Tuesday, April 11, 2023

SECU Annual Meeting Resolution - Pause To Update

https://indiebusinessnetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/take-a-break-600x600.jpgWell, it has now been six months since the SECU membership approved a resolution of polite inquiry [see October 11, 2022 post] at the 2022 Annual Meeting. Probably time to pause and take stock of what has occurred and what hasn't. So many moving parts, it can get confusing, right?!?

Six months seems like a long time, but the first three months passed waiting - and hoping for the best - as the SECU Board organized its response (the "Fireside Chats") - a courtesy the Board deserved.  Hopes having been dashed by the chicanery of the Board's response, January passed seeking an independent review of the proposed changes at SECU, resulting in the BusinessNC article of February 1, 2022.  February/March brought on SEANC in opposition to risk-based lending and the blog [www.secujustasking.com]. Much of April has witnessed the unraveling repercussions of all this over at LGFCU....

The SECU Board has responded - in a fashion - to each of the six specific questions asked, although with an often contemptuous and incredibly inept, Pinocchioan panache

Let's take a look:

  1. Open Membership - SECU Board says "too soon to say", CEO says "we would like to, we would like to". And, SECU is currently lobbying at the State Legislature for passage of H. 410 which will amend state credit union laws to permit anyone and everyone to join SECU.
  2. Merger with LGFCU - "SECU never made a formal offer to merge with LGFCU" - Chris Ayers, Chair. The ramifications to LGFCU of the "no formal" appear to be potentially catastrophic.
  3. Introduction of Risked-based lending - Implemented March 1, 2023 for consumer lending. For mortgage lending in the future.  50+% of SECU members will be overcharged millions of $$$ in interest  on loans.
  4. Business/Commercial Lending - "Yes, in the future in North Carolina". But, SECU is really not waiting! Over, the last 12 months, SECU has switched to investing in commercial loans (CMBS) outside of North Carolina. $1 billion in member funds have already been exported away from N.C. in commercial loan investments.
  5. Tax Prep Service - providing this service to 100,000 SECU members was too much of a bother. "They will just need to find another solution".
  6. Ending the North Carolina Focus - SECU Board says of course not. But, "Growth for growth's sake quotes, Ad campaign, logo redesign and marketing messaging, support of H. 410 (out of state expansion provisions), out-of-state commercial investments, merger proposals, "dissing "of SEANC, and well-documented conversations at the Board and senior management level say otherwise. Another nothing "formal" prevarication perhaps?

So now, understanding that those 6 concerns were real and that the SECU Board is "dug in", our focus will shift next to the State Legislature and the fight over the passage of "H. 410 - Credit Union Updates". 

Approval of H. 410 will give the SECU Board a legally clearer path to pursue these changes; and, to convert SECU into an anyone can join, regionally/commercially/growth focused institution, no longer interested in, nor controlled by, the best interests of the member-owners.  Defeat of H. 410 will most likely lead to proposals to change out the leadership at SECU. The SECU Board and senior staff have definitely taken cover, but it is a little too late.  

The very public nature of a Legislative fight will require the SECU Board "to come out and play in the open"; and, to be directly questioned, on the record.  A little sunlight and fresh air will be very helpful to this discussion!

So, be sure to go back and review the posts under the H. 410 click box on the white line above. If you wish to contact your state representatives, will show you how to do so tomorrow. 

Progress is being made. The word is - finally! - reaching the membership. One gauge of that reach is that www.secujustasking.com has had over 200,000+ "hits" in the first 45 days... folks are interested in their Credit Union!





  1. Do the right thing! Managers/SVP's you have advisory board members. Inform them of what is happening to our credit union. If H. 410 passes our voice will be silenced. The member will matter no more.

    1. Many SVP’s have been specificity told DO NOT discuss these items with advisory board members… it is a real concern I agree, but they are afraid of losing their jobs, rightfully. MEMBERS need to reach out to advisory board members! Contact your branch, the names are often listed on the wall!

    2. SVP/Managers should have an established relationship with their advisory board members. Folks they can speak with in confidence.The meetings are not monitored, hell Jim removed the "fluff" (minutes). Majority of the time it an advisory board member that's goes to the annual meeting. They must be informed about H. 410 and what it means and must be informed what is happening to their credit union or they will be just like LGFCU members asking "what's going on with my credit union".

    3. SECU is a cooperative- member owned and controlled. Not a corporation- with stockholders. No Board of Director or Salaried Employee of SECU has the right to instruct any staff member to withhold information to members on changing products and services provided to the membership. This is a cause for great concern and indicates a much more serious issue within the Executive branch of our credit union. As a member for almost 30 years, we need an explanation as to why Mr.Hayes and Mr. Ayers and other directors have promised transparency but are not delivering on their promise. Instead quite the opposite is happening. It is clear your employees are very troubled by the changes taking place within our credit union. We as Member Owners see the decline in our services. We want answers from our elected SECU Board of Directors.

    4. Just how many other things are being hid from the membership by Gym Haze and his Executive Team?

  2. I do not believe Jim nor the BOD has answered the question on how these changes benefit the current membership.

  3. Personal Loan RBL will be here this summer, followed by mortgages in the Fall

  4. Thank you for sharing the website metrics, I have wondered

  5. Folks PLEASE reach out to your State representatives! . This is sooo very important! The very purpose of our existence is risk!!

  6. No offense, I never thought I would ever see the day that kool-aid drinkers and non Kool- aid drinkers would actually join together in agreement that the new SECU management and current BOD are horrible for this organization. I am all for change and new policy but when you dismantle our core philosophy, what makes us different and great that's where I draw the line.

    1. Our core philosophy is exactly what our CEO and Executive team has been trying to breakdown! With all the Culture Change, Forget the Past, Look to the Future, New Direction, Total Transparency and my favorite "SECU's gettin' it's groove back!" Gym, we never lost our groove until you came to Raleigh.

      What makes us as credit union employees different? For years, we have been steeped in credit union philosophy and values, taught to take ownership of our jobs and duties, encouraged to learn and grow in our abilities, been reminded to stay humble and thankful for our credit union careers and always stayed focused on providing our Members the best service possible. Not sure anyone can change the core philosophy of an SECU employee.


  7. There is a Difference Part1

    If you’re an SECU member or newer employee you may be wondering what all the “hubbub” is about these last months. Fair enough, if you didn’t realize the difference between past and present leadership, what the credit union was previously and what it is morphing into here are just 3 examples.

    1) The challenge - how could SECU magnify its presence in communities across the state and help North Carolinians improve their lives? SECU’s previous CEO came up with the idea of the Power of a Dollar and the SECU Foundation. By SECU giving up the fee income on the dollar a month checking account service charge and redirecting it to a charitable foundation, SECU through its members, would have millions of dollars to have a positive impact across the state by giving annual scholarships to every public high school in the state to attend a state supported university or community college. And to take the lead in establishing the SECU Cancer Centers in Asheville and Greenville, and teacher housing in rural counties, and SECU Family Houses in Chapel Hill and Winston Salem where families of patients undergoing life threatening treatments stay for little or no cost, and opening SECU Hospice Houses across the state where end of life services are provided with care and love, the list is long and impressive (check their website). (Gym Haze originally considered converting the Foundation into an Association so he could open up field of membership. That would have been disastrous.) A strong argument could be made it’s the most effective and beneficial charitable foundation in North Carolina’s history. That’s true leadership, that’s finding a way to help people, and that’s making a difference (and not being obsessed with maximizing income). SECU helps people, it really is that simple.

    2) SECU’s previous CEO also recognized that our members were getting abused by Payday Lenders. He understood that many members live from paycheck to paycheck. That doesn’t make them bad people or failures, it means a lot of folks struggle to look after their families and resort to taking advances on their paychecks when unexpected things happen (maybe not your “A” paper members). The problem was that these companies were charging rates of 25% or 30%. It was usurious and put members in a debt cycle they couldn’t break. So he came up with the SALO loan. A paycheck advance product at 11.75% with a forced savings component where a small amount of each loan advance went into savings. Used enough, members would eventually save enough from each loan advance to be able to break the payday loan cycle. However, for many members this was the first time they had saved money in their life. There were members who could break the borrowing cycle with their savings but were so proud of those savings accounts they continued to use the salary advance (at a reasonable rate) and their savings would grow to $1000, $1500, $2000 or more. It was easy to see the pride and confidence it created in people that had never had savings before. That’s innovative leadership, that’s solving a problem and making a difference in member’s lives.

  8. There is a Difference Part 2

    3) As another of SECU’s previous CEO’s tenure began he was faced with the unprecedented Covid Pandemic. There was no playbook for something that had never happened before. He guided the Credit Union throughout with thoughtfulness and insight. Our members needed us and he figured it out. SECU closed its lobbies for a few weeks while keeping the drive-thru open to allow time to develop a plan. While most financial institutions didn’t open their lobbies back to their customers for many months or even years SECU reopened in weeks. And in a manner to best protect employees and members. There were employees manning the front door to monitor how many members could come inside at one time, the branch staff was split into A and B teams so that if one team had a high number of employees out sick then the other team would still be available. There were adjustments made on the fly as different challenges arose. That CEO had the safety of members and employees as a priority but he also found a way to keep helping people. That’s real leadership using innovation and new ideas. That’s making a difference.

    Real Organizational Culture is earned by DOING not talking no matter how many Chief Culture Officers you hire. You have to actually stand for something.

    Can anyone reading this who worked for one of the previous CEOs imagine them turning over management functions at SECU to a consultant like Cornerstone as Gym Haze has done? It would be ludicrous to even consider. Cornerstone has done much damage to SECU by setting a goal of beating the Credit Union into mediocrity - industry standard, stay in your lane and between the lines, play inside your sandbox. How does that allow for excellence and innovation?

    The problem is Cornerstone has never understood SECU and Gym Haze never wanted to. Hiring a consultant is like having someone steal your watch and then making you pay them to find out what time it is. It’s been a disaster. Leaders lead, they don’t farm it out. Leaders are innovative and thoughtful, they don’t spend time taking selfies and sending fluffy #TeamSECU emails with emojis and bad grammar. Why did the Board decide to lower the bar?

    Comparing the leadership and intelligence of SECU’s previous CEOs to Gym Haze is just a disappointingly bad joke for the members and employees. And to the SECU Board - this is all your fault. Fix it because…

    The Members Deserve Better.