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Trade, Industry, or Profession (TIP) Credit Union Charter

By Sam Brownell - August 30, 2018

A common bond based on employment in a trade, industry, or profession can include employment at any number of corporations or other legal entities that -- while not under common ownership -- have a common bond by virtue of producing similar products, providing similar services, or participating in the same type of business.

While proposed or existing single common bond credit unions have some latitude in defining a trade, industry, or profession occupational common bond, it cannot be defined so broadly as to include groups in fields which are not closely related. For example, the manufacturing industry, energy industry, communications industry, retail industry, or entertainment industry would not qualify as a TIP because each industry lacks the necessary commonality. However, textile workers, realtors, nurses, teachers, police officers, or U.S. military personnel are closely related and each would qualify as a TIP.

The common bond relationship must be one that demonstrates a narrow commonality of interests within a specific trade, industry, or profession. If a credit union wants to serve a physician TIP, it can serve all physicians, but that does not mean it can also serve all clerical staff in the physicians’ offices. However, if the TIP is based on the health care industry, then clerical staff would be able to be served by the credit union because they work in the same industry and have the same commonality of interests.

If a credit union wants to include the airline services industry, it can serve airline and airport personnel but not passengers. Clients or customers of the TIP are not eligible for credit union membership (e.g., patients in hospitals).

Any company that is involved in more than one industry cannot be included in an industry TIP (e.g., a company that makes tobacco products, food products, and electronics). However, employees of these companies may be eligible for membership in a variety of trade/profession occupational common bond TIPs.

Since a TIP must be narrowly defined, it cannot include third party vendors and other suppliers. For example, the steel suppliers to the automobile industry would not be part of the automobile industry TIP. However, the automobile industry includes manufacturers and their automobile dealerships.

In general, except for credit unions currently serving a national field of membership or operating in multiple states, a geographic limitation is required for a TIP credit union. The geographic limitation will be part of the credit union’s charter and generally correspond to its current or planned operational area. More than one federal credit union may serve the same trade, industry, or profession, even if both credit unions are in the same geographic location.

This type of occupational common bond is only available to single common bond credit unions. A TIP cannot be added to a multiple common bond or community field of membership. To obtain a TIP designation, the proposed or existing credit union must submit a request to the regional director. New charter applicants must follow the documentation requirements in Chapter 1. New charter applicants and existing credit unions must submit a business plan on how the credit union will serve the group with the request to serve the TIP. The business plan also must address how the credit union will verify the TIP. Examples of such verification include state licenses, professional licenses, organizational memberships, pay statements, union membership, or employer certification. The regional director must approve this type of field of membership before a credit union can serve a TIP. Credit unions converting to a TIP can retain members of record but cannot add new members from its previous group or groups, unless it is part of the TIP.

Section II.H, on Other Persons Eligible for Credit Union Membership, applies to TIP based credit unions except for the corporate account provision which only applies to industry based TIPs. Credit unions with industry based TIPs may include corporations as members because they have the same commonality of interests as all employees in the industry. For example, an airline service TIP (industry) can serve an airline carrier (corporate account); however, a nurses TIP (profession) could not serve a hospital (corporate account) because not everyone working in the hospital shares the same profession.

If a TIP designated credit union wishes to convert to a different TIP or employer-based occupational common bond, or different charter type, it only retains members of record after the conversion. The regional director, for safety and soundness reasons, may approve a TIP designated credit union to convert to its original field of membership.



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