TUKWILA, Wash.—The $18.6-billion BECU has asked the state regulator to approve language that would allow it to keep the BECU name should it convert to a cooperative savings bank charter.
Linda Jekel, director of credit unions at the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions, confirmed to CUToday.info that BECU has asked for language to be added to the state’s banking laws that would allow it to continue operating as BECU–an abbreviation for its official name, Boeing Employees Credit Union–even if it no longer is a credit union and instead a bank.
“BECU is on a task force for the Bank Modernization Act project here in Washington,” Jekel said. “One thing BECU would like to see, under the mutual bank charter, is an option to have a cooperative bank charter. And they asked that if they decide to do a cooperative bank charter could they keep their name.”
According to Jekel, under Washington’s law a cooperative bank would operate under regulations for mutual organizations, but the 1.1-million member credit union would be permitted to refer to its charter as a cooperative bank charter.
“There have not been any final decisions on this matter,” she said.
Jekel noted that concerns have been raised in Washington that if BECU retains its name the letters “CU” would continue to imply it is a credit union. Jekel said the Northwest Credit Union Association, which is represented on the task force, is concerned consumers would be confused over whether BECU is a bank or a credit union if it moved to a cooperative bank charter.
“It would then be a bank, of course,” she said.
Jekel emphasized that changes, if any are made, are not imminent.
“This is a long process,” she said. “The Bank Modernization Task Force is looking at all the banking laws,” Jekel said. “They meet once a month for the entire year, so more meetings are ahead. I don’t think draft legislation will be ready until 2020.”
BECU responded to CUToday.info saying it has no plans to change to a bank charter. See the story here.
The credit union was chartered in 1935 with $9 to serve employees of the Boeing Co. The aircraft manufacturer is an enormous employer in the Pacific Northwest, and around the world, and an icon in the region.
BECU is also among the best-known credit union brands in the Pacific Northwest (it also has branches in Spokane, Wash. and South Carolina). The credit union, which employs approximately 2,000 employees, has built a significant advertising campaign around the theme “BECU Own It.”