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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – While $927 million Truliant Federal Credit Union is among the latest to align with MEMBERS Trust Co., it was actually at the drawing table more than three years ago when the notion of launching the industry’s first CU-owned, nationally-chartered trust firm was just an idea. Truliant, through its subsidiary Truliances, will offer its more than 170,000 members trust services through MEMBERS Trust, said Steve Joiner, president of Truliances. Gary Ryther, financial advisor, vice president of financial services, will serve as the trust liaison officer. “This completes that end of the spectrum where we didn’t offer trust services,” Joiner said. “We realize that this is not a profit-making business. It’s about building relationships and not seeing members walk out the door without getting their needs met.” Truliances did a soft launch in December and so far, roughly half a dozen trust relationships have been established. In addition to staff training, a marketing campaign is scheduled to roll out over the next few months that will include educational seminars. Joiner said conducive to the credit union’s mission, trust services will be available to members regardless of the amount of assets they have. “We won’t turn anyone away,” Joiner said. “As they grow financially, we can be there for them.” As is the nature of the trust services business, which industry experts say can take up to 18 months to build a single relationship, Joiner said a profit is not expected until 2006 with assets under management projected at $20 million by 2008. Truliances currently serves 1,000 members and manages $32 million in assets. Truliant FCU’s alliance with MEMBERS Trust goes back to 2001 when MEMBERS Development Corp., a partnership between credit unions and CUNA Mutual, endorsed a strategy that would create a national credit union-owned trust cooperative. John Henry, CUNA Mutual senior vice president and CEO of MEMBERS Development and Tom Dorety, president/CEO of Suncoast Schools FCU, assembled a team of seasoned trust professionals to turn that strategy into reality. “We’ve been with the concept since day one,” Joiner said. “We looked at some (other) solutions, and quite frankly, at the time, there wasn’t a lot on the horizon. We certainly liked (MEMBERS) solution.” Since launching in November 2003, MEMBERS Trust has partnered with credit unions to open six agency offices and 14 representatives offices and more than a dozen are scheduled to open soon. Credit unions can chose the agency office, which, establishes a trust presence in a particular state and requires a trust officer to be physically located in a credit union or the representative office, which is an extension of the credit union’s financial services program and does not require hiring a trust officer but utilizes the services trained representatives to consult and make recommendations for trust services. While Truliant FCU chose the representative office option in part, because there “wasn’t sufficient demand to warrant the agency model,” they are open to considering the agency office down the road. Meanwhile, the credit union’s April/May newsletter will officially introduce trust services to members and a list of topics for quarterly educational seminars is being generated, Joiner said. One crucial component will be a May training session for staff including Truliant FCU’s 85-person call center, to make referrals, he added. The credit union’s year-old business services program appears to be an ideal fit for the new trust services division, Joiner said. “Members own their own businesses and they, too may need assistance with (matters) such as who will inherit when should someone die,” Joiner said. Be it the single mother who is the sole supporter or a blended family with stepchildren, educating members about the notion that one doesn’t have to be super wealthy to use trust services will be an ongoing thrust, Joiner said. Thirty percent of Truliant FCU’s membership works in either the manufacturing or textile industry here and 40% of these members have average annual incomes of under $35,000. “We routinely talk to people with $1,000 in investable assets, some are underinsured,” Joiner said. “Our role is to help (members) identify ways to assure that there is a plan in place (for their estate) should something happen to them.” [email protected]

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