GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Two Michigan-based credit unions took the first big step in merging their organizations Wednesday, a merger that will go down in financial history.
Lake Michigan Credit Union based in Grand Rapids and United Federal Credit Union based in St. Joseph will be combining forces sometime by the year’s end. That marriage will represent the largest merger in the history of credit unions, and it has top executives elated.
“It just opens up the pursuit of scale and economy that just speaks to greater value to more and more members,” said Gary Easterling, CEO of United Federal, “and both of us, Lake Michigan Credit Union and United Federal Credit Union, one thing we share is a passion for our members.”
The scope of the merger will be measured in assets. The two will combine for $6 billion in total assets on top of $8 billion in serviced mortgages. With 1,400 employees combined, neither company will make personnel cuts at any level nor any changes in management. On top of that, they will bring together half a million members, making the new combined credit union the 19th largest in the U.S.
But when it comes to differences in services, officials say members won’t notice a difference.
“We will be serving 500,000 members, which is huge,” said Lake Michigan Credit Union CEO Sandra Jelinski. “Nothing will change other than additional products and services that we provide by coming together.”
Both parties will now have to seek regulatory approval in what’s known as the definitive phase. Assuming that all goes through, United Federal will take the merger to its board of directors before switching their charter over from federal to state.