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PORTLAND, Me. – CU Financial Services, a credit union consulting firm specializing in charter conversions and business lending, has hired Lee Bettis, a former president of an Albany, Ga. CU which converted to a mutual bank two and a half years ago, as a senior strategic advisor. “With his experience as a credit union president, Lee is an individual who has been there and done that in having gone through the process of converting his credit union to a thrift and later reorganizing it into a holding company,” declared Alan Theriault, president of CU Financial, a firm active in aiding CU-to-mutual switches. The 62-year-old Bettis, who engineered the 2001 conversion of the old AGE CU into a mutual, the $334 million HeritageBank of the South, retired last June as president of the bank’s parent holding company, Heritage Financial Group for what he said are personal reasons relating to the bank’s corporate goals. Critics of the conversion in Albany accuse Bettis of unfairly creating member misunderstanding over the switch to a mutual, but the former HeritageBank executive maintains the conversion is a success story underscored by rapid asset growth over the two and a half years period. The critics, including managers of several southern Georgia CUs, maintain new retail business has come their way since the conversion admitting, however, that Heritage has grown rapidly in commercial business and real estate lending. The bank and Bettis have vehemently insisted he quit the Heritage Bank to retire to Florida though the critics maintain he left “suddenly” last June. Bettis and others with Heritage argue the Albany conversion represents a success story that can be copied by other CUs across the country. Bettis said by working with CU Financial he can assist other CUs in making a similar change. – [email protected]

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