Category Archives: Banking & Credit Unions

African American Banks Reduced To 21 – North Milwaukee State Bank Closes


NorthMilwakeeStateBanK_home_wp

The state of Wisconsin has lost one of its two African American owned banks. North Milwaukee State Bank, which was almost three times the size of Wisconsin’s other African American owned bank, Columbia Savings & Loan Association, officially had its doors shutdown on March 11, 2016. It is one of only two American bank failures in 2016 thus far.

Per the FDIC, “To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First-Citizens Bank & Trust Company, Raleigh, North Carolina, to assume all of the deposits of North Milwaukee State Bank.” First-Citizens Bank & Trust is controlled by a bank holding company, First Citizens Bancshares, which is publicly traded on the NASDAQ. Its primary shareholders are the Holding family and Fidelity Investments.

For the entire FDIC official release click here.

The closure takes $67.1 million in assets and $61.5 million in deposits off the books of African American owned banks as a collective.

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XULA FCU Growing, Virginia State University FCU In Crisis, And 2016 HBCU-Based Credit Unions Overall – Stagnant


Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. – Martin Luther

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2016’s HBCU-based credit unions are stuck in neutral. Eleven HBCU-based credit unions assets are unchanged from 2015 and still stand at $87 million. Membership saw a decline from just over 17 000 in 2015 to 16 546 in 2016. For comparison, Navy Federal Credit Union, America’s largest credit union has $73.3 billion in assets and 5.9 million members.

  1. Southern Teachers & Parents (LA) – $28.3 million ($28 million)
  2. Florida A&M University (FL) – $20.1 million ($19.6 million)
  3. Howard University Employees (DC) – $10.8 million ($11.3 million)
  4. Virginia State University (VA) – $8.6 million ($9.6 million)
  5. Prairie View (TX) – $4.8 million ($4.8 million)
  6. Savastate Teachers (GA) – $3.7 million ($3.6 million)
  7. Councill (AL) – $3.4 million ($3.4 million)
  8. Xavier University (LA) – $2.6 million ($2.4 million)
  9. Arkansas A&M College (AR) – $2.4 million ($2.3 million)
  10. Tennessee State University (TN) – $1.6 million ($1.4 million)
  11. Shaw University (NC) – $0.6 million ($0.5 million)

HBCU-based credit unions while having almost $90 million in assets are too top heavy as a collective. The top four HBCU-based credit unions have almost 80 percent of the group’s combined assets. Unfortunately, the fourth member of the group, Virginia State University Federal Credit Union, is dragging down the collective. Over the past two years VSU FCU has seen its assets decline almost 20 percent. VSU FCU is in the process of a transition in leadership after the long-term CEO Peggy Custis stepped down after a multi-decade run. In her place, Katrina Peerman, is serving as interim CEO while the board looks to make a long-term decision. That long-term decision, whether it remains Ms. Peerman or an outside choice could have a rippling effect that impacts the group as a whole. Can HBCU-based credit unions come into the 21st century? It remains to be seen whether they possess the leadership or aggressive vision required to facilitate

HBCU Money’s 2015 review and analysis of HBCU-based credit unions remain unchanged:

Unfortunately, there also seems to be no urgency by these credit unions to do the things necessary to increase their membership and assets. Students entering into HBCUs today may be more financially illiterate than a generation ago, but they have more complex financial needs thanks in large part to student loans playing such a large role into today’s higher education finance. Not to mention the reduced role that social security will play in their long-term retirement planning. An issue that should be prompting more HBCU-based credit unions to find ways to help students reduce student loan debt and start retirement planning while in college. A hard task to give this group given the limited financial products and services they offer leave HBCU-based credit unions minute opportunity to serve the needs of students, faculty, campus organizations, or even the HBCUs themselves. These limited products and services are largely an issue of lacking scale. Instead of a credit union with at least $87 million in assets, the median is $3.6 million amongst eleven with declining assets and membership. Instead of students, faculty, and institutions who travel more today than ever to conferences, tournaments, etc. being able to access their money at one of the eleven branches or through mobile app banking along the way, they are limited to just one insular branch with technology that at best reminds you of AOL dial-up. Holding onto students is even more difficult with most returning to their hometowns or nearest major city upon graduation and only returning to the campus at most once a year for homecoming. Incentive to keep banking beyond graduation? None.

Lauryn Hill has a wonderful song called the Ex-Factor that I think often describes African America institutional strategic behavior and with HBCU-based credit unions it seems no different. “It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard. Loving you is like a battle and we both end up with scars.” I still believe with the right vision, an HBCU credit union could rival the Navy Federal Credit Union and give African America a place of financial safety instead of the scars we constantly end up with from predatory financial services that come into communities because we are left with such meager choices from our own financial institutions. It really all could be so simple, but more than likely we will continue to make it hard.

Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, And Others Plead Guilty – African American Banking Opportunity?


It isn’t the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that counts. – Woody Hayes

Wells-Fargo

I have to say if I was CEO at an African American owned bank or credit union right now I would be salivating at the news where two of America’s largest banks plead guilty to felony charges for manipulating currencies and rigging interest rates. Citibank and J.P. Morgan Chase control a combined $2.3 trillion in deposits worldwide. For perspective, total bank deposits in the United States total $9.3 trillion. This provides an opportunity to give a new narrative to African American communities about the value of banking with someone they know and trust. A bank/credit union owned by and for their community. Although not charged, I would also lump Bank of America and Wells Fargo into my attack, which given their recent settlements for predatory lending towards African American communities would not be a reach at all.

NPR reports, “Citicorp, JPMorgan Chase, Barclays, The Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS AG have agreed to plead guilty to felony charges and pay billions in criminal fines, the Department of Justice says. The offenses range from manipulating the value of dollars and euros to rigging interest rates.” The banks charged will be paying a $5.6 billion in fines combined, with Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase paying $1.26 billion and $892 million, respectively. Despite the heavy fines, no one will face actual criminal chargers. Bear in mind for perspective that Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase had 2014 net income of $7.3 billion and $21.8 billion, respectively. In other words, Citigroup will be paying 17.3 percent of its net income (profits) and J.P. Morgan Chase will pay 4.1 percent of its net income (profits). It is not clear however if they have to pay the fine at once or have been put on a payment plan.

By now, we have all heard the number – $1.1 trillion. That is the buying power of African America, but what we rarely hear is that less than 1 percent of that buying power sits in African American banks and credit unions (AABCUs). This continuously leaves African America in dire straits needing access to capital, but putting non-AABCUs like Citigroup, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America in a position to take our money and then use it as a predatory weapon against our communities. One of a bank’s objectives is move the risk from those that own it onto other groups. The aforementioned banks not owned by us are doing their job and doing it well. We just keep aiding them by giving them a larger deposit base which in turn gets loaned back to us at predatory rates so that the owners can secure loans at discounted rates. Our communities pay more so that their communities can pay less. In other words, we deposit $1.00 in the bank and they deposit $1.00 in the bank. The bank now has $2.00 it can lend out. They will borrow $0.50 at 4 percent and our community borrows $0.25 (but needs $0.50) at 8 percent. But why have AABCUs not take advantage of this telling this narrative?

African American banks and credit unions have as a collective not done a good job of expounding their benefits to the communities they are in. Not nearly enough community outreach or customer acquisition investment has been done by African American owned financial institutions. The question if its the chicken or the egg in this case remains in flux. Do you spend limited resources to market to get deposits or do you wait for deposits then market to get more customers? Whichever approach is taken, it must be done with resolute commitment to increasing the AABCUs deposit hold within our communities.  It baffles me the number of AABCUs who are not even on social media. Are you kidding me? It is FREE. If AABCUs created internships for HBCU marketing and communication majors each semester they could have a millennial team of four or five students rotating every three to four months. And while many do not like them, I would hire club promoters and street teams to get the word out. Incentivize the community to become your word of mouth advertising in exchange for perks. In an interview I did with Donna Shuler, co-founder of Answer Title in Washington D.C. and former bank CEO, she said, “More community outreach starting when students are still in school. Banks and agents should use more images of African Americans in their marketing.” One thing that continues to plague African American organizations and firms is the copycat complex that ignores cultural differences between the way our community consumes products and services and the way other communities do. We do this despite Nielsen, an American global information and measurement company, having an entire site dedicated to the African American consumer trends and behavior.

We also have to stop being afraid to use what in hip-hop is known as “beef” with our counterparts. This is a competition after all. My marketing campaign would go something like this – “You know who has NOT  been fined for predatory practices against African Americans – (insert AABCU name).” Or I would have a list of the non-AABCUs who have been fined for their practices against our community and call it a public service announcement. People love a good guy, bad guy scenario. A mentor always said to me once to use what you have. Whatever it is that draws people to you – use it. In AABCUs case, it is using what the others have done to our community to your advantage of getting those deposits to switch institutions. It is also being more engaged in community activities where you can have the captive attention to get financial literacy and marketing message out.

African Americans continue to lose ground in wealth accumulation, our communities and neighborhoods continue to be at risk of gentrification because of lack of development and access to capital, and these are all a reflection of a weak banking system. We know what happened to Harlem and what is happening to places like Third Ward in Houston  among other places. This latest behavior by the non-AABCUs is just a long list of a wedge that AABCUs should be using to distinguish themselves among their core consumer demographic. They have given more than an inch to exploit and it is time we take the mile.

2015 HBCU-Based Credit Unions: Alabama A&M’s Councill Credit Union Leads A Weak Pack


Opportunity has power over all things. – Sophocles

CFCU

(Pictured Above: Councill Federal Credit Union at Alabama A&M University)

The release of the second annual HBCU Money African American Credit Union Directory allowed us to uncover two more HBCU-based credit unions. A total of eleven HBCU-based credit unions that control a combined $87 million in assets and have 17 099 in members. For comparison, Navy Federal Credit Union, America’s largest credit union has $63.7 billion in assets and 5.3 million members. Three years ago, I wrote on what forming a national HBCU credit union would look like and why it should be a reality. As it turns out, much of the infrastructure for this reality is already in place. Now the question is, what is holding us back?

  1. Southern Teachers & Parents (LA) – $28 million ($29 million)
  2. Florida A&M University (FL) – $19.6 million ($20.6 million)
  3. Howard University Employees (DC) – $11.3 million ($11.4 million)
  4. Virginia State University (VA) – $9.6 million ($10.6 million)
  5. Prairie View (TX) – $4.8 million ($5 million)
  6. Savastate Teachers (GA) – $3.6 million ($3.6 million)
  7. Councill (AL) – $3.4 million ($3.1 million)
  8. Xavier University (LA) – $2.4 million (N/A)
  9. Arkansas A&M College (AR) – $2.3 million (N/A)
  10. Tennessee State University (TN) – $1.4 million ($1.4 million)
  11. Shaw University (NC) – $0.5 million ($0.5 million)

If the eleven merged it would the eleventh largest credit union by assets and by members, and would be only the second African American financial institution with a national footprint. The other being OneUnited Bank, which covers Massachusetts, Florida, and California.The lack of products at HBCU-based credit unions continues to be a chief complaint of why so little deposits seem to remain in them. Everything from better web-presence, mobile banking, investment products, and small business loans could be rolled out in scale if the eleven merged.

Instead, six of the nine HBCU-based credit unions we reported from last year saw their assets drop. Median and average assets fell 1.7 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively among last year’s group of nine. In terms of membership, membership also declined in six of the nine HBCU-based credit unions as well. Membership overall fared into the red with median and average membership down 2.3 percent and 6.3 percent, respectively. Two trends you want to desperately avoid if you are any institution. The best performer was Councill Credit Union at Alabama A&M University who saw an increase of 8.5 percent in assets, this despite the second worse drop among the group in membership decline with a 17 percent drop. Tennessee State University’s Credit Union had the largest increase in membership with a 6.3 percent increase from 2014. However, it only resulted a 1.7 percent increase in assets. One of only three HBCU-based credit unions to see an increase of any sort in assets from the previous year so I guess the cup is half full if you want to see it as such.

Unfortunately, there also seems to be no urgency by these credit unions to do the things necessary to increase their membership and assets. Students entering into HBCUs today may be more financially illiterate than a generation ago, but they have more complex financial needs thanks in large part to student loans playing such a large role into today’s higher education finance. Not to mention the reduced role that social security will play in their long-term retirement planning. An issue that should be prompting more HBCU-based credit unions to find ways to help students reduce student loan debt and start retirement planning while in college. A hard task to give this group given the limited financial products and services they offer leave HBCU-based credit unions minute opportunity to serve the needs of students, faculty, campus organizations, or even the HBCUs themselves. These limited products and services are largely an issue of lacking scale. Instead of a credit union with at least $87 million in assets, the median is $3.6 million amongst eleven with declining assets and membership. Instead of students, faculty, and institutions who travel more today than ever to conferences, tournaments, etc. being able to access their money at one of the eleven branches or through mobile app banking along the way, they are limited to just one insular branch with technology that at best reminds you of AOL dial-up. Holding onto students is even more difficult with most returning to their hometowns or nearest major city upon graduation and only returning to the campus at most once a year for homecoming. Incentive to keep banking beyond graduation? None.

Lauryn Hill has a wonderful song called the Ex-Factor that I think often describes African America institutional strategic behavior and with HBCU-based credit unions it seems no different. “It could all be so simple, but you’d rather make it hard. Loving you is like a battle and we both end up with scars.” I still believe with the right vision, an HBCU credit union could rival the Navy Federal Credit Union and give African America a place of financial safety instead of the scars we constantly end up with from predatory financial services that come into communities because we are left with such meager choices from our own financial institutions. It really all could be so simple, but more than likely we will continue to make it hard.

Two African American Banks Fail To Begin 2015


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The African American banking system suffers major setbacks to begin the year. Highland Community Bank (press release below) which had assets of approximately $73.4 million 2013. The bank was founded November 09, 1970 in Chicago, Illinois. Over the past two years it witnessed double digit asset declines on its books.

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Also seeing its doors close is Capital City Bank & Trust Company in Atlanta, Georgia. Capitol City, was the ninth largest African American owned bank, with $291 million in assets or 5.7 percent of African American bank owned assets. The bank was only 20 years old, meaning it had seen explosive growth in its short time.

These two closures reduce the number of African American owned banks down to 23 ahead of the HBCU Money’s 2015 African American Bank Owned Directory release, and a combined loss of 7.2 percent of African American bank owned assets. For perspective in 1994, there were 54 African American owned banks.

For the FDIC’s Failed Bank List click here.