Monday, October 2, 2023

"The Assembiy" Weighs In With Article on SECU Disruptions And Upcoming Election...


"The Assembly publishes deep reporting on power and place in North Carolina."  


"The Assembly" is a widely-followed North Carolina political/business/social policy newspaper published online each week. One of the featured stories this week is a deep dive article on SECU by Carli Brousseau entitled "Do The Right Thing" []

Well worth a read, as it covers a lot of ground on the problems which have developed at SECU and why a contested election has been the result. Take a look! 

Won't rehash any of the story, but suspect some of you - after reading it -  might like a "little explanation" about two blurbs involving me in the story. Fair enough! The first one was a joke about "brothels and bankers". That line was used during a national debate between the president of the American Community Bankers Association and me about 15 years ago. The forum was the Government Affairs Conference (GAC) of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in D.C., the largest credit union trade group in the U.S. 

That type of ribald humor didn't go over well with some folks then and still wouldn't today. You might be interested to know that one of the chief topics of that national debate 15 years ago was risk-based lending (RBL), the same issue which has drawn the ire of so many SECU members this year. With the adoption by the SECU Board of the unjust, discriminatory risk-based lending in March, 2023: SECU has joined the ranks of many other financial institutions assuring that people who know the least and have the least always pay the most for financial services - that's not a joke for the members of SECU. And lastly as a experienced speaker, three words to the wise: 1) Try to entertain, 2) Never be dull, and 3) Never make the same mistake twice - I haven't on this one!

The second blurb which I call "The Godfather Story" (as in Marlon Brando and "the Family") is a little more complex. I didn't recall that tale when Ms. Brousseau brought it up. So, here's what I sent her about what I knew...

To Carli Brousseau: Thanks for your "fact checking" call for your upcoming story.  Thought about "The Godfather Story" and don't remember the incident at all, but would ask that you provide me with a few more details, so I can research the story a bit further. Here are a few pieces of information which I do recall which might be helpful:
  • Have known Emily Hollis, principal at ALM First [link] for over 25 years. As an investment advisor ALM First earns its keep primarily by managing investment portfolios for clients for a fee.
  • I think very highly of Ms. Hollis, always have. As far as I know, the relationship has always been cordial.
  • Ms. Hollis is among the better investment gurus in the credit union space - smart, knowledgeable, widely respected.
  • Ms. Hollis over several decades sought to assist SECU by managing part of the SECU investment portfolio (which at @ $14 billion is one of the largest in the CU industry.)
  • SECU has always managed its own investment portfolio which saves millions in fees for members. SECU never used any outside brokers, including ALM First.
  • The in house investment management at SECU continued under the leadership of Mike Lord, SECU CEO, until Sept, 2021.
  • Mr. Hayes, the new, now departed SECU CEO, in 2021/2022 outsourced @ $5 billion of the SECU investment portfolio to an investment advisory firm - ALM First! (see some background verification info from a retired investment manager at SECU under next bullet).
  •  Email exchange 9/30/2023 with former SECU investment manager: 
    Q) Refresh my memory....Did SECU outsource to ALM First $5 billion of the investment portfolio? Or what was the story on ALM First, Emily Hollis, the $ amount?   A) SECU did outsource to ALM First, no question about that.  But as for the exact amount, I couldn’t tell you.  The clamps were put on giving out that kind of information well over a year ago, even to people like me, thanks to this Board and Jim Hayes who didn’t want negative news getting out in the public eye.  Even [name omitted] dodges any questions I ask about the portfolio. I do think I remember hearing a $5 billion number being thrown around but don’t remember the source.  But believe it’s safe to assume that any securities on the call report other than cash or US Treasuries (UST), ALM First did it.  My understanding is that SECU still does UST trades themselves. Q) ...did y'all move to using brokers under Mike Lord (whether ALM First or others) or did you continue in house? A) No, we always executed the trades in house, but of course we needed brokers to take the other side of the trade.  Settlement was always "delivery vs payment" (DVP ) through the Fed, safekeeping at Fed also, we never put money on deposit with any broker.  
    TradeWeb was/is (?) our medium of communication with brokers going back to 2001.  It saved us tens of millions of dollars in trade executions over the years, maybe $100 million or more, and that’s a no sh*t, no exaggeration number.  Better, more efficient and more timely pricing. Being able to go straight to a broker’s bond trading desk vs having to deal with a middleman over the phone.
  • Mr Hayes now serves on ALM First's Board of Advisors [link]. The financial circumstances, if any, surrounding that position are unknown. That coincidence was mentioned publicly in the blog post and Ms. Hollis may have taken offense.
  • The announced assets under management for ALM First in 2021 were @$50 billion, so acquiring an additional $5 billion from SECU was not an insignificant business transaction for ALM First. 
    Fees for investment management can vary widely, but advisory fees for managing $5 billion would be significant.
  • ALM First has many key clients in the CU industry including in the past Wescorp.  Questions on "The Godfather Story":
  • Although I don't recall the incident, I believe the story, if Ms. Hollis said so. She has always been credible.
  • It would be helpful to hear more fully how Ms. Hollis related the story to you and why it is being told at this juncture in time? Could you provide a more complete summary of "The Godfather Story"?
  • I believe the debate must have occurred at one of ALM First's own conferences held for CEO/CFO's - this one in Las Vegas in 2010, is that right?
  • You indicated the incident revolved around the preparation of an investment analysis report, which was probably a topic of discussion at ALM First's conference.
  • Was the report ever published? If so, is a copy available? 
  • Would you send a copy?
  • What exactly was the nature of the dispute between Ms. Hollis and me in the report?
  • Was there a reasonable basis for the disagreement?
  • How was the dispute resolved? Was the resolution fair?
  • Did ALM First (Hollis) and SECU (Blaine) remain on amicable terms after the Godfather story dispute?
  • Why would "The Godfather Story" be considered anything more than poor humor gone awry?
    Please feel free to share this email with Ms. Hollis at ALM First, so she can respond publicly.
    ๐Ÿ˜Ž As these storied "potted๐ŸŒดplants" demonstrate, it seems that SECU's hired PR guns continue to "have fitz" with "the crisis" of member involvement  in SECU [link]! That's no joke either...
BTW, Ms. Brousseau sent a copy of the story and asked me what I thought about it?
The response: "Unfortunately, I feel the story was well-balanced, fair, and well done! Therefore, I will not be sending you any funeral flowers nor horse heads. (She said she appreciated that!).
And, 'bout that Jackass photo, being blunt, being a bully, Purple Duck etc... hope this will help reassure you that, while I take injustice in any form very seriously... myself? Nope, not so much, life is too short! Cheers!







  1. We are “going to the mattresses” this is our credit union! Thank you Jim Blaine for standing up for what’s right. Do the right thing VOTE!

  2. I just checked ALM First's website. Yep, there's Jim Hayes on the board of directors page. Wonder how much money he had made selling out SECU? The corruption is sickening.

    1. ๐Ÿ‘€ ๐Ÿ‘€ ๐Ÿ‘€ seems like their little story then backfired. Since we all now know with even more clarity that this board is all in on selling out its members’ money for personal financial gain.. Shame shame shame on all of you.

  3. Wouldn’t that be an issue? We used an investment firm to manage our excess capital and gym haze all of a sudden dropped $50billion on ALM. Same firm that he is a board member of?

    Also we’ve had losses last year which we’ve never had and all occurred during his short time as CEO

  4. The timing of all this has the fingerprints of corrupt insiders all over it... This has been the MO of groups/people/insiders like this for years. Do you think we can't see through this? Oh and I see they found their pawn they can use ... just another smear campaign. These folks are political hacks and now have drug SECU into the fray... This is just another hit piece done by the great deceivers ... ALL these people involved in this mess at SECU don't have to worry about RBL. Money and power will corrupt your soul if you let it ... Be aware, the Shepard of Grace and Mercy is also one of Fairness and Justice!

  5. It's as if we needed any more evidence that this Board and their 'team' of advisors 'Hate' the very people they should be serving ... time to quit feeding their addiction to money and power! It's up to us Members/Owners to send that message ... any oversight organization ain't coming to our rescue ... they don't see a problem with any of this ... their silence is deafening and very telling!

  6. Great article in The Assembly, very well written and much to the point of: State Employees' Credit Union began as and still is a Not for Profit - Member Owned Cooperative where it's Members equally own and should always be equally served. Anything less, strays from the purpose and mission of being a credit union and negates the benefits of being a SECU Member Owner.

    Much like the Godfather story, for over 85 years SECU is and has been a "Family" made up of North Carolina's state employees and others who share a common bond. This Family has collectively pooled their money to provide financial benefits and services to one another in every part of the state. Fairly and consistently to all Members - not dependent upon your social, educational or political status. A rare gem in today's world and definitely something of extreme value worth fighting to preserve.

    As for the Godfather story, we are very proud of Jim Blaine here in North Carolina. His prior years of SECU service and the level of trust he earned by Always Doing the Right Thing for the SECU Member Owners is not debatable. He was "asked" to take the spokesperson role last year by "the Family" who were concerned for the present and the future of SECU under the control of This Board and CEO Jim Hayes. With the disguise of big tech promises and the new/new direction changes, this group was tearing the credit union apart, weakening it's structure and killing it's culture. During the 2022 Annual Meeting, Jim Blaine representing "The Family" simply asked, "Where are you taking us and Why are you taking us there"?

    Us, being the SECU Members have yet to get a trustworthy answer from This Board. Now, is the time to send This Board our answer - We are not going anywhere with you - We are taking our credit union back starting on October 10 with 3 New Directors.

    Today is the final day for Absentee voting, if you haven't already, cast those votes for Perkins, Clements and Stone.

    1. -We are SECU- and We have voted.

  7. Brady looks like part of the furniture.

  8. Go Jean Blaine. Tell the godfather to get out of your way and let you take care of this.

  9. Duos who mak you laugh, Abbot and Costello, Cheech and Chong, Ayers and Wooten

    1. Two of the three lawyers on this board!