60th Anniversary Celebration and Annual Meeting
2021 Annual Report
Chung Bothwell, JD, LLM
Chairman of the Board
“Your mind shine brightest when you enlighten others; your heart, when you encourage others; your soul, when you elevate others; and your life, when you empower others.”
—Matshona Dhliwayo, Canadian-based philosopher, entrepreneur and author
Throughout its history, our credit union's success has been driven by a guiding principle to improve the financial health of our members and strengthen the well-being of the communities we serve. As we mark 65 years of service, UNCLE celebrates tremendous achievements as a trusted financial partner and a leading contributor to the community at large. Anchored firmly in a shared purpose, we are continuing to expand our capacity to elevate the financial lives of our members at each new milestone.
The financial institution we now know as UNCLE Credit Union is rooted in the University of California’s Radiation Lab at Livermore, later to become the research and development institute known as Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. In 1957, four physicists employed by the Lab combined financial resources to form Radiation Laboratory Livermore Credit Union. As we grew in size and financial strength, we broadened our charter and extended our branch network, while expanding our offerings to include an evolving array of competitive financial solutions. In 1988, the financial cooperative was renamed UNCLE Credit Union, which honored our legacy as a shortened form of “University of California Livermore Employees Credit Union.”
Today, UNCLE Credit Union offers the benefits of credit union membership to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. With two strategic mergers in Stockton in 2018, we positioned UNCLE to better serve the needs of eligible members in this key area of our membership field and contributed to the revitalization of the city and its surrounding communities. Expanding our footprint in the Central Valley also contributed to our membership growth to approximately 31,000, as have our consistently high level of community engagement where we do business, and recognition of the value we provide among our members and industry peers who trust in the safety and soundness of our credit union. Moreover, our organization is widely respected for a culture that celebrates the contributions of those from diverse backgrounds and perspectives. We’re proud to have a membership and workforce that spans across the many differences that make each of us unique. In short, we strive to ensure our credit union reflects the communities we serve.
In 2021, we closed out the year with $635.9 million in assets, driving steadily ahead with our strategic plan to surpass $1 billion in assets after having crossed the $500 million threshold in early 2020. Financial service providers today face persistent challenges, from heightened cybersecurity threats and fraud, to regulatory burdens and the need to meet the escalating pace of change in financial technology. Attaining a healthy level of well-managed growth provides us with the capital and financial resources to sustain our credit union in this intensely competitive and fast-evolving landscape. As we grow our revenue streams and spread our expenses over a larger membership base, we operate with greater cost efficiencies so that more of our income is reinvested in the credit union to benefit you, our members.
While traditional banks create profits for distribution to their stockholders, UNCLE leverages our collective resources to create earnings that are returned to members in the form of significantly reduced fees, lower-cost loans and competitive rates on savings products. In addition, our continual investment in infrastructure, technology and talent enables us to focus on delivering an enhanced banking experience with an emphasis on convenience, personalized service and financial education.
The second year of a global pandemic and its disruptions to daily life rhythms failed to deter us in our mission to build enduring member value and deliver a superior level of service as we attained new levels of financial strength and growth in 2021. Throughout the unpredictability of the year, our staff, management and board worked together diligently to provide a friction-free and member-focused banking experience while remaining proactive, flexible and responsive to rapid shifts in protocols to protect the health and safety of all. We are incredibly proud of our team’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic under the leadership of our President and CEO, Harold Roundtree, who showed up daily to support our dedicated in-branch staff and to ensure continuity in service.
In our ongoing effort to enhance the financial lives of our members, our credit union is committed to delivering accessible financial education and innovative tools to help members reach important life goals and protect their future security. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic turbulence experienced in 2020 and 2021 have only underscored the importance of preparing and planning for uncertain times. Under our growing Wealth Management Division, we’ve expanded our free seminars and workshops across a range of topics that address these issues, from estate planning and long-term care, to investing basics and ROTH IRAs. We strongly encourage our members to take advantage of these valuable offerings, many of which have been made available on our financial education blog and shared through our communication channels.
In spring of 2021, we completed a major upgrade to our technology infrastructure with the successful launch of a state-of-the-art digital banking platform through a partnership with Alkami Technology, Inc. Fast, intuitive and highly secure, the new platform allows for easy and convenient completion of everyday banking activities, as well as an effective way for members to manage their finances from a holistic perspective. A user-friendly interface synchronized across all devices enables users to quickly access all of their financial accounts under a single login. In addition, features like customized notifications, credit monitoring and educational content can provide members important insight into their financial health, and practical steps they can take to improve it.
As a multiple award-winning organization, UNCLE has earned distinction among our industry and our communities for excellence in service, value, culture, leadership, philanthropy, and financial strength and performance. We are grateful and humbled by this recognition and endeavor to consistently meet and exceed expectations as an organization worthy of this acclaim. For the fourth consecutive year in 2021, we were named “Best in East Bay” for credit unions by readers of the East Bay Times. And after only four years with a branch presence in Stockton, we were thrilled to have won the title of “Best Credit Union in San Joaquin” by The Record, the daily newspaper serving Stockton and the surrounding areas. Also in 2021, the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce honored our credit union as the winner of the “Business Philanthropy” award at its 57th Annual Community Service Awards ceremony.
Since its inception, your credit union has been a leading contributor to many of the worthy causes and vital services that are improving and enriching quality of life in the communities we serve. Each year, every organizational level at UNCLE works together toward community-focused goals — hosting and sponsoring local events, making regular contributions to local nonprofits, teaming up on charitable fundraisers, and spearheading impactful initiatives including efforts to promote financial literacy and smart money management. Among the highlights of our philanthropic endowments in 2021 was our $10,000 donation to the Livermore Lab Foundation, an organization we have supported since it was established in 2017, and one that shares our vision of the critical role that science and technology have in creating a better world for ourselves and future generations.
In reflecting on our 65 years of service, we celebrate the legacy of mutual assistance and shared purpose that have empowered our credit union to prosper and thrive for the benefit of our members and our communities. In an extraordinary year of an ongoing global crisis, UNCLE Credit Union took powerful strides forward along a steady course to build member value through sustainable growth and long-term organizational health. On behalf of UNCLE Credit Union’s Board of Directors, thank you for your confidence and trust as we rise to new levels of financial strength and greater opportunities together.
Chung Bothwell, JD, LLM
Chairman, Board of Directors
President and CEO
“Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
—Albert Einstein, German-born theoretical physicist, mathematician and universally acclaimed Nobel prize winner
In a tumultuous time when many financial institutions struggled to get their footing, your credit union experienced an outstanding year of accomplishments, strong financial performance and growth. Through the cooperative efforts of our staff, executive team and board, UNCLE delivered exceptional results for our members in our mission to elevate their financial well-being and support them in meeting important life goals. As we surpassed critical targets of our strategic vision, we expanded our financial products, enhanced our technology infrastructure, and introduced exciting new tools and rewarding programs aimed at helping our members prosper and thrive.
Key indicators across our 2021 corporate metrics underscore a financial institution on a steady course of robust growth supported by healthy earnings. We ended the year with $635.9 million in assets and 1,942 new net members — achieving a double-digit percentage increase in assets for the ninth consecutive year, and significantly exceeding our goals for year-over-year membership growth. Despite the restrictions and economic volatility resulting from the ongoing pandemic, our solid loan production and net worth ratio demonstrate effective use of our assets to create value for our members, and the financial strength to navigate any adverse conditions in the economy. Another highlight of our 2021 financial performance was our operating expenses to average assets ratio of 3.32%, which beat our goal of 4%, and attests to our ability to manage expenses to help generate strong returns and attain the capital and resources to invest strategically in our future. In addition, an efficiency ratio of 81.69% reflects a favorable trajectory toward achieving economies of scale.
UNCLE marked several major milestones in 2021 with expansion in key areas of lending as well as our investment and financial planning services, even as the economy struggled to recover from the impact of COVID-19. We produced a record volume of auto loans with financing arranged at the point of sale, by assisting members with highly competitive rates and terms for both new and pre-owned vehicles. With inventory low and prices on vehicles relatively high, affordable financing was key to getting many members into the vehicle they wanted at the right price. In this landmark year leading up to our 65th anniversary, UNCLE launched a suite of small business solutions including auto loans, a new credit card and a business line of credit. Shortly after, we inked our first organic commercial loan within our Business Banking Division. For our business banking members who suffered a loss of income resulting from pandemic restrictions, we provided over $2 million in loan advancements through our active participation in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program. Stellar performance by our Wealth Management team and trust in their solid expertise also grew this division by 14% to $35.2 million in assets under management by year’s end. Furthermore, we established a new channel to mitigate real estate concentration risk by partnering with the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation in 2021. We sold seven loans to Freddie Mac totaling $2.5 million for a net profit of $50.7K.
Over the course of the year, we rolled out a series of upgrades to our technology and financial solutions with a focus on convenience and educational resources aimed at helping members become highly informed consumers.
In April, we delivered a new and enhanced digital banking experience with the conversion to Alkami Technology’s award-winning platform. Built for security and speed, the new platform enables members to view their complete financial picture in one place and streamline their banking activities by accessing multiple accounts under a single login. Nearly all banking tasks can be completed via a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. Another important advantage is a highly scalable architecture which will allow for improved efficiencies across our organization as UNCLE’s membership continues to grow.
An additional enhancement included an updated, real-time comprehensive credit score analysis tool that provides customized insights to help members manage their spending and make healthier financial decisions. Later in the year, we introduced a new payment system that is a customizable billing and loan payment solution, providing greater convenience with the flexibility to choose various options for making quick, secure payments.
As we continued to take critical measures to protect the financial health and safety of our members and our staff, we made significant operational improvements and introduced innovative and engaging new ways for members to interact with us, and better manage their finances. We began issuing our contactless debit and credit cards in September for a faster, more sanitary, and highly secure shopping experience. To help with new member onboarding, our marketing department began providing online video tutorials on our digital banking features such as mobile eDeposit, SavvyMoney, and the UNCLE Credit Union app. Our team also produced our first sweepstakes campaign in 2021. Dubbed “Summer Fun Swipes”, the contest enabled members to begin redeeming their Kasasa rewards points after only 12 swipes instead of the 15 originally required.
The gains we made in 2021 have provided a springboard to greater opportunities as we celebrate UNCLE Credit Union’s 65th Anniversary with our loyal members in 2022. Along with special events to commemorate this milestone, we look forward to introducing several exciting initiatives and new offerings over the course of the year. Some of these include:
- Opportunities to earn bonus points on credit card rewards for our 65th anniversary
- Limited-time, special promotional rates on our personal loans and certificates of deposit
- Digital issuance of credit and debit cards to maintain uninterrupted service if a card is lost or stolen. This new feature will enable members to use this digital card with their account before the physical card arrives (e.g., it can be linked with mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, etc.)
- Launch of peer-to-peer money transfer service, Zelle by mid-2022
- Transition to the new business intelligence platform Power BI to empower our credit union with additional information needed to make decisions that best reflect the changing needs of our members.
In my role as President/CEO of UNCLE Credit Union, I have the ongoing privilege of working with a highly capable and committed team who consistently deliver a superior level of service and value to our members. The contributions of this extraordinary group of individuals and the unique culture that we share continue to earn UNCLE recognition as a premier provider and a vital resource in the communities we serve. As we celebrate 65 years of service, we are ever mindful that you, our loyal members, are the foundation of our success. Thank you for choosing us as your trusted financial partner as we move forward with strong momentum toward another exceptional year in 2022.
President and CEO