People Helping Um, Aliens, Fake Doctors, Etc.

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HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-When aliens ride past the front lobby in a golf cart and the cast from "Grey's Anatomy" drop by to make a deposit, it's safe to assume that running a branch at First Entertainment CU may be a little different.

Regional Manager Teresa Lee-Forbes, who manages both the Hollywood and Paramount Studios locations of FECU that serve many TV production and movie studio employees, has seen it all-including Ferengis in a golf cart when Star Trek was shooting on the Paramount lot. But she says the majority of her members' needs are no different than members who do business at other CUs across America.

"Most of our members are typical, working-class people. They are the grips, the camera operators, makeup artists, prop makers, and transportation people."

But the $815-million credit union does have its share of special members, including 350 on the "A-List," a subset of the membership FECU has identified who are more high-profile members of the entertainment community-some on camera-and whose loans and other relationships help pay for many of the mainstream services the rest of the 55,000 FECU members receive. First Entertainment has a dedicated staffer who makes sure these members are happy with the credit union.

"They need more personalized services," Lee-Forbes said. "Often they don't have the time to leave the studio or office to come into the branch, so we go to them to do the transaction, deliver paperwork, things like that."

It's not just upscale members, however, who receive special attention. Lee-Forbes reminds her staff that the average First Entertainment member has to be treated somewhat differently than those who do not work in the entertainment business. "They are between jobs more often, as shows come and go. Studio lots go on hiatus. So we have to make sure we have convenient services-like online banking and shared branching-and let our members know about them and how to use them."

Those services keep the credit union in touch with many members of the Paramount Studios location, which is inside the Paramount lot. "When those members are not working they don't have access to the branch, and they need to reach us from another access point," she said.

When members apply for loans, Lee-Forbes and her team interpret members' job stability somewhat differently than the average credit union. "We have pretty tight lending criteria, but we are not surprised when members come in with 10 different paystubs to validate their income. We understand that they may only be on a job for three to six weeks. And we know that they can make a lot of their annual income in a short period time. So we look at their overall financial situation."

Lee-Forbes has been managing a First Entertainment location since the '90s, and despite the glamour of rubbing elbows with TV and movie stars, what keeps her interested in what she does is helping members. "No matter what they do, whether they are on camera or behind the scenes, members all have stories to tell regarding their financial needs. You just listen carefully and give them the services they need."

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