CWA credit union to merge with Island Federal

Island Federal president and CEO Bret W. Sears Island Federal president and CEO Bret W. Sears says CWA credit union members should be fully converted to Island by September. (Dec. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

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CWA Long Island Federal Credit Union will merge with Island Federal Credit Union, officials announced Wednesday.

CWA members will automatically become members of Hauppauge-based Island Federal when the deal closes June 30.

Officials said the merger will provide CWA's 4,200 members with access to more products, services and locations.

Island Federal, with 30,000 members and $909.8 million in assets, has locations in Hauppauge, Bellmore, Hicksville, Riverhead, Sayville and Selden.

Ronkonkoma-based CWALIFCU has $17 million in assets.

"After a long search and consideration of a number of potential partners for the CWALIFCU, we knew that a merger with Island Federal Credit Union was the best option," said Bill McClane, general manager of CWALIFCU.

The merger "is probably a very good thing for the members of the smaller credit union," said Alan Theriault, president of CU Financial Services, a Portland, Maine-based consulting firm for credit unions. "There's going to be a dramatic improvement in services."

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Bret W. Sears, Island Federal president and CEO, said: "We anticipate that all CWALIFCU accounts will be fully converted to Island by September. In the meantime, we have already lowered their fees to match those at Island. We are happy to report that only days after the merger was announced, a number of CWALIFCU members have applied for new loans and mortgages at Island."

Pressured by rules and regulations and increased technological costs, smaller credit unions often can't generate enough revenue and are disappearing at the rate of 30 per month, Theriault said. A credit union with $17 million in assets "would've had to find a home fast."

He said larger credit unions now represent 80 percent of the market.

In December 2011, when Sears first took his position as Island Federal's first new president and chief executive in 34 years, he mentioned his biggest obstacle was finding locations for new branches that are "just the right size," zoned correctly and able to accommodate drive-thru banking.

But Island Federal officials said the CWA merger was "not for real estate reasons, but for their field of membership."

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