On November 24, 1908, the first credit union opened its doors in Manchester New Hampshire. The brainchild of a local pastor of Sainte-Marie’s parish, St. Mary’s Bank Credit Union (as it is known today) was a way to help local mill workers to save and borrow money. For a $5 investment (the price of one share of capital stock) anyone in the community could join.
That $5 initial investment may be the only thing that hasn’t changed in the 106 years since. Today, ****St. Mary’s Bank Credit Union boasts $772 million in assets, 87,000 members and 200 employees. In addition to attractive rates and low fees, it offers a wide range of banking and financial services. It is one of many success stories in the credit union industry; but it is far from the only one.
Page 7 this week lists the top 50 U.S. credit unions by asset size. As of December 31, 2013, assets at these 50 institutions totaled $319 billion or 30% of total industry assets. Most are also very well-rated by BauerFinancial (5-Stars or 4-Stars). Credit unions, unlike banks, seem to fare better as they get larger. But then, the largest credit unions are no where near the size of the $ trillion banks. In fact, even with industry assets growing by $40 billion in 2013, there are only 426 credit unions with total assets in excess of $500 million.
At just 6.5% of the total number of credit unions, these institutions hold 67% of all industry assets. They are also the most profitable with a 0.93% return on average assets and they have more growth in membership, loans and net worth than smaller credit unions.
The charts on page 2 detail how different asset segments fared with year-end 2013 financial data.