Rising costs, CEO retirement push Life Credit Union to merge

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Life Credit Union in Nashville, Tenn., plans to merge into Fortera Credit Union in Clarksville, Tenn.

Pam Tenpenny, Life’s CEO, informed the board “several years ago” that she planned to retire this December, according to a frequently asked questions page on the credit union’s website. The board considered whether finding a replacement or merging with another institution was in the best interest of members.

The board considered many issues, including the costs required to comply with new regulations and keep up with technology changes, and determined that a merger was the right option, according to the FAQ.

The deal should allow the $37 million-asset credit union to “look to the future with one goal in mind: strengthening our commitment to bring the greatest value and best possible experience to our members and staff,” according to a July 31 letter from Chairman Bubba McIntosh to members.

The $639 million-asset Fortera’s “comprehensive suite” of products should provide expanded service and convenience to members, according to the letter from McIntosh.

Life will keep its name, operating as a subsidiary of Fortera, and all employees will be retained. Life expects to get regulatory approval by Jan. 1.

Life was created in 1958 to serve employees and their families who work in the health care industry in middle Tennessee. It lost roughly $83,000 through the first six months of 2020, compared with earning about $47,000 for the same period in 2019, according to call report data from the National Credit Union Administration.

Fortera has more than 64,000 members and serves two counties in Tennessee and three counties in Kentucky. It earned $1.6 million through the first six months of the year, down roughly 60% from the same period a year earlier, according to NCUA data.

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