Home Diocesan News Members – not stockholders – benefit when these financial institutions succeed
Members – not stockholders – benefit when these financial institutions succeed Print E-mail
Written by Louise McNulty, Special to the Exponent   
Friday, 09 March 2018 14:54

At a time when most people feel they have less and less control over things that affect their lives, it’s nice to know that in some areas there are choices.

In banking, for instance, there are options for people to become part of an institution instead of just a customer – by joining a credit union.

The Exponent recently talked with executives at three Catholic-based credit unions that operate in the diocese. And their comments are worth passing on.

Some people are only vaguely aware of how banks and credit unions differ, so Cari Huthmacher, the chief executive officer (CEO) at St. Joseph’s Federal Credit Union (STJFCU), Canton, outlined the main difference.

“Banks are for-profit institutions and their goal is to make money for the stockholders of the company. A credit union is a not-for-profit entity, and their goal is to pass the profits on to the members. This comes in the form of added member benefits such as low fees and low rates.”

Huthmacher, herself a member (as are all STJFCU employees), has worked for 11 years at St. Joseph’s, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. She said with “over $50 million in assets and over 6,700 member-owners” the credit union is strong, with offices in Canton and Louisville, as well as “a virtual branch” online which enables people to take advantage of all the credit union’s services without visiting a physical branch.

Mike Wisnor, vice president of Marketing and Mission at Ohio Catholic Federal Credit Union (OCFCU), noted that people must “qualify for membership” in credit unions. That may mean a connection to a particular church, group or community. For his credit union the connection is the Catholic Church. “Our values are your values and we view [our work] as a financial ministry … and when we make contributions, all causes we donate to are consistent with Catholic values.”

OCFCU puts its money where its mouth is. Wisnor explained, “Ten percent of our net income is tithed to Catholic organizations and ones that support Catholic principles and teachings.” That amounts to quite a lot, considering, according to its website, the 64-year-old Ohio Catholic is the largest faith-based, full-service credit union in Ohio and the fourth largest in the nation, with $166 million in assets. Its member-employees serve their 13,800 fellow members at branches in several Ohio cities – Garfield Heights, Macedonia, Akron, North Royalton – and an e-branch, which, Wisnor noted, “is how we serve members in the Youngstown area.”

Jim Bellavia, chief financial officer (CFO) of DOY Federal Credit Union (DOYFCU) located in Youngstown, said that, in a cooperative, people must have a common bond. “We know who our members are and they know each other,” he added. The link they have with one another is the Diocese of Youngstown. He emphasized that the credit union is not affiliated in any way with the diocese, except to define its field of membership. “Members are diocesan employees, families of students in its schools, parishioners and people who work at a Catholic agency in the diocese.”

With a single office on Gypsy Lane in Youngstown, DOYFCU may seem relatively small. While St. Joseph and Ohio Catholic are full service credit unions – which Huthmacher and Wisnor described as institutions that offer all the services banks do – DOY focuses basically on saving and borrowing, which includes saving and checking accounts, mortgages and loans – even a low-interest tuition loan program for parents of children in diocesan elementary and high schools.

So while DOY may seem small in some ways, it has been operating for 47 years and boasts 4,500 members and assets of $50 million.

Bellavia, echoing the institution’s website, said, “We pride ourselves that we are like vanilla ice cream. DOY may not have all the ‘fancy flavored ice creams’ other financial institutions advertise [CDs, IRAs, stock investments, etc.], but one thing is for certain: DOY has the best ‘vanilla ice cream.’”

Here are a few things to keep in mind for anyone considering moving some or all of their financial business to a credit union:

$ Credit unions are federally regulated by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), just as the FDIC regulates banks.

$ Credit union accounts are federally insured (by the NCUA) up to $250,000.

$ Profits earned by credit unions benefit members, not stockholders, and generally come back to them in lower fees and interest rates.

$ All employees of the credit unions featured are members themselves with a vested interest in their success.

$ In a credit union, each member-owner has a vote.

And finally, when you call a Catholic-based credit union, it’s not all that unusual to hear a “God bless” at the end of a phone call.


Church Budget Envelope & Mailing Co.

Please update your Flash Player to view content.
You need to install Adobe Flash Player to view ads.
Please update your Flash Player to view content.