PALO ALTO, Calif. – Most credit unions would consider joining the Billionaires Club a sign of maturity. But President/CEO Steve Lumm quips that Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union will spend the coming year "figuring out what we want to be when we grow up." Until January 1 this year, AAFCU employees, like those at only a handful of other credit unions, were actually carried on the payroll and benefits package of primary sponsor Hewlett-Packard. Now Lumm and the credit union's board must review AAFCU's future and see what they want it to look like a few years down the road. As part of the shift, Hewlett-Packard gave the credit union six months notice to relocate. The timing proved fortunate. When AAFCU moved its back office operations off HP property, the credit union was able to catch the market just right in terms of lease rates. Lumm says reaching the billion dollar asset ranks wasn't an earthshaking milestone, simply another step in AAFCU's growth. At the same time, he figures size is an advantage. "Certainly when it comes to having resources to do certain things and to negotiate contracts with providers that are volume-related, the higher volume helps from the cost view," Lumm says. "While we have had some mergers, we have basically generated our growth through new products and services. I don't see growth as an issue. Certainly if you track the number of credit unions that have a billion dollars in assets, I believe there are something like 62 now. I don't think of $1 billion as anything magical, just another step on the growth curve. Some credit unions will get there quicker than others based on the type of members they have and what products and services they offer," says Lumm. When Lumm became manager of what was then HP FCU in 1994, assets were about $480 million. From 1998 to 2000 the credit union merged with three other HP credit unions in other areas of the country. After Agilent spun off from HP, both Hewlett Packard and Agilent concluded they wanted one nationwide credit union to serve their employees. The credit union itself decided it needed a name that reflected the entire membership. The credit union had already dubbed its CUSO Addison Avenue Financial Partners. As most Silicon Valley residents know, Addison Avenue comes from the legendary garage on Addison Ave. in Palo Alto where Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard launched the startup business known today as HP. Addison Avenue Financial Partners offers a fully-integrated brokerage model with both self-directed and full-service channels. Standardized nationwide delivery is available through 13 Investment Access Centers. Some people have questioned the continuing need for CUSOs, pointing to the growing powers granted to credit unions themselves. "For me, the issue is not the legal structure," Lumm says. "Our approach has been one of umbrella branding or a holding company concept. We have a credit union, we have financial partners, and we'll have that regardless of the legal form or structure it takes. "We very much support an integrated product offering to our members. That's not just credit union products or financial services products, but a combination of the two." Looking at the primary sponsors, it's no surprise AAFCU members are tech-savvy. Lumm says they're very professional, and that sets high expectations for the standards of performance members expect from their credit union. One example of what this means to the credit union is the AAFCU on-line banking system. Even though it hasn't been heavily promoted, almost half of all members use it. It's a natural for them. AAFCU has an upscale membership in general, Lumm notes. As HP has outsourced manufacturing, the percentage of the credit union's members directly involved in production has shrunk. Spinoffs and downsizing have also translated into a slight aging of the membership. Click on the AAFU Web site and you'll find information on transfers and relocation. "We support our sponsors relocation programs," Lumm says. "We work with the relocation company and do mortgage loans and transition loans to facilitate that process. It's enough of a niche that we have found excellent acceptance. "We feel very good about that fact we're able to help. Since we are nationwide, when an employee transfers from site to site they are still able to access our services. I think that's a big advantage, and an advantage HP wanted in their credit union. We also facilitate the transfer of employees from overseas and arrange for credit cards, set up checking accounts, that kind of thing." That doesn't mean the slump hasn't had a major impact. "We've lived through, and will continue to live through with our sponsors, downsizing and business realignments. What we've done is kept in our field of membership the spinoffs HP and Agilent have done. For example, Philips Medical bought the Health Care Solutions Group from Agilent. So now we have Philips Medical in our field of membership." Lumm knows firsthand the realities of life at HP. He has a B.S. in accounting and an MBA, both from Indiana University in Bloomington. He joined HP in 1969 and held positions in financing, controllership and marketing. He also learned the credit union business even before becoming the credit union manager in 1994. He served on the board for six years, holding the post of chairman for four years. He also sat on the supervisory committee for seven years and chaired the committee for three years. If Lumm were in the military, he'd probably be considered someone who runs a tight ship. He's very much into strategic planning, sets expectations, and simply likes to get things done. Lack of progress bothers him. "I'm proud of the group I've put together and the things we are able to get done," he says. "I think that is reflected in our 98% member satisfaction rating." He organizes carefully, and admits he tends to keep a calendar that is often overly full. He and his wife, Sue, have three grown children, and that calendar is likely to include a golf game with one of his sons. Weekends are also likely to be spent with his wife simply running errands, going to a movie or dining out. You might also find him swimming at the YMCA three or four times a week. [email protected]

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