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Sunday, Jun 16, 2024

OC’s Credit Unions Outpacing Banks in Asset Growth

Orange County’s credit unions are growing their assets at a far faster pace than the county’s for-profit banks.

The 17 credit unions on the Business Journal’s annual list reported assets climbed 16% to $38.3 billion. That compares with banks increasing assets 3% to $38.8 billion (see story, page 26).

It’s not a one-off either. A year ago, the credit unions grew their assets 26%.

Annual growth for the local credit union industry was mostly in the single digits in the decade after the 2008 financial crisis.

This year, 15 of the 17 credit unions reported an increase in assets from the prior year, including 10 by more than 10%.

No. 1 SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union of Tustin had the biggest increase in dollar terms with a $4.25 billion boost to $25.9 billion, up 20% year-over-year. A year ago, its assets climbed 35%.

“Our members’ willingness to share the benefits of membership with their family and colleagues has afforded us the growth and the ability to help more school employees and their families have the financial security they deserve,” SchoolsFirst Chief Executive Bill Cheney told the Business Journal. “Our growth allows us to help all members with highly competitive products and services, many with no to low fees from everyday payments, to buying a home and planning for a comfortable retirement.”

SchoolsFirst accounts for 68% of ranked firms’ assets, compared with 61% two years ago.

SchoolsFirst has more assets than Irvine-based Pacific Premier Bank, the largest commercial bank headquartered in OC, with $20.5 billion in assets as of June 30.

Net Income Up 

The list ranks the 17 OC-based member-owned credit unions by assets. The list also includes their net incomes, local employment and branches in operation, though those metrics don’t factor into the rankings.

All the credit unions on the list kept the same ranking as last year’s.

The credit unions reported net income increased 18% to $120.5 million for the first half ended June 30.

Employment at credit unions was down 1.2% with 2,796 employees.

The firms reported OC memberships were flat at 732,200.

They increased their branch count by one to 67.

SchoolsFirst had by far the most branches, with 20, followed by 10 at No. 3 Orange County’s Credit Union and seven at Credit Union of Southern California.

Santa Ana has the most credit union headquarters on our list, with three, followed by Huntington Beach with two. Irvine, which has the most bank headquarters at eight, has no credit unions on this week’s list inside its city limits.


• SchoolsFirst reported net income of $80.4 million, slightly down for the first six months of 2020 compared to the same period a year ago. Its OC employment was estimated flat at 1,460 and its memberships remained flat at 452,160.

• Nuvision Federal Credit Union in Huntington Beach placed No. 2 by growing its assets 8.3% to $2.8 billion. Its first half net income climbed tenfold to $12.2 million from $1.9 million a year earlier.

• No. 3 Orange County’s Credit Union in Santa Ana boosted assets by 14% to $2.3 billion. Its net income fell to $4 million from $5.1 million a year ago. The credit union employs 322 locally, down 5.6%, and has 121,539, members, up 3%.

• No. 4, Credit Union of Southern California in Anaheim, grew assets 16% to $2.2 billion. The institution said net income climbed to $12.3 million from $9.2 million a year ago. It has 28,151 members in Orange County, a 2.9% increase from a year ago.

• LBS Financial Credit Union, which debuted on the 2019 list when it moved from Long Beach to Westminster, ranked No. 5. It was originally founded in 1935 as Long Beach School District Employees Federal Credit Union.

LBS’ assets climbed 15% to $1.9 billion. It reported $5.4 million in net income, up from $4 million a year earlier. It has 163 employees and 10,730 members in Orange County.


• The fastest grower was No. 17 Fountain Valley Credit Union, which saw a 37% rise to $2.8 million. It only has one employee and 220 members.

•  The biggest decliner was Evangelical Christian Credit Union of Brea, which fell 15.6% to $618.8 million. 

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Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan has been a journalist for 40 years. He spent a decade in Latin America covering wars, narcotic traffickers, earthquakes, and business. His resume includes 15 years at Bloomberg News where his headlines and articles sometimes moved the market caps of companies he covered by hundreds of millions of dollars. His articles have been published worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post; he's appeared on CNN, CBC, BBC, and Bloomberg TV. He was awarded a Kiplinger Fellowship at The Ohio State University.

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