Stable Rankings Belie a Changing Industry

Industry ReportThis week’s NJBIZ list of credit unions places the spotlight on some of the largest credit unions in the state. New Jersey-based credit unions tend to be the paragons of consistency with few being dropped or added to the list. This year’s top 25 continues that tradition, with 22 of the top 25 returning from last year.

The three credit unions joining NJBIZ’s Top 25 for the first time include Novartis FCU at 22, Self Reliance NJ FCU at 24 and County Educators FCU at 25.

The state’s 50 credit unions were surveyed Sept. 22 to Oct. 15 to come up with NJBIZ’s Top 25 list for 2006. The list is ranked based upon the total dollar assets of each credit union.

Topping the list again this year is Affinity FCU of Basking Ridge, with $1.4 billion in assets compared with $1.3 billion in assets last year. The 118,136-member credit union’s collective assets eclipse all other credit unions in the state by nearly $1 billion.

Proponent FCU of Nutley climbed to No. 2 from the No. 4 slot this year with $382,299,246 in assets. Paragon of Montvale retained its No. 3 position, posting assets of $377,136,078.

There are three newcomers. County Educators FCU, ranked No. 25, with $81,030,267 in assets. Based in Clark, the teacher-based credit union, founded in 1935, boasts 15,275 members. Clifton-based Self Reliance NJ FCU ranks No. 24, with $81,030,267 in assets. Chartered in 1959, Self Reliance has 4,153 registered members. Drug manufacturer Novartis’ FCU jumped seven slots this year (to 22 from 29) with assets of $83,050,071, compared with $74,501,816 a year ago. Novartis, in East Hanover, boasts 6,734 members.

While the state’s credit-union ranks exemplify consistency, their stability is in contrast with deeper changes within the credit-union industry.

Originally chartered with a mandate to provide for people of modest means and launched with a tax-exempt status, credit unions both nationally and in New Jersey are quietly morphing into a different monetary organism.

A growing number of credit unions are starting to offer a full range of financial products and services, including trust- and asset-management services, investment products, auto loans, credit cards, home mortgages and even small-business loans. Outside the Garden State, some credit unions in states as disparate as California and Texas are starting to offer security sales, real estate brokerage and insurance services.

In other words, it’s not your father and mother’s credit union anymore.

E-mail to jmcconville@njbiz.com

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