‘If we had done it on our own, it would have taken a lot longer.’
The $1 billion United Heritage Credit Union has received preliminary approval from the Texas Credit Union Department to add 11 counties and the Texas Consumer Council to its field of membership. It should be able to begin serving its new potential members by the end of the month, according to United Heritage Credit Union Chief SVP of Risk Management Karen Wilkerson.
The new counties applied for include Bell, Blanco, Burnet, Lee, Milam, Cherokee, Gregg, Henderson, Rusk, Upshur, and Van Zandt, according to the Texas Credit Union Department. Wilkerson explained that the United Heritage had tried to add the Texas Consumer Council in the past. “We had always been interested in the Texas Consumer Council,” she said. “There was something in their bylaws that prevented them from being a SEG under state rules.” However, the organization’s bylaws changed, so it became eligible, Wilkerson said.
CUCollaborate helped research and submit United Heritage Credit Union’s field of membership expansion application. Learn more about CUCollaborate’s field of membership analysis tools here! Wilkerson commented, “If we had done it on our own, we would still be working on it.”
She added, “[CUCollaborate Founder/CEO] Sam Brownell and his team were a real value add. They made it really easy for us.”
By adding the Texas Consumer Council employees and voting members, United Heritage could basically serve anyone in the state, according to Wilkerson, but that’s not the plan. The credit union wants to stick to members who are relatively local to their service facilities. “We still intend to mainly serve people who can walk into a branch, not just be served electronically,” she said.
Texas field of membership regulation for state-chartered credit unions is relatively flexible, Cornerstone Credit Union League Chief Advocacy Officer Jim Phelps. “We have a strong state charter in Texas, including field of membership rules,” he said. In addition to any state field of membership benefits, state regulation also allows for federal parity, meaning state-chartered credit unions can have the same access as federal charters.
Phelps said that having a separate and independent credit union regulator, unlike most states which place credit unions under the banking category, is very helpful. He emphasized that the Cornerstone league has always had a good relationship with the state agency, and during next week’s state governmental affairs conference, Phelps said the league will “fight tooth and nail to keep their regulator and keep it independent. He explained that in the past the state regulator was restricted by state budgets, but now has “self-directed, semi-independent status.” In Texas, the state reviews all regulatory agencies every 12 years to ensure they’re necessary and the review is due to come in less than two years.