Forty years ago, Helen Bunn became the manager of Fannie Mae Federal Credit Union. At that time the credit union served less than 1,000 members and managed assets of just $125,000.
“When you ran a credit union back then, they used to call you a manager,” said Bunn, who is retiring at the end of February. “As I used to tell everybody, I managed my right and my left hand because I was the only person here for a while.”
Even though the Washington, D.C.-based credit union grew to its current $15 million in assets and nearly 6,000 members, Bunn and the board of directors realized Fannie Mae FCU needed to merge with a larger credit union because it was becoming difficult to compete.
“Our older members were happy with the way things were, but the younger crowd was looking for e-statements, mobile banking, remote deposit, text banking… the whole works,” said Bunn. “But for us, we just didn’t have enough members to make those services cost effective. The time was right to merge.”
Because Bunn had gotten to know many of Fannie Mae FCU members and served them over the years, she wanted to make sure the merger wasn’t just a takeover but more like a partnership with a credit union that would continue to provide members with personalized service.
Bunn approached Theresa Mann, president/CEO of the 10,191-member, $126 million Partnership Federal Credit Union, in Arlington, Va. In 2009, Mann oversaw the merger of the single-sponsor credit unions, FDIC FCU and the National Science Foundation FCU, forming the Partnership FCU.
Back then, Mann, who was CEO/president of FDIC FCU, described the consolidation as a new business model for the small, single-sponsor credit union, particularly for government-linked credit unions, that were finding it more difficult and complex to grow without achieving back-office economies.
Bunn liked Mann’s perspective on mergers and decided, along with the board of directors, that Partnership FCU was the best fit for Fannie Mae FCU members.
Although Bunn felt good about the big decision to merge with Partnership FCU, she felt even better after the conversion was completed.
“The conversion went very smoothly,” said Bunn. "I could tell the [Partnership] people knew what they were doing and that they have a desire to serve our membership."
Bunn has stayed on Partnership FCU’s staff to manage the Fannie Mae office until her last day at work on Feb. 28.
“It will be a bittersweet moment for me,” Bunn reflected. “I’m going to miss employees, members and the board, but at the same time, I’ll be overjoyed because I will have the time to travel.”
In addition to traveling, Bunn plans to become a volunteer.