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WASHINGTON – In a capital that appears more politically polarized every day, one White House institution seeks to serve its members without regard to their political affiliation or loyalties. The $56 million White House Federal Credit Union has served employees of the present and former Executive Office of the President, or their families, since 1935, sticking with its offering of low cost financial services no matter whether their members have been predominantly Democrats or Republicans. The credit union’s field of membership also includes staff which is detailed to the President as well as some military and General Services Administration employees that are detailed there as well. It currently has approximately 6,500 members. Of course since Washington tends to have a lot of turnover when one Administration leaves and another comes in, the White House FCU is no exception. But CEO Tina Blackwell downplayed the impact the changes in staff bring. “With a change in administrations, when the members leave, they need to check out, so we have to determine if they want to keep their accounts or give us a forwarding address,” Blackwell said. “We believe that once a member, always a member, though, so we are happy to keep these members and allow them to work with us by mail or over the Internet.” As a new administration comes in, Blackwell added, her staff attends briefings at the White House, and works with all the new people to set up accounts. Unlike other credit unions, however, White House FCU does not have a branch actually in the sponsoring organization but instead makes do with an ATM in the White House basement, a concession to the credit union’s unique relationship with the powerhouse of the federal government. Blackwell also preferred not to say which political party is “better for business” for White House FCU, but according to NCUA data, the credit union has been doing alright with the current occupants. According to NCUA, White House has posted a return on assets of above .70 for the last year and, as of March 2004, the credit union’s delinquent loans to total loans and charge offs to average loans have both lagged the credit union’s peers. Part of the credit union’s success has come from its card programs. According to a recent case study commissioned by TNB Card Services, the credit union’s card processor, White House FCU has seen good growth in its card program – more than 5% in 2003 – even though it has not offered a platinum card yet. “Credit cards are very important to our credit union,” Blackwell says. “We put a lot of emphasis on them, and we have been able to work with TNB Card Services and offer very good rates. We haven’t really seen a need for a platinum card, because the rates on our gold card are so good and the credit limits are pretty generous.” White House FCU and TNB Card Services work together on three to five promotions each year, among them prescreened new account offers in the spring and fall, a post-holiday balance transfer, and upgrades to gold cards based on members’ credit scores. In a spring 2003 new account acquisition promotion, White House FCU saw a 2% percent response rate, and other marketing efforts include newsletter promotions, monthly statement inserts, and literature in the branch. The main message is the attractive interest rates, Blackwell maintained. “We harp on the fact that our rates are so good,” Blackwell says, adding that the custom credit card itself is an eye-catching item. “The credit card with our logo is awesome. The picture on it is more of a side angle of the White House. It was drawn by a member many years ago.” According to NCUA, White House FCU had a card portfolio worth $4 million and a card penetration of almost 28% as of March 31. The credit union charges 5.25% on its VISA Gold product. [email protected]

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