Wednesday, February 22, 2023

BusinessNC Article #2


State Employees’ group dings credit union for lending shift

The N.C. State Employees’ Credit Union’s plan to change its unusual lending policy, detailed in a recent Business North Carolina magazine story, is sparking opposition from the 46,000-member State Employees Association of North Carolina.

This week, a spokesperson said the second-largest U.S. credit union will phase in “tier-based lending” starting in March. SECU officials previously had not detailed the start date.

SEANC President Martha Fowler asked SECU to reverse its plans for tier-based lending, according to a Feb. 18 letter to board Chair Chris Ayers. Should the board not rescind the plan, Fowler said the group may attempt to elect a “more representative board and leadership at SECU.”

State Employees’ Credit Union in downtown Raleigh.

SECU’s board has approved a shift away from its policy of offering the same loan rates to its 2.7 million members. No other major U.S. financial institution uses a similar strategy, which reflects an intentional effort to favor members of more modest means. Others offer lower borrowing rates to customers with stronger financial profiles.

The credit union says the change will “allow us to better and more equitably serve all members.” SECU says by offering tiered rates, it can attract more business from members who have been opting for other lenders with more competitive offerings. Officials say they will continue emphasizing loans to members with lesser credit scores, often at better terms than available elsewhere.

SEANC’s board voted to send the letter to Ayers after hearing a presentation on SECU’s plans from former CEO Jim Blaine at a weekend meeting, Executive Director Ardis Watkins says. Blaine, who led the credit union from 1979 to 2016, has sent a series of emails to SECU’s board in the past month, blasting tiered lending and urging Ayers to explain the institution’s strategy.

Leigh Brady, the credit union’s chief operating officer, is scheduled to speak to the SEANC board in May, Watkins says.

Mike Lord, another former CEO who worked at SECU for more than 40 years, estimates that at least 60% of members would pay higher interest rates under tiered lending. Many members with lesser credit scores will be paying 2 percentage points or more on their loans, compared with current rates, he estimates.

SECU says it will work closely with members to offset the impact of changes, including offering more financial counseling and progams to improve credit scores.

“Many of our members took out loans at SECU when they couldn’t get them anywhere else,” Watkins says. “There’s lots of loyalty on the line.”

While representing a small minority of the total state workforce, SEANC has exerted political influence for decades.

The credit union elects three or four directors at its annual meeting, which is typically held in October.

The credit union is financially strong with robust capital that exceeds regulatory requirements. Assets totaled $50.97 billion as of Dec. 31, 2022, compared with $51.65 billion a year earlier. That marked the first annual decline in its 85-year history. Other financial institutions have also reported lower assets, citing declining values of stocks and bonds held in investment portfolios.

A spokesperson notes that many U.S. and N.C. credit unions and banks reported lower deposits in 2022, after growing sharply in 2021 because of federal stimulus payments related to the pandemic. SECU’s deposits declined 0.8% in 2022 as members withdrew money to pay for higher living expenses, the spokesperson adds.

SECU Financials - Slip Sliding Away

 To: SECU Board of Directors


Dear Chairman Ayers,

'Course everybody and his cousin in North Carolina are awaiting anxiously to find out if you and the SECU Board did the right thing on risk-based lending last night!

.... but appreciate that you and the SECU Board are hesitant to inform member-owners about what's going on at your credit union to be careful about being too transparent with members, right?

And, understand tha "Legal" now has to tell you what to do and how to everybody's cool, patient - don't worry -  members can wait for your decision. Hey, take your time, no members get hurt until you go ahead with RBL.

In the mean time... slip sliding away?

A little chart of asset growth over the last few years...

Time Period

Total Assets


$38.8 Billion


.$41.3 Billion


$47.3 Billion


$51.6 Billion


$51.8 Billion


$50..9 Billion


$50.2 Billion

  SECU had 85 years of uninterrupted year-over-year asset growth! 
     What happened? this in your Strategic Plan?

image.pngMight want to raise savings rates before more folks fly south - and north, and east, and west!




SECU Risk-based Lening # 11

 To: SECU Board of Directors

Dear Chairman Ayers,

image.pngYou could have easily avoided this...

The State Employees Association of North Carolina (SEANC) Governors' letter (representing @ 46,000 N.C. state employees) to Chairman Chris Ayers and the SECU Board rescind risk-based lending - now! - (passed unanimously 2/18/2023):

Screenshot_2023-02-20 SECU letter from Martha Fowler-4(1)-1 pdf.png

image.png...looks kinda like the first duck has hit the fan.

Hope The SECU Board has reached the point where it can positively confirm to all members on Wednesday that... [link -top left, wait for "Hank! to load"]

 At the Board meeting tonight, just remember your mission statement: "Do the Right Thing!"

SECU Board - Arrows in Judgment


To: SECU Board of Directors


Dear Chairman Ayers,

Hope the SECU Board did the right thing last night and changed your last stand on RBL! We all get it wrong from time to time, even a Chairman Errs.....

     "Where did all these Indians come from?"
         - General George Armstrong Custer've definitely ruffled some feathers - 'bout 46,000 at SEANC evidently.




The Current SECU Board - Email Addresses

The SECU Board of Directors is elected by SECU members to represent their (the members', not the Board's!)  best interests. The SECU Board has always been attentive and responsive to the needs of the membership. 

Member input and feedback is important in keeping the SECU Board informed. If you would like to contact the SECU Board, here are their email addresses - be sure to ask for a response.

Email addresses of the SECU Board:

  1. Chris Ayers, Chair
  2. Alice Garland, VC
  3. Bob Brinson          
  4. Jo Anne Sandford 
  5. Jennifer Haygood 
  6. Mark Fleming      
  7. McKinley Wooten, jr
  8. Mona Moon          
  9. Stelfanie Williams
  10. Thomas Parrish, IV
  11. Ben McLawhorn   

                Be polite - Be respectful - Be heard!