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WILLIAMSBURG, Va.-From the beginning, the National Association of Community Credit Unions has been about focusing on the needs of its members. Now, at the time of the organization’s 5th Annual Conference, NACCU leaders are taking stock of the past and future of the association. While community credit unions certainly belong to the credit union industry, their specific issues were not being addressed, NACCU Chair Grace Mayo, CEO of Telesis Credit Union, said. “They felt that as community credit unions, it was a special niche in the community marketplace and a lot of our leagues and national conferences didn’t really have the sessions or the breakouts that fulfilled their needs to get better strength as community credit unions.” Many credit unions have evolved knowing what was expected of them from a single sponsor, but the landscape changes dramatically when you’re serving an entire community because of the more diverse field of membership. “That’s changed because all the sudden our community is calling out `we love credit unions but we want them to grow with us,’ ” Mayo explained. Credit unions converting to community charters need to learn better how to use their resources. Just recently NACCU hired its first employee, Executive Director Marc Selvitelli. While interviewing with the search committee made up of NACCU members, he asked them what got them involved with NACCU. He expected a `wrong place, wrong time’ answer, but what he got was quite different. “ There was a definitive passion that was there. There was a reason for being and as an association person.to hear an answer like that was very refreshing,” Selvitelli said. Mayo had a similar comment for why she was interested in leading the group. “Maybe it’s because of the passion that I saw in this group and the value,” she said. Looking ahead, that `passion’ both leaders mentioned has to push the organization to where it is going. Selvitelli said one of his main goals for the group is growth. “There are a lot of community credit unions that could be serviced by this organization and we’d like to help capture them and bring it into one organization and make that organization very strong,” he said. He also hopes to make the organization stronger by pooling resources, both tangible and not, from the community. Finally, he hopes the growth and strength will allow NACCU to have a strong advocacy presence that will be recognized. To address the most important issue coming down the pike, NACCU will need that presence and strength. Mayo said that one of the top issues community credit unions want addressed is additional capital. “We really believe as an association that that is something that our industry needs to be educated on. We need to have more dialogue and really understand that it’s something we need to study now and not regret not doing five years from now,” she said. As community credit unions enter their new FOMs, there is a normal increase in revenue, but the credit unions can miss opportunities to deploy other needed services because they are concerned about their capital levels. She added that NACCU also supports the NCUA chairman’s risk-based Prompt Corrective Action proposal. NACCU is very pleased with NCUA’s recent member business lending regulation amendments, but more work needs to be done in that area. The association also supports regulatory relief efforts. Issues of growing concern also include the Unrelated Business Income Tax and Financial Accounting Standards Board requirements. Of course, FOMs are an ongoing issue for community credit unions, she said. Though cautious of “overselling” the organization’s hopes for the future, Mayo said the organization will aid credit unions with their conversion applications and really help community credit unions focus on where their marketing dollars are going, getting more involved in community charities, how to take in the appropriate membership, and recognizing the increased risk that comes with serving a community. Other than its focus on community credit unions, NACCU’s protection of four seats on its board for volunteers is also unique. John Sackett, chairman of Royal Credit Union in Eau Claire, Wis., advocated that directors could really add a different perspective to the organization. “As a board member, I get more involved with other board members of credit unions who are looking to either become community based or have made that plunge and have already gone that route. It’s fairly clear to me that many of them-way too many in my opinion-made the decision along with other board members to do that conversion but really didn’t understand what that involved.” He said board members must realize that serving a community is a totally different environment that comes with different responsibilities and costs. Marcus Schaefer, president and CEO of Truliant Federal Credit Union in Winston-Salem, N.C. agreed. “It’s an important, I think, point of differentiation between NACCU and some other groups where we really put a lot of value on that. I think it’s responsible for a lot of our success and our strength. We found a way to pull that together and strengthen the organization through that. I think often volunteers are not given credit for what they can bring to the table.” But how much success has NACCU had? While there are approximately 900 community charters, only 89 have opted to join NACCU in the five years it has been up and running. “We’re just getting started. That’s what this is about,” Mayo said. She added that NACCU has no plans to change its relationship with CUNA, with whom it has a management agreement. “I think they recognize why NACCU is growing at such a pace,” she said. “There is a niche here that has not really been addressed by the rest of our system networks.” According to Mayo, NACCU’s membership grew by 30% this year. Financially, the group has been able to stand on its own feet for several years, she said. Mayo commented, “It is a stand alone entity, but we also want to be part of the system.” Other board members agreed. Point Mugu Federal Credit Union (Oxnard, Calif.) President Ron McDaniel stressed that, despite the management agreement with CUNA, the group and its board is independent. He explained that NACCU wants to maintain a “unity of credit unions” but “definitely isn’t going to allow any of those other organizations to dictate what it can do or the direction it’s going.” Schaefer pointed out that the group could “easily” survive without CUNA, but the arrangement just helps the fledgling group move along faster; it is not a “dependency.” Mayo offered the 180 conference attendees-a 33% increase from last year-as evidence of the group’s growth. One hundred and twenty-two credit unions were represented. Mayo added that NACCU would be holding next year’s conference at the new Marriott in Phoenix to accommodate a lot more attendees. She explained that the group stretched the capacity of the Williamsburg Inn this year. NACCU Board members wish an organization like this existed at the time of their conversions and feel others will see the value of the group. McDaniel said when he was putting his credit unions application together they borrowed from various credit unions, like Royal, who had already been through the experience. He said, it “helped us understand what we were truly getting into: what the change in that field of membership was all about, what community involvement was all about.things that weren’t really on our radar screen or in our vocabulary.” Centralizing that knowledge and experience is a positive move. McDaniel pointed out that he had dinner with a fellow community credit union CEO during the conference and walked away with a few ideas to bring back to Point Mugu. [email protected]

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