by John J. Dwyer, Jr & Arthur G Woolf As the President and Chief Executive Officer and Board Chair of New England Federal Credit Union (NEFCU), we believe that our members, staff, and the communities we serve should fully understand the value of the merger with Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU). It is also important to clarify why it is in the best interest of these constituents and each credit union, as well as for Vermont, to support the merger. Voting on the proposed merger begins today.
The priorities of both VSECU and NEFCU are to serve the financial well-being of their members with relevant and fair-priced financial services, to offer strong employment options, and to give back to Vermont communities and constituents.
Rapidly Evolving Vermont Financial Services Landscape
The banking industry is consolidating rapidly because costs are going up and income is under pressure. Many local Vermont banks have been acquired by large out-of-state banks in the past decade, including well-known brands like the Chittenden Bank/Peoples United, Merchants, BankNorth, and others. This trend will continue because larger banks can spread fixed costs over greater asset and customer bases to offer better rates, lower fees, and more delivery options.
NEFCU and VSECU, the two leading credit unions in Vermont, must evolve to effectively compete with out-of-state banks while continuing to provide best products and services to members. This is no small challenge. In a world where consumers’ expectations have risen, competitive rates, in-person, telephone, and multichannel digital services, fast responses, and local representation are requirements.
Small banks and credit unions can offer some of these but face significant challenges offering multiple points of value. When the consumer makes a choice, the local factor is often overlooked. Therefore, the combination of two of the largest Vermont credit unions is very important. By voting for the merger, VSECU members have a onetime opportunity to accomplish two critical goals: maintaining local ownership while gaining scale to better compete with larger, out-of-state financial institutions.
The merger benefits members, staff, both credit unions, and the communities they serve in many specific ways:
- Statewide branch delivery for all members.
- Better rates, terms, and products that each now offers become available to all.
- Greater investment power in future delivery, digital experiences, and remote servicing of loans and deposit accounts.
- Becoming one of Vermont’s leading employers.
That last bullet is especially important. Staffing is a pressing challenge both credit unions face, given that employees can live in-state while working for large, out-of-state companies. Simply put, scale produced by combined resources enhances the ability to attract talented workers.
Representing NEFCU, our number one priority is to maintain the local, affordable, relevant, and trustworthy services members expect and deserve. In addition, we will continue to create meaningful opportunities both for our employees and the communities we serve. The significant time we have spent with VSECU leadership has affirmed that these are also their priorities.
NEFCU and VSECU are robust credit unions with long, rich histories of serving Vermonters. Both have strong balance sheets, proven leaderships, and years of steady, dependable growth. That commitment to members’ financial success has made them the state’s two largest credit unions. Such performance speaks for itself. Now, in this time of great change, voting for the merger will create an even stronger and more dynamic credit union equal to the financial industry’s rapidly evolving challenges.
Arthur G. Woolf, Board Chair
John J. Dwyer, Jr. President, and Chief Executive Officer
New England Federal Credit Union