Monterey Credit Union Plans Bank Conversion
Citing the need to deliver new business lending products and services to survive, the $209 million Monterey Credit Union in California plans to change its charter to a mutual savings bank. The conversion must gain approval from the credit union’s 19,543 members as well as state and federal regulators.
“We believe that regulations with respect to the amount of commercial (lending) we could make as a credit union are capped (at 10% of total loans), and we don’t feel we could cost effectively operate within that regulatory scheme,” Chairman David C. Laredo said in an interview with CU Times Monday. “We believe that to embark upon a business lending plan, we could at best break even.”
Ballots and information about the charter change were mailed to all members of record on May 31. The deadline to submit ballots is Friday at 5:30 p.m. The ballots are being processed and tallied by Chicago-based McGladrey LLP.
The idea to convert to a mutual savings bank originated from the board’s planning committee about two years ago.
However, the process to apply for a charter change began more than a year ago when the credit union began discussions with the California Department of Business Oversight. The credit union has filed its application with the FDIC.
“We are a community of small businesses. There are a lot of professionals. There are a lot of family run businesses,” Laredo explained. “We serve many of these businessmen through their personal accounts, but we cannot provide them with a full range of business services they want or need. So what we are finding as the financial industry becomes more competitive, is that these individuals who are already banking with us are getting pressure from their business lenders to move their personal banking. It’s a question of survival.”
The central California cooperative reported $116,864,462 in total loans as of March 31, but none of them were classified as business loans, according to financial reports posted on the American Share Insurance website. Monterey CU is not federally insured.
Its net worth has held steady at 13% over the last four years and the credit union has been profitable, reporting returns of assets of 1.19%, 1.12% and 0.83% over the past three years. However, as of March 31, net income dropped to 0.49% of assets.
No special member meeting is scheduled to discuss the charter conversion proposal, Laredo said.
Though Laredo said he didn’t know how long it would take McGladery LLP to process the votes, he added he expected to know a final tally by July 28 or 29, when it will be announced to members and employees.
Following an August meeting of the board of directors to certify the final vote count, it would then be reviewed by California regulators for approval. The FDIC also is expected to decide on the credit union charter change application following the member vote, Laredo said.
Chartered in 1968 as Monterey Peninsula Navy FCU, the credit union changed its name to Monterey FCU in 1974 after a merger. It merged again in 1976 and 1981 with other credit unions.
In 1999, the credit union switched to a state charter because the NCUA would not allow any overlap of its field of membership with another federally chartered credit union, according to Laredo.
Employing more than 70 people and operating seven branches, Monterey CU serves Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, San Luis Obispo and Santa Clara counties.
If the charter conversion is approved by members and regulators, the board is expected to tentatively change the institution’s name to Community Savings Bank of Monterey, Laredo said.
Monterey’s bank charter conversion proposal is the first one so far this year.