Truliant expands into Lake Norman; a Cornelius branch is coming soon

Truliant expands into Lake Norman; a Cornelius branch is coming soon

By Katie Piccirillo Sherman. The new 3,875 square foot Truliant branch in Huntersville is part of a 10-branch expansion that will bring 120 jobs to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area and cost the Winston-Salem based credit union $11 million.

“When the recession hit, a couple of credit unions exited the area,” Truliant Federal CEO Marc Schaefer explained. “In addition, two other credit unions started an expansion into this area and decided not to proceed. In general, every financial center from Wells (Fargo) to community banks was significantly impacted.”

Truliant saw an opportunity and seized it.

“Because we were so focused on our clients and helping them make positive financial decisions, we didn’t have some of the hiccups that other lenders were having (during the financial crisis),” Schaefer said. “We’re not growing for growth’s sake. We believe Truliant has an obligation to provide affordable financial services to our customers in the area.”

Credit unions and banks are not necessarily at odds, but they’re not buddy-buddy either. Credit unions are nonprofit, tax-exempt organizations that return surplus to members in the form of dividends. While commercial loans are the sweet spot for most banks, not so credit unions.

Indeed, the Independent Community Bankers of America has just expressed “strong opposition” to the National Credit Union Administration board’s plan to relax business-lending rules for tax-exempt credit unions.

In a comment letter, ICBA wrote that the proposed rule to expand lending authority while relaxing regulatory oversight would jeopardize the safety and soundness of federally insured credit unions and “place undue risk” on taxpayers.

“Member business lending is a highly contentious issue which has been debated in Congress for more than a decade,” ICBA wrote. “The NCUA should not be permitted to end-run Congress with a proposal to significantly expand member business lending and other forms of credit union commercial lending and discard or weaken critical prudential safeguards.

The North Carolina Bankers Association declined to comment on Truliant’s expansion and what it means.

Schaefer said the Huntersville branch has an open design, Wi-Fi access and teller pods for more personal interactions. A children’s area allows parents to talk without distractions.

“We didn’t want barriers between us and the consumer,” Schaefer said. “It’s all about the experience and the conversation. Our clients want to engage with someone. They have done research but they want our expertise on what’s best for their family.”

Truliant is opening a total of 10 Charlotte area locations by the end of 2016, including Mallard Creek and Cornelius areas. A Harrisburg location, in the School House Commons Shopping Center, has already opened.

Truliant will open late this year in Antiquity Town Center in Cornelius.


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