BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – "Corporate America CU." No, that's not the new name for U.S. Central or for one of the larger corporates with a national presence – it's the new name for Alabama Corporate CU. So just why has this corporate, which for most of its existence has only served CUs in Alabama, branching out with such a national-sounding name? There certainly was no long, costly name search process, says Corporate America CU Thomas Bonds. "I got to thinking that the phrase `corporate America' is used so often in the lexicon these days. I think people would be reminded of us and our new name when in non-credit union conversations about `corporate America' or watching CNN cover `corporate America,' " said Bonds. Bonds joked that this play on words really did have a factor in choosing that name, but the name also indicates the corporate's desire to branch out into other states. Until very recently the $942 million corporate served CUs in Alabama only. It now also has member CUs in Mississippi. " We have a national field-of-membership and we're going to go anywhere there's a need. If there's a state or area of a state not being served by their corporate credit union, we may have something for them," said Bonds. Bonds said one of the reasons Corporate America has moved into Mississippi is because a lot of the CUs in that state do their item processing with Federal Reserve banks. The CU now has seven item processing client CUs in Mississippi. "There's no reason a corporate shouldn't be doing a credit union's item processing," he said. Corporate America CU has also just hired a new vice president of marketing who will work on spreading the word beyond Alabama about the corporate's products and services. "What I hope to do is get our message out. We do things a little bit differently here in Birmingham," said Bonds. The differences include paying bonus dividends every quarter to its CD holders. The corporate has a very active investment portfolio that may be a little bit too aggressive for some corporates, but it's safe, says Bonds. "We manage our portfolio very aggressively. We meet our NEV marks, but we're not afraid to be very aggressive," said Bonds. That includes buying asset-backed securities, cutting them up into smaller pieces and passing them on to its member CUs. "We can give our members access to the asset-backed security market," said Bonds. Bonds knows a thing or two about safety and soundness. He was an examiner with NCUA for 10 years, including a position examining corporate CUs. "I've seen a lot of credit unions make egregious errors in their portfolios because someone sold them something that was a little bit shady," said Bonds. Looking at the corporate network, Bonds believes that there may be a sharp decline in the number of corporates over the next decade. "I think it's natural that there's going to be consolidation in the industry. It makes no sense for there to be 30 different corporates in the country unless they have specific areas they specialize in. What I envision happening is over a period of 10 to 20 years, there will be a dozen or so less corporates," said Bonds. Bonds said he could see a corporate network consisting of six large regional corporates. [email protected]

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