WASHINGTON – Ever since leaving the NCUA Board in 2001, Geoff Bacino says he has been inundated with job offers, endorsement deals, and consulting work, but nothing seemed to fit until now. Bacino is joining Denver-based CENTRIX Financial as Executive Vice President for Legislative Affairs. “I have had a lot of offers, this one just looked to be a good fit. I wanted to protect my reputation personally and as a former NCUA Board member. I think as a former board member you have a responsibility to do that,” he said. Bacino, admittedly, likes politics and is known as a political player in the industry. His name has been rumored as a possibility for the top spot at NASCUS, the Colorado League and even a return to the NCUA Board. Bacino said the Centrix job will allow him to practice politics, but also follow through on work he started during his brief stint on the NCUA Board. “I will be working with state and federal regulators, and sometimes Congress. I’m going to be able to use politics here, leveraging the contacts and the folks I know in Washington and the states. But I will be working to try and bridge the disconnect out there between understanding subprime lending and predatory lending. The big call now is to get rid of predatory lending, which is right, but subprime lending serves a need,” said Bacino. Bacino will be delving into subprime lending because that is CENTRIX’s business. The company has been tremendously successful in credit union land in getting credit unions to embrace more B, C and D paper applicants for auto loans. Founded in 1990, it has over 200 credit union clients. Its core product is its Portfolio Management Program, designed specifically for CUs to help them serve the auto lending needs of members in the subprime category. “His work in Washington is twofold: He will serve as an advocate for the consumers who need our services, and will act promoter and facilitator for the goals and missions of our partner leagues and credit unions,” said Robert Sutton, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CENTRIX. Borrowing a line from NCUA Chairman Dennis Dollar’s playbook, Bacino believes credit unions have to be “risk sensitive, not risk averse.” “Part of the trade-off for these large community charters credit unions are being approved for is you’re going to have to serve everyone in those communities. Credit unions talk a good game, but they have to be able to follow through, and serving members not as fortunate is part of it,” said Bacino. Forget the implied responsibility, Bacino believes there is a strong business need for CUs to serve the B, C and D paper market. “Those are the markets that are growing, not the A paper. It’s the only part of the market that has grown in the last 10 years. People get divorced, lose their jobs – there are legitimate reasons for people to need subprime lenders,” said Bacino. Of course subprime lending is riskier. Charge-offs for lower quality credit applicants are higher than top credit applicants, but with expertise credit unions can make it a profit center. “It is risky by its nature, so you need the specialization, just like you do for ALM, member business lending and if you want to go way back, how you needed it for share drafts. It’s no different here,” he said. Bacino, 41, will be able to stay in Washington, D.C. with this job. That was an attraction because he did not want to uproot his family. Bacino has a wife, Nathalie, and four kids (three girls and one boy). He will give up his D.C.-based credit union consulting firm, Bacino & Associates, which he has run for 15 years. This isn’t Bacino’s first job since leaving the NCUA Board. He also worked for credit union consultant Counter Intelligence Associates, San Juan Capistrano, Calif., for about a year. He did strategic planning, charter consulting and other high-level consulting work with CIA. His credit union career began at Callahan & Associates, where he was the first employee of the now well-known credit union statistical/consulting firm. He later ran the National Share Insurance Corporation, a trade association for private insurance organizations and the credit unions they insured. From there he moved on to CUNA as a lobbyist and then started Bacino & Associates. Bacino also co-founded the National Association of State Chartered Credit Unions, which eventually merged with NASCUS. “I will always have a soft spot in my heart for state-chartered credit unions and NASCUS,” said Bacino. -pgentile@cutimes.com