Corporate America Undergoes Big Changes Under Pritts Regime
Since taking the helm of the $2.2 billion Corporate America Credit Union in November 2012, President/CEO Pete Pritts has almost entirely replaced his senior and middle management team, revamped the balance sheet, and in October will implement a new fee structure.
The changes will net the Irondale, Ala.-based corporate more than $4.4 million in annual operating expense reductions.
“We were structured for a different economy and different regulatory environment,” Pritts said in an interview. “Today’s income opportunities are very different.”
Despite these changes, the corporate has only lost 30 members, leaving it with 550. Pritts said that’s likely because of one thing that didn’t change: Corporate America still does not require member credit unions to contribute capital in order to access services.
“We haven’t seen much of a drain on deposits,” he said. “Nobody wants (fees), but we’re getting lots of praise for leaving the capital requirement in place, and the credit for that goes to our board.”
Member credit unions that have not subscribed to Perpetual Contributed Capital will pay a line-of-credit underwriting fee of five basis points and must maintain a minimum credit line of two-and-a-half times their debit settlement amount. Members with PCC will not be assessed the underwriting fee.
“We’re not pretending it costs that much to underwrite the credit line, but we are changing the business model,” Pritts said. “It provides flexibility for the member credit union and flexibility for us. If they want a larger credit line they can have it. And, if a member wants to use select services that don’t require settlement, they can still remain a member in good standing with voting rights.”
PCC accounts will continue to pay 1%, which Pritts said is competitive. Additional capital accounts will pay 0.5% or lower rates.
Corporate America will also raise dividends on its Super 30 share account to 20 basis points the week of July 29, and Pritts said he plans to simplify the deposit account menu pending board approval.
Ten of the corporate's 55 employees were dismissed: three senior managers, five middle managers, and two information technology staffers, the corporate said. The IT staff positions were refilled, but instead of hiring new management, Pritts said, he “just leveraged the talents we had internally.” No member-facing employees were laid off, he said.
The reduction in staff will save the corporate $1.55 million annually; severance packages were offered to those who were let go.
Corporate America also achieved operating expense savings by modifying a Federal Home Loan Bank credit line and redeploying some $750 million in cash that was only earning 25 basis points, he said. The $750 million is now earning 75 basis points.
Those savings offset lower yields on Corporate America’s CMO portfolio, which has suffered from reduced yields due to the low interest rate environment and prepayments through government programs like HARP. At one point, the CMOs were earning a negative yield, but Pritts said it’s been increased to 40 basis points.
In addition to reducing operating expenses and increasing income, Pritts said he also plans to upgrade operations to automate check processing systems and will consolidate billing to members.
Pritts said despite turning a slight profit in June, he doesn’t think he can recover the corporate’s $1.8 million year-to-date net loss by year-end. However, he does predict turning a profit in 2014.