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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Face it corporates, with credit unions able to use the services of just about any of the nation’s 29 corporates, for a corporate image is everything First Carolina Corporate recently released its new branding effort that it hopes will polish its image as a very cooperative, yet independent corporate. “Probably about two years ago we changed our focus in terms of product development. Our new logo represents the fact that we look at strategic partnership as kind of our vision. But as we started looking at credit unions struggling with their bottom lines, we are focusing on products that can help them generate income,” said First Carolina Corporate President/CEO David Brehmer who just passed his 10-year anniversary as head of the $2.3 billion corporate. “We’ve managed to be very low cost, and try to avoid duplication of infrastructure that exists. We provide a wide range of services with partners we trust,” said Brehmer. The corporate’s new logo highlights that partnership with three chain links, one representing credit unions, one for First Carolina and other corporates, and one for U.S. Central. The corporate’s new tagline is “Experience. Stability. Vision.” Brehmer said the average senior manager at First Carolina has 14 years of corporate experience. “We feel we have a very experienced management team. In fact it goes down to mid-management,” he said. The new branding effort comes just in time for the corporate’s 25th anniversary in 2005. As part of helping CUs generate income, First Carolina, in a first for any corporate, partnered with a mortgage company (Homeowners Mortgage out of South Carolina) to help credit unions get into the mortgage game. Homeowners Mortgage happens to be one of the few firms that is a multi-license user of the popular PrimeAlliance online mortgage system which streamlines the mortgage process using Fannie Mae’s Desktop Underwriter. “We’re approaching 30 credit unions on that program. Our goal there was that every credit union needs to be a player in the mortgage market, ideally a competitive one,” said Brehmer. The alliance can literally help a CU with no mortgage program get in the game very quickly. “We’ve had credit unions, who in 90 days generated a million dollars in loans,” said Brehmer. The CU acts mostly as the marketing arm. In most cases Homeowners Mortgage does all the underwriting and sells the mortgages in the secondary market. In other cases, it’s just a way to give CUs access to the PrimeAlliance system. Either way, it helps CUs generate income, said Brehmer. This partnership has gone so well First Carolina and Homeowners Mortgage actually joined forces to start First Carolina Real Estate Services, LLC, which helps guide members through the home buying process. Reps can act as the in-between for members and real estate agents and become a member advocate. “It’s more or less a referral program. The great thing is the consumer gets a rebate at the end of the transaction,” said Brehmer. It’s good for CUs too, because the LLC directs the member to the credit union for financing. It currently has two employees, each with over 20 years of real estate experience. First Carolina is also the fifth corporate to become part of the popular CU Business Group corporate credit union CUSO. The CUSO was formed by Northwest Corporate a few years ago and includes FirstCorp, Empire Corporate, and WesCorp as partners. “An increasing number of credit unions are interested in business services. We want to provide them with something we have a vested interest in,” said Brehmer. The corporate also has partnerships with both U.S. Central and Mid-Atlantic Corporate for bill pay services. Brehmer said the corporate chose to partner with both to give its members a choice. It is also has two registered investment reps as part of U.S. Central’s ISI broker/dealer program. Other partnerships include an ALM product with Southeast Corporate and with EasCorp’s ALM First CUSO. Despite its ALM partnerships with other corporates, it also launched its own Web-based product. “The value we bring is we hired a full-time ALM analyst whose entire job is to work with credit unions to interpret the data. So we have a dedicated expert helping credit unions with that data, as opposed to having a system just to meet regulatory requirements,” said Brehmer. First Carolina isn’t always the one using other corporates’ products. For example, for about a year now VaCorp has been using First Carolina for ACH origination. VaCorp’s members can access the ACH service through VaCorp’s Web site. It is branded under the name iCAPS so First Carolina isn’t really visible, said Brehmer. Brehmer said under his watch he hopes to keep First Carolina as a system player. “We really feel we have an interdependency within the system. We work very close with the leagues, U.S. Central, other corporates and our own credit unions,” said Brehmer. [email protected]

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