Although HarborOne Credit Union members voted to approve converting their credit union charter to a co-operative bank charter, it may take weeks or months to complete the regulatory hurdles, the Boston-area credit union said.
The $1.9 billion HarborOne in Brockton, Mass., said it will be submitting a certified copy of the member vote results and other documents on March 25 to the NCUA and the Massachusetts Division of Banks, which is the first regulatory step in the process that will allow the credit union to convert into a co-operative bank.
HarborOne Members Approve Conversion to Bank
On Monday, the credit union announced members of HarborOne approved the charter change proposal with nearly 62% of voting members casting ballots in favor of the proposal and with over 22,433 of its members exercising their right to vote on the proposal, according to the credit union’s statement.
HarborOne’s 139,078 members were mailed ballots on Feb. 19. Eligible members mailed in their ballot, placed the ballot in a lockbox at one of the CU’s 14 branches, or voted in person during a special meeting March 11. The Colbent Corp. of Braintree, Mass., served as the independent inspector of the election.
After the certified member vote results and its accompanying materials are submitted to NCUA, the agency will have 30 days to either approve or reject the certification. The state’s division of banks will have 10 days to either approve or reject the certification as well.
James Rice, HarborOne’s senior vice president of marketing, said the regulatory agencies will ensure the ballots and materials submitted to members explaining the conversion proposal were identical to the ballots and materials submitted earlier to the NCUA and the state.
“They want to make certain we didn’t make any edits in the materials after the fact, so it will take some time (for the regulatory agencies) to compare what we originally sent to NCUA and what we mailed to members (concerning the proposed conversion,)” said Rice.
“We are not projecting any completion time because the process is subject to regulatory review and possible delay,” added Rice.
HarborOne has already submitted its application to obtain FDIC insurance.
“The FDIC won’t give us any indication of acceptance until after the NCUA and the Massachusetts Division of Banks give their approval on the member vote (certification),” Rice said.
Because of regulatory constraints, Rice said HarborOne CEO/President James Blake will not be making any comments until after all of the approvals are secured from NCUA, Massachusetts Division of Banking and FDIC, the credit union said.
HarborOne will continue to operate as a credit union until the closing of the charter change transaction.
The NCUA also declined to comment Monday.
Operating as a credit union since 1917, HarborOne has grown to become the largest state-charted credit union in New England. Nevertheless, the longstanding credit union has said its reasons to convert were the flexibility to expand HarborOne’s markets and customer base, increase its lending authority, including small business lending, and gain access to additional capital.
HarborOne’s President/CEO James Blake has told Boston media that because HarborOne’s field of membership is limited to four counties, the credit union has been forced to turn down $70 million in mortgages and other consumer loans from potential members who live outside its market.
Soon after the conversion plan was announced Feb. 16, 2012 and approved by HarborOne’s board a month later, it sparked an industry-wide debate and criticism from some credit union leaders.
Except for the $1.7 billion Technology CU of San Jose, Calif. and a few smaller CUs with conversion plans, there has been a lull in activity. Tech CU members overwhelmingly voted last fall not to convert their institution to a mutual bank. Of the total 18,000 votes cast, 14,000 voted no to the conversion and 4,000 voted in favor of it.