Book On Recession Cites CU for 'Responsible Approach' To Mortgages

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LAS VEGAS-There is nothing like free publicity, which is what Nevada Federal Credit Union is getting in a new economics book.

"Spend Shift," by John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio, purports to tell "How the post-crisis values revolution is changing the way we buy, sell and live." The authors discuss many aspects of American business that have been shaken up in recent years due to the "Great Recession."

The chapter on Las Vegas focuses on the loss of trust that has taken place in a number of industries-a phenomenon that hit financial institutions hardest as the public questioned their role in causing the financial crisis.

The book describes Nevada FCU as "one major lender in Las Vegas that promoted a responsible, old-fashioned approach to home mortgages and personal finance." It lauded an aggressive billboard campaign and indirectly quoted a story that appeared in CU Journal [The Odds On Getting Noticed, Sept. 28, 2009]. Nevada Fed's efforts to help people through its "New Start Checking" received notice, as did its low rates on credit cards.

NFCU was praised for allowing members to post comments on its Facebook, Twitter and Bebo accounts, specifically the negative comments, which the authors noted received personal responses. "Which shows the credit union's commitment to having long-term relationships," they enthused.

In a later chapter they added, "Nevada Federal Credit Union offers a perfect example of how fairness makes for good business."

Greg Barnes, Nevada FCU's SVP-marketing, said the CU was pleased to be used as a positive example alongside Henderson-based shoe company Zappos.com, known for its fun and friendly work environment. "I'm not sure why they picked us out, but they were looking for best practices in Las Vegas," he said. "They didn't even interview me formally, but they looked at the efforts we were making with social media and featured us along with Zappos. When I received a copy of the book it was surprising, but it was exciting and it was good for the credit union. We have been on such a rough path for the past two years it was good to be recognized for doing something well."

Certainly "rough path" describes well Nevada Fed's experience in the last three years. Southern Nevada has been particularly hard hit by high unemployment and a disastrous housing market.

As chronicled in CU Journal, it has endured layoffs ["Nevada FCU Announces Layoffs Amid State's Downturn," Oct. 29, 2009], was forced to request some depositors to withdraw their funds ["Nevada Fed Asks Members To Move Money Out of CU," March 8, 2010], and dealt with members who strategically defaulted on mortgages ["How CUs Are Dealing with 'Walk Away' Members," March 29, 2010].

Nevada Federal's asset size has dipped considerably since it was $842 million in December 2005. In the September 2010 Call Report, it had $693 million. The CU posted a $32- million loss in 2009, so when results from the first half of 2010 yielded a loss of "only" $2.8 million (including its assessment for the corporate stabilization of $877,424), CEO Brad Beal wryly observed, "things are less bad, which is different from good," [In Vegas, Smaller Losses, 'Things Less Bad,' Sept. 6, 2010].

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