Credit Unions Stabilize After Years of Consolidation

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Aug. 6, 2012 12:00 am  

The number of credit unions in Arkansas has stabilized at 62 during the past year after more than a decade of steady attrition.

"As far as I know, every credit union is still going strong," Reta Kahley, president of the Arkansas Credit Union League, said. "Some are doing better than others, but I don't know of any mergers that are imminent."

(Click here to see a PDF list of the state's credit unions, ranked by assets as of Dec. 31, 2011. A spreadsheet version of this list is also available.)

The credit union that has been going strongest is Telcoe Federal Credit Union of Little Rock. The second-largest credit union in Arkansas added $25.1 million in assets last year, and CEO Sarah Mosley has scared up another $13 million in the first six months of 2012 to become only the second credit union in the state to pass the $300 million mark.

"They've been doing more promotional-type things, and Sarah runs a great credit union," Kahley said. With a tradition of competitive interest rates on savings accounts, "she never has any trouble attracting money."

Telcoe's total assets grew by more than 9 percent last year, and that followed growth of almost 13 percent in 2010. Statewide, credit union assets grew by 3.8 percent in 2011, or $87.8 million, to $2.39 billion.

Of the total statewide growth, then, Telcoe represented more than a quarter.
Even at $309 million, the assets that Telcoe reported to the National Credit Union Administration as of June 30, it's barely one-third the size of the state's largest credit union, Arkansas Federal Credit Union of Jacksonville. But Telcoe was almost as profitable, reporting net income of $4.11 million while AFCU netted $4.44 million.

AFCU is growing as well, and more this year than last. AFCU ended 2011 with assets of $837.7 million, up $16.5 million (or 2 percent) from the end of 2010. But in the first two quarters of 2012, CEO Larry Biernacki has already added $30.5 million in assets.

Just as there is a wide gulf between AFCU and Telcoe, there's a wide gulf between Telcoe and the next-largest credit unions. But No. 4 and No. 5, Mil-Way Federal Credit Union of Texarkana and Arkansas Best Federal Credit Union of Fort Smith, both crossed the $100 million mark in assets and were neck-and-neck at $104.9 million and $104.6 million at the end of 2011.

Both reported profits. Mil-Way had net income of $494,468, while Arkansas Best FCU earned $914,847, making it the fourth most profitable credit union in the state.
No. 3 in terms of net income was Arkansas Superior Federal Credit Union of Warren, which had net income of $1.33 million on assets of only $60.8 million.

While several credit unions barely broke even, 15 showed net losses during 2011. The biggest lost was suffered by Dillard's Federal Credit Union of Little Rock, which lost $268,097 on assets of $28.5 million.



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