won’t become concerned now, but the future will depend upon who they select as a successor and his or her qualifications,” he said.
Swofford said he’s spoken to interim CEO Dan Buckley twice but doesn’t know him well enough to judge whether or not he’d be a good permanent replacement.
“I know he came to Corporate America with many years of experience at the NCUA, working with corporates, so I would assume that he knows the mechanics of a corporate, how they operate and that sort of thing,” he said.
Buckley joined Corporate America in 2010 as senior vice president of risk management and took over as interim CEO when Bonds took a leave of absence from the credit union in April. Before coming to CACU, he was corporate field supervisor for the NCUA, where he worked for 25 years.
Buckley will continue in his interim role until Bonds’ replacement is selected. He would not say if he will pursue the permanent position.
“The board recognizes this change in leadership may be unexpected news for some members; however, Corporate America like most organizations was prepared for a change in leadership with a management succession plan that has worked exceptionally well,” said Board Chairman Steve Nix.
Alabama Credit Union invested capital in Corporate America, but President/CEO Robert Einstein of the $140 million UMe FCU moved his business from the now-shuttered Western Corporate Federal Credit Union to CACU because of Bonds’ strategy of not requiring capital from new members.
Einstein said he’s a little concerned about Bonds’ departure and said he will keep his eye on the corporate and any strategic changes that might occur as a result. However, he added that the service he’s received has been excellent, and UMe does not anticipating leaving Corporate America at the moment.
Buckley said he’s not concerned that Corporate America will have to replace such a visible leader.
“Corporate America is about our products and our services and providing the best possible delivery of those to our members,” he said. “I don’t believe Corporate America is about any one individual. Corporate America existed long before the corporate meltdown, and that’s when Thomas gained his visibility, and it will continue beyond.”
Buckley said the corporate has no plans to require that members invest capital.
Corporate America and the $218 million Louisiana Corporate Credit Union first announced the intent to merge in January 2011 but have been waiting for nearly a year to gain approval from the NCUA. Both the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions and the Alabama Credit Union Administration have approved the plan.
LaCorp President/CEO David Savoie said Bonds’ resignation will not impact the merger.
“Thomas was, in many ways, an exceptionally talented CEO, and as such, he left an organization that does not depend on any one person for the continuity of its operations,” Savoie said. “Further, I worked closely with Dan Buckley for several years at NCUA, and I know he is very capable of continuing to successfully manage Corporate America as its interim CEO.”
Bonds was the subject of a documented feud with the NCUA Office of Corporate Credit Unions Director Scott Hunt that involved supervisory issues at Corporate America and media articles in which Bonds was critical of the corporate system. Bonds also led a lawsuit against U.S. Central, claiming securities fraud in connection with the December 2008 conversion of $450 million in member capital shares into Tier 1 capital.
According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which performs financial regulation of member brokerage firms and exchange markets, Bonds is registered as a broker with the Milwaukee-based Quasar Distributors LLC, a division of U.S. Bancorp. Quasar is the distributor of Corporate America’s CU Short Duration Fund, with U.S. Bancorp serving as the fund administrator and CFS as the fund’s investment adviser.
As of March 19, Bonds was licensed in seven states: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. He passed his General Securities Representative exam in November 2011 and the Uniform Combined State Law Examination in March 2012.
Bonds is also registered as an Investment Advisor for CFS. He is approved to practice in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana, with “restricted approval” in Texas.
President/CEO of Corporate America for the past 11 years, Bonds was the recipient of Credit Union Times’ Trailblazer Award for 2011 CEO of the Year, largely based on his guidance of the corporate throughout the financial crisis. Under his leadership, CACU members lost no membership capital shares or paid-in capital, one of the few corporates to do so during the financial crisis.
Prior to CACU, Bonds was employed at the NCUA as an examiner for corporate credit unions and principal examiner for natural person credit unions. He is also licensed as both a CPA and attorney in Alabama.