Northwest Preferred Federal
Credit Union Tigard, Oregon, (94 million-in-assets) is the first
credit union in the country to receive a Trade Industry and Professional
(TIP) charter from the NCUA, said president/CEO Tom Edwards, who
noted that it will markedly improve the CU's potential for growth.
The NCUA changed the rules and regulations in March to allow
a single sponsor credit union to apply to serve all segments of
a particular trade, industry or profession, said Edwards.
For sixty years, we served Farmers Insurance agents (the CU's
previous name was Northwest Farmers Insurance Group FCU) and now,
we are free to serve insurance agents in three states.
Having been granted the TIP charter three weeks ago, Northwest
Preferred is now free to offer a full range of financial services
to employees and agents working in the insurance industry in Oregon,
Washington and Idaho.
We have more than 60 years of experience in meeting the needs
of insurance professionals, said Edwards, whether it
is for their personal finances or those of their small business.
Northwest Preferred already had good penetration in its FOM, allowed
Edwards, some 85% to 95% in fact, but as the economy slowed down,
its growth potential was decreasing. We have 7,500 members
right now with a potential of 150,000 to 200,000 new members. That
number is staggering enough to illustrate how it can change our
Edwards said that the deep knowledge of the business needs of independent
insurance agents positions Northwest Preferred to help them grow
their business by providing loans and services specifically geared
for that market. An independent agent going to a bank for
a loan is made to jump through hoops of fire. These agents tell
us they've been eclipsed; they feel they are an overlooked market.
Not any longer.
Typically, an agent may seek a loan to buy the building that houses
his or her office, say, $150,000 to $200,000, Edwards said, and
needs a line of credit. We have something called a 'Happy
Days' loan, named after the TV show. It started as a consumer product
that we expanded for businesses. Instead of buying a computer system
or office furniture on a credit card that gets 14% to 16% interest,
they get an invoice from the company and we make the loan that pays
it for 5%. So, 5% versus 16%? Getting that kind of service is what
we're about. We've also created a Business Account structure that
includes a checking account with sub accounts for taxes, an overflow
account and more. It's one-stop shopping for agents.
Agents seem to be singing the tune, said Edwards. I walked
into an independent agent's office the other day and gave her my
card and explained how her company could join the credit union.
She looked up at me and her eyes lit up. She said, I've always
wanted to join a credit union!