By: John Krikorian and Linda Lazar
Credit unions are not-for-profit, cooperative, member-owned financial institutions. They provide a full range of services to meet consumers’ financial needs, including checking and savings accounts, automobile and home loans, home banking, and financial planning.
Unlike their for-profit counterparts, “A credit union’s top priority is to serve its members,” said Bill Cheney, president and CEO of the California Credit Union League. “Credit unions benefit consumers in the form of lower loan rates, higher interest rates on deposits, lower fees, and personal service.”
Credit unions were given the opportunity at the close of the century to expand their reach, allowing them to resume recruiting new members among different business groups and occupations.
SBA Lending Initiative
Credit unions have a long history of business lending, traditionally focusing on the needs of small business owners and providing them with loans that are often considered too small to be practical for many commercial lenders. Business lending among California credit unions has grown nearly 140 percent from 2003 through 2006. It accounts for 3.7 percent of bank and credit union business lending in the state. About 24 of California’s 544 credit unions are currently Small Business Administration (SBA)-approved lenders.
Investing in Community
Credit unions give back to the communities they serve. They build partnerships with schools as well, including establishing student-run branches such as the one at John Burroughs High School in Burbank sponsored by Burbank Community Federal Credit Union.
More than nine million consumers in California and nearly 90 million nationwide are members of credit unions. To locate a credit union you may be eligible to join, visit http://www.joinacu.org
LA Financial Credit Union Celebrates its 70th year of service
LA Financial Credit Union was founded in 1937 for Los Angeles County employees. Since then, the Credit Union’s field of membership has grown. They now can offer services to anyone who lives, works or worships, in Los Angeles County.
At LA Financial Credit Union, every member is a co-owner — there are no stockholders. As a result, they can offer higher rates on savings, lower rates on loans, and free or low-fee services to members.
As a full-service financial institution, LA Financial Credit Union provides everything from free checking to low cost home loans. Electronic services allow members access to their funds 24 hours a day — at anytime, from anywhere.
Members also can access their accounts at over 2,600 U.S. branches, through a nationwide credit union shared branch network. There are 53 locations in Los Angeles County alone. Members of LA Financial also have access to 25,000 surcharge free ATMs.
Anyone interested in joining LA Financial Credit Union, or learning more about how a credit union is different than a bank, can visit LA Financial online at www.lafinancial.org or call 800.894.1200.
Lockheed Federal Credit Union
In 1937, Lockheed Federal Credit Union (LFCU) first opened its doors in Burbank. It was originally chartered by employees from Lockheed Aerospace Corporation (now Lockheed Martin Aerospace Corporation) to serve employees who had trouble getting loans because of their modest salaries. Today, LFCU is one of the nation’s largest and strongest credit unions with more than 100,000 members, and $2.5 billion in assets. LFCU membership is open to Southern California residents of more than 200 sponsor companies.
Owned and democratically controlled by its membership, LFCU is guided by an all-volunteer Board of Directors. Each member has one vote for the Board of Directors, regardless of the amount on deposit in the credit union.
LFCU is the largest financial institution headquartered in the San Fernando Valley and has recently earned a perfect score for financial strength from independent rating company IDC Financial Publishing. For more information about LFCU, visit www.lfcu.com.
Wescom Credit Union
Awarded Community Service Honor By the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership
Wescom was founded in 1934 with assets now 3.9 billion and members exceeding 300,000. Wescom is unique, and is the largest credit union in Los Angeles County with a large branch network. It is also the only financial institution in all of Southern California that offers Sunday hours through its entire branch network.
Wescom participates in community outreach, believing in giving back to the community in which it serves. For example in 2006, Wescom served as a Diamond Sponsor for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, helping breast cancer and treatment. They also entered into a partnership with the Pomona Valley Habitat for Humanity to help build a new home for a deserving family, and provide much of the physical labor to get the job done.
For branch locations throughout Southern California, visit http://www.wescom.org/access/branchlocationsandhours.asp.
Contributing Editors: Tina Ramos-Ingold, California Credit Union League; Alethia Calagias, Lockheed Federal Credit Union; John Kearns, Wescom Credit Union