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<p>HELENA, Mont. – Myrt White had no idea a part-time job would blossom into a 30-plus year credit union industry career. Treasure State Corporate is losing a true treasure in White who announced recently that she would be retiring in January of 2003. While the announcement may seem a little too soon given her departure date, White said the board wants to get started right away on finding a replacement. “We just went through a long process of replacing the league president here in Montana. Everyone’s a little gun shy about finding a replacement,” said White. That league president who was replaced was Herb Walberg, someone White credits for bringing her on-board at Treasure State. “Herb Walberg called me back in 1986 and said `I’d like you to come work for us,’ ” said White. It was “ us” back then because the leagues were still joined with the corporates. White came in as a vp of financial services and COO for the league, which required working on the corporate’s business. She was named CEO of Treasure State Corporate in 1996. But White’s entry to CUs is a more interesting story. She worked for Household Financial Corporation for seven years when her boss left to manage a small hospital credit union in Billings. “One day he called me and asked if I wanted a really good part-time job at the credit union. He said it would never be anything more than a part-time job,” said White. The name of the credit union was St. V’s FCU. It was eventually merged with another Billings-based CU. It was having problems with delinquencies and White aimed to use her consumer credit counseling background from Household Finance to try and attack the CU’s delinquency problem. That part-time job turned into a 13-year career managing the small CU, where White proudly says she helped lower the delinquency rate. White was raising her family while working part-time at the credit union. “It was just so much fun. What happened to me I’ve seen happen to so many in this industry. They get started with credit unions, and it’s hard for them to do other things,” she said. When White joined Treasure State it had about $56 million in assets. Today it has $235 million and 72 members. The corporate is in the same building as the Montana League in Helena. It leases the space from the league service corporation. Treasure State is only one of three corporates that is state-chartered and non-federally insured. “Under state law since we are a wholesale organization, we are allowed to choose to be uninsured,” she said. The other two corporates with this unique characteristic are Wisconsin Corporate Central CU and Missouri Corporate. However, unlike natural-person CUs, which if they are privately-insured and state-chartered do not fall under NCUA regs, corporates must comply with NCUA’s corporate regs because they are serving natural-person CUs. White thinks she is leaving a corporate and a corporate network that is in great shape, but she can’t hide her uneasiness about the blossoming FOMs, marketing across state lines, and megamergers among corporates. “A FOM is no longer a FOM in the corporate world. There’s no way to stop marketing across state lines. I think overall there may be less sharing among corporates than there used to be because of the FOMs and marketing,” she said. Treasure State does have two Idaho member CUs that utilize the league’s share draft processing CUSO, Unipro Systems, which Treasure State serves. Corporate mergers is another area White isn’t crazy about. “It’s sad to see a small corporate go away, but the benefit of the bigger corporate to those credit unions is good. If you could take all the emotion out of it, and make a pure business decision it sometimes makes sense,” she said. But White stressed that people shouldn’t make the mistake that a small corporate doesn’t offer a full suite of products like bigger corporates. She also mentioned some stories of late where too big a deal is being made of extra yield that bigger corporates can offer. “There is more to a corporate than another .5 basis points. Small corporates can build better relationships lots of times.” NCUA is doing a much better job dealing with corporates, said White. She is concerned however about the 2% RUDE (Reserves and Undivided Earnings) requirement in the proposed revision to Part 704, the corporate CU reg. “It’s bad because when you grow at a terrific rate you can’t add to RUDE at the same percentage as you’re growing and remain at all competitive with your rates. It’s fine if there’s a lot of loan demand. When liquidity is pouring in you can quickly be out of compliance.” White grew up on a Montana cattle ranch and spent her whole life in the state. “I wouldn’t want to live any place else.” She has five kids and four grand kids, and says she is fortunate to have all of her grand kids living in nearby Billings. White and her husband Bob are approaching their tenth wedding anniversary, and will be celebrating with a seven-day Caribbean cruise. “I’m going to be a full-time wife. We’re going to do some traveling. We have a camper that’s had minimal use. I’m not a big hobby person, but I’m going to be looking for new things to do. I just need to be at home more. I’ve worked for almost 40 years.” [email protected]</p>

 

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