TUKWILA, Wash. – With a year of legwork behind it, BECU Trust Co. is poised to turn its marketing plans up a notch in an effort to woo new clients, particularly more of the 300,000 members from $4 billion Boeing Employees’ Credit Union. Launched last April by Boeing Financial Services, the credit union’s wholly-owned subsidiary, BECU Trust currently has 20 relationships and nearly $15 million in assets under management, said Bonnie Pladson, president of BECU Trust. The average account is roughly $540,000. “This has been a very busy, very exciting and very hectic year,” Pladson said. “We’re still trying to get the word out (but) we’re right on track.” Of the firm’s clients, nine initially did not belong to the credit union, Pladson said. Four have since become members. Still, while the firm is meeting its one-year projections, “securing new business, especially from credit union members has been the biggest challenge – some still believe you have to be very wealthy or they will lose control if they turn their affairs over to us.” To address those myths, the trust company started a series of quarterly seminars last fall tackling a number of topics involving estate management. Pladson says one “popular” seminar – “Plan Ahead Before You’re Dead” – drew more than 100 attendees, as others had to be turned away at the door. For two hours, the audience, consisting of mostly retirees, got a crash course in estate planning, living trusts, probates and other related issues. “Our biggest complaint was we covered so much in a short amount of time and it was difficult to talk to everyone’s specific case,” Pladson said. “At that point, we asked them to come in and talk with us.” BECU Trust held four seminars last year including another large draw – “Your IRA: A Pot of Gold,” in which a local estate planning attorney was invited to discuss how one’s retirement plan including rolling the advantages of IRA rollovers could benefit a client’s personal situation. Pladson said in addition to holding four seminars each quarter, the trust company also plans to do more internal sessions at Boeing Company’s offices. One of the first on-site sessions is scheduled for April when BECU Trust will hold a seminar on trust services 101 – what are they and what can they do for potential clients. Another component of the trust company’s marketing blitz will involve deployment to the credit union’s 30 express centers. “We’ve seen investment representatives and retirement specialists (from the credit union and CUSO) give presentations to Boeing employees and we want to be a part of that circuit too,” Pladson said. Making that connection is crucial especially with credit union members because breaking down barriers of misinformation involving trust services is still an ongoing battle, Pladson pointed out. “There is still that stigma that you have to be very wealthy to use trust services,” she said. “Or, some believe that if they turn their affairs over to a trust company, they will lose control. We’ve been bumping up against this for the past year.” Pladson said some potential clients are also confused about how the fee process works. One advantage BECU Trust has over other competitors is “our fees are straightforward and upfront” compared to some advisors who don’t show the fees right away, she added. “Don’t believe that meetings with a representative is free,” she tells potential clients of the competitors. “Lots of people (tell us) they don’t know what fees are being paid along the way” with other firms. BECU Trust will also step up its courting of smaller law firms. Pladson said the trust company has a good relationship with several attorneys here but they are still generally considered an “unknown commodity.” Each of the firm’s trust representatives will be responsible for a certain number of law firms but the goal is “not to be all over the place.” “So far, we’ve established relationships with several firms including a couple of trial attorneys who specialize in settlements involving personal injuries,” Pladson said. While BECU Trust is still targeting those with a minimum of $350,000 in investable assets, Pladson said credit union members that don’t meet that threshold won’t be turned away. Indeed, the firm’s smallest account is $175,000. The firm’s services are available to members outside of Washington but they can’t advertise in other states given its state-chartered status. Still, a number of clients live as far away as Florida and recent inquiries have come from Arizona and Nevada among other states, Pladson said. Having gone through both an internal and a state audit within weeks of each other in March – “we came out well” – Pladson said the goal for 2004 is securing new business especially from credit union members. “It’s been a good first year,” she said. “With any start-up, getting the word out is one of the biggest challenges but we’re encouraged.” [email protected]

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to CUTimes.com, part of your ALM digital membership.

Your access to unlimited CUTimes.com content isn’t changing.
Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Critical CUTimes.com information including comprehensive product and service provider listings via the Marketplace Directory, CU Careers, resources from industry leaders, webcasts, and breaking news, analysis and more with our informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and CU Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including Law.com and GlobeSt.com.

Already have an account?


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.


Credit Union Times

Join Credit Union Times

Don’t miss crucial strategic and tactical information necessary to run your institution and better serve your members. Join Credit Union Times now!

  • Free unlimited access to Credit Union Times' trusted and independent team of experts for extensive industry news, conference coverage, people features, statistical analysis, and regulation and technology updates.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and Credit Union Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including TreasuryandRisk.com and Law.com.

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join Credit Union Times

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.