MADISON, Wis. and TAMPA, Fla. – Examiners from the Office of Thrift Supervision are in the process of conducting onsite evaluations as the regulator determines the feasibility of a national trust charter application submitted nearly six months ago by CUNA Mutual Group, Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union and other groups. "The process continues as expected," said Sydney Lindner, CUNA Mutual's assistant vp of public relations. "We anticipate comments from the OTS when they conclude their evaluation." In what would be a first for the credit union industry, the national trust operation is poised to potentially serve millions of credit union households that are looking to amass estate management services. CUNA Mutual along with Suncoast Schools, Alaska USA Trust Co. and other stakeholders submitted a charter application including a business model to OTS in early July. Parties involved are not revealing much about the proceedings out of "respect for the (OTS's) process" only stating that onsite evaluations are "customary." Tentatively named MEMBERS Trust Company, the organization would work with credit unions and CUSOs to provide traditional offerings such as estate planning, will preparation and fiduciary services. Suncoast Schools currently has a wholly-owned subsidiary with the name Members Trust Company and as previously reported in the June 19, 2002 issue of Credit Union Times, immediately upon receiving its charter, the new national entity will merge with MEMBERS Trust Company. Suncoast Schools had previously applied for a national charter for its subsidiary but NCUA regulations had prohibited the credit union from operating under federal jurisdiction. NCUA has since changed that provision. Lindner said Suncoast Schools chose to begin discussions with CUNA Mutual last December to form an alliance. Indeed, the distinction of being credit union-owned has much to do with forming alliances to deliver trust services without the risk of losing their members to non-credit union competition, said John Henry, CUNA Mutual senior vice president, member services and president of MEMBERS Development Co., LLC. Henry told Credit Union Times in June that "non-industry partners represent significant credit union risk, and the retention of our most affluent members is at stake." Just as important as keeping up with the competition is seeing trust services as a core credit union responsibility, said Tom Walker, president/COO of Suncoast's Members Trust Co. in the June article. "Assuming the responsibility to help members and their families with special needs is a duty credit unions perform daily in some way," Walker said. "This national trust cooperative, owned solely credit union entities, would make available to credit unions trust powers to meet fiduciary and investment needs, further expanding their opportunity to respond to their member's special needs." Lindner said other examiners are also conducting onsite evaluations but would not provide additional information. [email protected]

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