Chalk up one more for credit unions, as Thrivent Financial Bank will be transitioning into Thrivent Federal Credit Union (Minneapolis, MN) this year.
Thrivent Credit Union president and CEO Todd Sipe told Credit Unions Online that transforming from a bank to a credit union made good common sense.
Regulatory burdens resulting from Dodd-Frank have wreaked havoc on the banking industry, driving banks that enjoyed fat cat profits to raise fees on consumers. Sipe explains that Thrivent’s foundation was not founded on generating a fee-driven business but instead one that offers its membership base competitively priced and positioned financial products.
“One of the key drivers to our decision was the Dodd-Frank legislation and the associated cost,” he explains. “We needed to determine what would be the best way to deliver bank products and services to our clients. After doing our research, converting to a credit union emerged as the best model to serve the members.”
Thrivent filed with the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) in early December and Sipe said that he is hopeful the transition will be complete by midyear.
He says that from the beginning he has communicated with Thrivent’s members with regard to the conversion. “We started communicating with clients from the beginning of the transition, notifying them of our intention to change to a credit union. We will continue to communicate with them until we get there,” Sipe says.
Based on the feedback from clients, Thrivent has received a very encouraging reaction. “To date I have not received one complaint about the transition,” Sipe says. “We’ve actually received many, many calls and letters in support of the transition.”
Sipe explains that Thrivent Bank’s vibrant trust services division ($580 million assets under management) will remain with Thrivent Financial and the traditional banking products and services will be offered through the de novo credit union. Sipe estimates that Thrivent Federal Credit Union open with approximately $530 million in assets under management and 40,000 members.
“While we currently have 40,000 members our potential base is 2.5 million,” Sipe explains. “We plan to continue to reach out to our prospective membership base going forward.”
Traditional Bank Products Get a Credit Union Make Over
Promoting credit union products and services may be an easier sell as Sipe says that products are competitively positioned.
“We took a hard look at our product line up and compared what we offered to what is available in both the credit union and banking industry,” Sipe says. “Our credit union members will have access to a full list of products and services. In fact our checking account is one of the best in the marketplace and we plan to continue to offer it as a credit union.”
Sipe addressed the benefit of being able to offer the same robust line of products for considerably lower fees. “Members can virtually avoid all the hidden fees normally found in the banking industry. For example, our members don’t pay ATM charges and we reimburse surcharges.”
He adds that the credit union will offer online banking and unlimited bill pay, in addition to lines of credit to protect the member from overdraft fees. “Basically, we have eliminated a lot of fees,” he says.
Both the deposit and loan side will be packed with competitively priced products including an unbeatable money market account and full-scale mortgage products.
Ready to “go credit union” like Thrivent Federal Credit Union? Find a credit union in your area today.By Gina Ragusa