SEGs Taking Backseat To Community Charters

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The trend among federally chartered credit unions is moving increasingly away from expansions through select groups and more and more towards community chartering.

Data compiled by NCUA shows that field of membership expansions through select groups declined by 6% from the one year period June 2001 to June 2002 to the same period one year later, while the addition of potential members through select groups declined by 8% during the same period. At the same time, conversions to or expansions by community charters increased by 6%, while potential membership growth through community charters during the time soared by 80%.

"The trend in chartering is clear," declared NCUA General Counsel Bob Fenner during the annual NASCUS convention in Vail, Colo., last week. "We're seeing much greater numbers of increasing (FOM) through expanding community charters or converting to community charters."

Fenner told the state regulators NCUA approved its largest community grant last month, allowing SunWest FCU, in Phoenix, to serve 3.2-million residents in Maricopa County. The agency is also expected to approve a request this week by Bethpage FCU to serve a similar size population, about three million people, in the two Long Island, New York, counties of Nassau and Suffolk.

And both FOM grants are dwarfed by a pending application from Mission FCU in San Diego, which was approved a few months ago to serve the three-million residents of San Diego County, to add the 10-million people in Los Angeles County to its FOM. At least two state-chartered credit unions have already been authorized to serve the vast California county.

The data shows NCUA has been steadily increasing the size of its community grants, from an average of 133,929 people in 1999, to 151,042 in 2000, 165,764 in 2001, and 260,874 in 2002.

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