Pete Pritts said he was so disconnected from the corporate credit union world after leaving First Corporate CU in 2011, he wasn’t even aware the $2.8 billion Corporate America Credit Union was in need of a new chief executive.
He took a consulting job with a mid-sized natural person credit union undergoing a modernization initiative, and the licensed pilot had been spending more time flying small aircraft as a hobby. The father of two had also taken a more active role volunteering at his 9-year-old daughter’s school.
But despite the relaxing change of pace, Pritts said he was immediately interested when Corporate America recruiters called, asking him to throw his hat into the ring to replace the charismatic and high-profile Thomas Bonds, who resigned in July after taking a mysterious leave of absence.
After 25 years in Arizona, Pritts said he’s ready for a change of scenery and a new challenge; and, he still has a burning desire to improve the image of corporate credit unions after the sector’s 2008 melt down.
“Not everyone has a warm and fuzzy feeling when they think about corporates,” Pritts told Credit Union Times Thursday. “There is still work to be done.”
After working on site at the $130 million Canyon State CU in Phoenix the past year, Pritts said he has observed there is a huge need for the services corporates provide, especially for small and mid-sized credit unions.
“Yes, you can find those services elsewhere, but why not get them from someone you own, trust and can control?” he said. “There is a huge need for what corporates bring to the table. I’ve always believed that but now I have a fresh perspective.”
Corporate America has picked up so many new members from those disenfranchised by the failure of Western Corporate FCU and other failed corporates that its membership ranks doubled in just two years.
Pritts said he was “envious” of Corporate America as he tried to compete for the same members at FirstCorp. The Birmingham, Ala.-based corporate was a tough competitor, he said, because its business model allowed it to provide services without requiring a capital investment, and superior deposit rates.
“With those competitive advantages, good people and getting the word out they did a very nice job,” Pritts said, “and now it’s up to us to keep that value proposition there.”
Pritts will travel to Birmingham next week to meet his new staff and tour Corporate America’s headquarters for the first time. He’s anxious to get started on an assessment period, in which he will review the corporate’s status on regulations, compliance and investments.
Then, Pritts said he plans to work with the board to develop short- and long-term strategic goals, strategies and action plans for 2013 and beyond, and share them with members, regulators and the industry.
“I’m already tired of cliché, ‘the new normal’, but when you think about interest rates being low for quite a while, and new regulations, I think these are factors that will drive business model changes in every financial institution in the world,” he said. “There is lots of work to be done, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get after it.”
Corporate America posted a $1 million net profit as of Sept. 30, despite selling investments at a loss in order to meet NCUA regulations. As of August 2012, the corporate reported with a 3.61% core capital ratio, an interim leverage ratio of 4.29%, a 47.27% total risk based capital ratio and a 0.56% retained earnings ratio.