There are some things you can tell about a credit union based on its name. Many monikers are riddled with clues about where the institution operates, whom it serves, how it's regulated, and what it values.
Although names can spotlight a segment of an institution's true identity, they can also conceal the complex system of individuals, behaviors, and values that truly represent the organization's core nature and potential.
A prime example is Navy Army Community Credit Union, headquartered in Corpus Christi, TX.
CU QUICK FACTS
Navy Army Community Credit Union
HQ: Corpus Christi, TX
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 12.75%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 8.36%
A far cry from the small, closed-chartered organization that first opened its doors in 1955 as Naval Employees Corpus Christi Federal Credit Union, this now $2.1 billion institution is the seventh largest credit union in Texas, a state that holds more credit unions than any other in the country.
Its footprint includes 14 branches and nearly 132,000 members as of second quarter 2014, according to Peer-to-Peer Analytics by Callahan & Associates.
Two charter changes in the past 10 years — one from closed to community in 2003 and another from federal to state in 2011 — have been a critical part of its growth. So have its efforts to inform the more than 1.7 million residents in its eight-county field of membership that they don't have to be in the Navy or the Army to be a part of this growing coalition of member-owners.
Natural Beauty Masks An Abundant Need
Corpus Christi boasts 131 miles of beaches with an average water temperature of 71 degrees and offers outdoor activities such as windsurfing, kayaking, and bird watching. Combined with educational, entertainment, and sports attractions, these resources make Corpus Christi a premier vacation destination in the Texas Gulf Coast.
Yet despite the region's appeal for outside visitors, things are not always fun in the sun for its residents.
According to Experian, Corpus Christi is home to some of the lowest average credit scores in the country. And while this environment certainly presents a challenge for many lenders, operating within lower credit tiers has become one of the primary ways NavyArmy differentiates itself from the pack.
"There are many folks out there who need an affordable checking account or other basic financial services at an affordable price," says Dana Sisk, the credit union's chief operations officer. "We work hard at meeting the needs of those modest income members."
The credit union's annual loan growth of 8.36%, annual share growth of 12.75%, and ROA of 1.43% as of second quarter 2014 demonstrates it knows how to take smart chances, including betting on borrowers who look risky on paper but have both the will and the ability to meet their financial obligations.
Minimizing Risk While Maximizing Opportunity
NavyArmy knows how to leverage its staff and membership base to its advantage. Serving a low- to moderate-income membership requires a well-trained staff that is comfortable looking beyond traditional measures of creditworthiness. To this end, employees have flexibility in their lending authority yet refrain from stepping too far out of bounds in terms of risk.
And when the staff succeeds in offering the best member experience possible, NavyArmy is not averse to rewarding employees for a job well done. Perhaps that's why nearly 40% of its staff has been with the credit union for five years or more.
When it comes to effectively serving its member base, the credit union knows it must always be at the top of its game if it expects to capture cross-sales and referrals.
"We focus on developing relationships," Sisk says. "We've found this approach works particularly well in Hispanic markets."
If we can give someone a good experience, we know we will get the business of others in their circle of influence.
That's great news for a credit union headquartered in a city where nearly 60% of the population is Hispanic and 34% of area businesses are Hispanic-owned, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
"These families tend to do business and refer business among themselves," Sisk says. "If we can give someone a good experience, we know we will get the business of others in their circle of influence."
From A South Texas Market To Yours
This five-part feature — Anatomy Of Navy Army Community Credit Union — offers a deep dive into the inner workings of the cooperative's philosophies, strategies, and lessons learned through nearly 60 years of operation.
The tips, strategies, and experiences outlined in A Fresh Market For A New Charter, A Loan Star State Of Mind, Running A Tight Ship In South Texas, and Pass The Torch, Keep The Flame offer direction that can help other credit unions inform their own practices and bring a slice of financial paradise to their marketplace.
Who? What? Where? When? Why?
Warm and welcoming beaches are the main claim to fame for the southern city of Corpus Christi, TX. But a closer look at the history of this region reveals a rich, multifaceted identity.
Latin female pop singer and songwriter Selena rose to fame in the 1990s thanks to crossover hits recorded in Spanish as well as English. Despite a slew of songs that topped the Latin charts, Selena was just making a mark in the United States when she was murdered by a fan at a Days Inn motel in her hometown of Corpus Christi, TX. A life-size bronze statute and museum located downtown now commemorate the young artist who died just two weeks before her 24th birthday.
Corpus Christi, TX, has a booming petroleum industry thanks to the 2008 discovery of the Eagle Ford Shale. According to the Railroad Commission of Texas, the number of producing oil leases on schedule for Eagle Ford Shale rose from 40 in 2009 to 2,521 in 2013. Likewise, the number of producing gas wells on schedule rose from 67 in 2009 to 2,418 in 2013.
The seaside home city of Navy Army Community Credit Union — Corpus Christi, TX — is approximately 200 miles southwest of Houston, 150 miles southeast of San Antonio, and 150 miles north of the American-Mexican border. The city's proximity to the Gulf of Mexico makes it a valuable artery for imports and exports between the United States and Latin America, Mexico, Europe, Africa, and Russia.
In 2005, The Hooks minor league baseball team threw its first pitch on Whataburger Field, marking the arrival of the Houston Astros' Double-A Texas League affiliate to Corpus Christi. The cotton presses that frame the scoreboard in Whataburger's left center field date back as far as the 1920s and pay homage to the site's cotton warehouse heritage.
Throughout its history, the land that now makes up Texas has been ruled by several nations, including Spain and France from across the pond as well as Mexico and the United States right here at home. It's even been a stand-alone republic. As an autonomous nation, its flag bore a single star. When Texas joined the United States in 1845, it brought that famous Lone Star symbol with it as an echo of the individualistic spirit of its past and people.
Sources: Biography.com, Railroad Commission of Texas, Port of Corpus Christi, milb.com