Hampered by what it said are the NCUA’s restrictive field of membership regulations, the $318 million GCS FCU of Granite City, Ill., said Thursday it has won approval to become a state charter and will convert in 60 days.
The move fulfills a need to be more competitive in metro St. Louis with other larger state credit unions that have managed to branch into many more Illinois counties, said GCS President/CEO Mark Holshouser.
“We have been kind of stuck under a federal charter in expanding into surrounding counties,” Holshouser said.
Under a state charter, GCS can reach beyond St. Clair and Madison counties to eight other surrounding Illinois counties outside St. Louis.
GCS has 39,000 members and seven branches and is now considering new branches and electronic banking products to reach the new market, said Holshouser.
“Our board will be holding a strategic planning session next week to start looking at what we might do,” said Holshouser.
Larger credit unions like the $851 million Scott Credit Union of Collinsville and the $493 1st MidAmerica Credit Union in Bethalto, he said, have been able to expand their geographic footprint and become more competitive with GCS.
GCS members approved the charter switch June 7. Holshouser said he was unfamiliar with any other Illinois credit unions making a conversion but the early leader was the $4.9 billion CEFCU of Peoria, which switched years ago. The “F” in CEFCU was rebranded to “First.”
“Our problem is that under a federal charter we are simply boxed in here,” Holshouser said.