Maryland’s Educational Systems Federal Credit Union of Greenbelt is charging members of the ailing Montgomery County Teachers FCU a one-time $35 fee to help offset the costs of the all-but-complete $800 million merger.
The unusual request to the 57,115 members of the Derwood, Md.-based MCT as explained in media remarks by ESFCU’s CEO Chris Conway, in a member letter and on the MCT website zero in on large loan losses borne by MCT and the need to restore the merged credit union’s financial health.
The $35 “account conversion fee” would bring in an estimated $2 million, Conway said, maintaining that the cost to MCT would have been much higher at $184 per member had MCT not been consolidated.
The $35 fee is being assessed all MCT members over 22 and including longtime members and employees.
"If MCT had not merged with Educational Systems FCU, for all practical purposes, it would have needed to raise approximately $10.7 million ($184 per member) in revenue to be considered well-capitalized," Conway told the Washington Business Journal. "The one-time $35 account conversion fee is a much better option for MCT members."
In an announcement on the MCT website headlined, “Merger Update: What You Need to Know,” members are told their credit union had been “under significant financial strain due to large loan losses” and as a result the MCT board faced tough decisions.
“Your disappointment with MCT’s performance is heard,” it said. “You can trust that we are working to restore your credit union’s health, service, and legacy to continue to serve the Montgomery County education community.”
.The suburban Rockville credit union had been under a regulatory watch after it suffered large losses in secondary mortgages racking up a $6 million loss for 2010 and $739,000 last year. Its net worth had fallen to 4.4%.
MCT also had recently been hit by an NCUA cease-and-desist order for exam exceptions.
Without mentioning the $35 fee, Educational Systems said just two weeks ago following final regulatory and member approval that it hoped to complete computer conversion early in 2013 with MCT remaining a division.
“Rest assured, we are all in this together,” concluded the MCT website.
Conway told the D.C. business publication that so far the fee assessment has been well received.
"Nobody likes to pay a fee. But they understand the choices that need to be made," he said.
"They want their credit union preserved, and they're willing to pay $35 to maintain a financial institution that focuses on the educational community in Montgomery County,” he said.