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LANSING, Mich. – Ripe on the heels of recent charter expansion, State Employees Credit Union is now offering trust services to its members. The $730 million credit union has partnered with MEMBERS Trust Co., the nation’s first credit union-owned, nationally chartered trust firm to provide trust and estate planning services. “Our members asked for trust services and we’re happy to make it available to them so they can realize the comfort and safety of knowing their trust and estate planning needs are met,” said Stephan Winninger, SECU president/CEO. In April, SECU received approval from the state regulator to extend membership to anyone who lives, works, attends school, or worships in a 28-county area across mid-Michigan. That’s a potential member base of 5.7 million. It currently serves more than 88,000. The decision to offer trust services was part foresight and hindsight, Winninger said. The complex nature of launching such a program coupled with it typically not being a very profitable venture for the first few years was the impetus for aligning with MEMBERS Trust as opposed to any other firms. Before the alliance, services were outsourced. “To take the cost and spread them out over (several) credit unions and have it be totally viable, it made sense,” Winninger said. “We had talked to other firms, but this one was the one that grew legs and took off.” Members had been asking for trust services from time to time, but prior to converting to a community charter there were two areas that SECU had not yet delivered on: trust services and business lending and deposit services. “We recognized that if we wanted to be the primary financial institution for our members, we needed to offer both of those,” Winninger said. SECU has partnered with four other Michigan credit unions to offer business loans through its jointly-owned CUSO, the Michigan Business Connection. After completing extensive training in trusts and estate planning, Russ Steiner, the SECU’s financial advisor through MEMBERS Financial Services, has been given the new title of trust liaison officer. The next step will be to market trust services more aggressively as part of a bigger branding campaign for the credit union, Winninger said. That campaign could include a name change by the end of the year, he added. MEMBERS Trust’s reach has extended to more than 30 credit unions through representative offices and agency offices. Launched in 2003 by $4.8 billion Suncoast Schools FCU and CUNA Mutual Insurance Society, it now has nearly 30 credit union owners and more than $85 million in assets under management. Unlike the $1 million asset minimum some banks typically require for trust services, SECU members need only $50,000. “It’s an area of the market that is not being served,” Winninger said. “Credit unions were, after all, set up to serve those who couldn’t get financial services from other institutions.” -

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