Chung Bothwell, JD, LLM
Chairman of the Board
“We're building a lifelong relationship with people, and every great relationship has to be built on trust.”
—Angela Ahrendts, American Business Executive
For more than six decades of service, our credit union has prospered and thrived from a solid foundation rooted in a steadfast mission to promote the financial health of our members and enrich the larger community. Driven by a clear vision of this shared purpose, we attained new levels of financial strength and growth in 2019 under our highly capable leadership and staff dedicated to professional integrity and excellence. In accordance with our core principles, each milestone of success we achieve is best defined in terms of its potential to build enduring value for our members and the communities we serve.
As a financial cooperative, our credit union is collectively owned by all of our members. While commercial banks are for-profit enterprises constrained by the need to satisfy outside stakeholders, UNCLE’s unique organizational structure enables us to always put the interests of our members first. Rather than distributing profits to stockholders, our surplus income is reinvested in the credit union to provide our members with competitive rates, significantly reduced fees and an exceptional member experience with a focus on leading edge technology. Our earnings also drive the growth that is necessary to ensure our viability for years to come in an industry facing intense pressures and market volatility.
Steady on our course of sustainable growth, we now hold over $482 million in assets and are more than 28,000 members strong. With strategic growth, we produce healthy returns that enable us to invest in the innovative financial solutions that best support our members’ priorities, lifestyles and financial objectives. In recent years, this has expanded to include a full spectrum of investment and financial planning services that complement our ever-evolving offerings in personal and business banking, consumer loans and mortgage products. Through our partnership with CUSO Financial Services, LP (CFS), UNCLE has developed a Wealth Management Division that combines a strong team of experts with award-winning technology to help individuals and families reach their financial goals.
In today’s environment, delivering an outstanding level of service means making it as easy, convenient and secure as possible to do business with us. To this end, we are continually upgrading every touch point of a member’s banking experience, from our contact center and branches to our digital channels. This includes an ongoing investment in our mobile and online capabilities with expanded functionality, enhanced performance and the most advanced security features. Through strategic partnerships with financial technology firms, we are also adding helpful online financial tools through our mobile banking application. In terms of our branch network, a major new development in 2019 included Saturday hours at our March Lane Financial Center.
To adhere to our commitment to exceptional service, it’s critical that we provide regular opportunities for our members to tell us what they want from their credit union, and what we can improve. One especially useful method for monitoring this is our annual membership survey, conducted in partnership with Raddon Financial Group, Inc. We’re pleased to report that member satisfaction was measured at 95.5 percent in December 2019. In June, we were thrilled to have been named “Best in East Bay” for credit unions by the East Bay Times Readers’ Choice Awards for the second consecutive year. This title is awarded based on polling results from readers of the East Bay Times, the Bay Area News Group’s daily publication serving Contra Costa County and eastern Alameda County. We sincerely thank our members for this recognition, and are humbled by the opportunity to continue to meet and exceed your expectations in the times ahead. As a member, you can also take pride in knowing that your credit union remains highly committed to supporting worthy nonprofits and key initiatives that foster community well-being. Most recently, we learned that we are to be recognized for these efforts with the coveted Business Philanthropy Award from the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.
Attesting to our overall financial health and long-term earnings power, UNCLE attained a 5-Star Superior rating from Bauer Financial in each quarter of 2019. A rating that our credit union has held for 32 consecutive quarters, it is based on financial data obtained directly from federal regulators and other public records. The national source for unbiased bank and credit union ratings, Bauer allows no financial institution to pay for their rating, nor do they provide an option for providers to opt out. As the highest ranking that Bauer assigns, 5 Stars indicates that UNCLE Credit Union is among the strongest credit unions in the nation according to criteria that includes capitalization, earnings, liquidity, historical data, regulatory compliance, loan quality and more. Given the fierce competition among our peers and other financial institutions, we were highly honored to be recognized in this way for our financial strength and security.
One of the most important responsibilities of our credit union’s Board of Directors is to ensure the financial safety and soundness of our credit union. In this capacity, we took careful, deliberate action in our decision to put to a vote of the membership for a resolution to form an Audit Committee in lieu of our Supervisory Committee. After a majority vote in a Special Meeting of the Members on October 24, 2019, we adopted an Audit Committee with oversight responsibility for our credit union’s internal controls and financial reporting. Like our Supervisory Committee, the Audit Committee will ensure compliance with policies and regulations, safeguard our members’ assets, maintain the independent audit process and evaluate risk management for the credit union. However, this new amendment in our bylaws will facilitate due diligence more efficiently by streamlining compliance practices, and avoiding duplication of tasks. The newly named Audit Committee will allow for a more effective response to changing regulations and market trends, so that we may more readily optimize new opportunities that benefit our members.
In a financial climate of intensified competition, increased regulatory burdens and a rapidly accelerating pace of innovation, UNCLE Credit Union remains on solid financial footing along a course of strategic growth. From this strong foundation, we are increasingly empowered in our ability to provide the enhanced financial solutions and resources that help our members build prosperity and long-term security for themselves and their families. We owe this success to the confidence and trust our members continue to place in us, our highly-competent and visionary leadership, and the invaluable contributions of our entire staff. On behalf of the Board of Directors of UNCLE Credit Union, I sincerely thank you.
President and CEO
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
—John F. Kennedy
An organization’s success and leadership can be measured in many ways – in terms of growth, employee engagement and performance. Thanks to leadership at every level of our organization, 2019 was an exceptional year for UNCLE Credit Union. We exceeded our financial, developmental and growth goals set for our institution, a testament to the hard work of our volunteer Board of Directors and employees. We achieved these goals by focusing on making the financial lives of our members fundamentally better.
Financially, we grew our loans by 15 percent, more than double our goal for the year. This marks the seventh year in a row UNCLE has had double-digit loan growth. Additionally, our Mortgage Loan Officers generated more than $80 million in first mortgages – an all-time record for the credit union and tangible proof of our positive community impact. We ranked 376 out of 5,316 U.S. credit unions in first mortgage real estate originations in 2019. This means we rank in the top 7 percent of all credit unions nationwide. Growing the number of UNCLE members is a critical part of our thriving credit union. We were proud to see substantial member growth this year as well – nearly 6 percent.
Of course, we couldn’t have done any of this without an engaged and committed staff, and that attitude starts from within. UNCLE strives to cultivate a positive environment. This means engaging and informing each and every one of our staff members. We focus on giving our employees the tools, training and education they need to best serve our members. This was directly reflected in our 2019 employee engagement rating as well. Our motivated, engaged and knowledgeable employees ensure each of our 28,000 members have the best member experience possible.
With another successful year behind us, we are in the perfect position to transition to an exciting year ahead and beyond.
Our members and staff can expect to see exciting new technology in the near future as well. We recently achieved a huge goal internally by implementing a secure Virtual Desktop Interface for our employees. This puts our software programs on a cloud platform, thus better protecting our members’ data and providing more consistency. This was an 18-month undertaking, and we are excited to see it completed. Later this year, we will be launching a new chat feature on our website, so our members will have the ability to quickly get answers to any questions they have. This will give us another channel of communication to better interact with our members, providing up-to-the minute service.
Another focus is our business banking practice. We are increasing our dedicated business banking staff with the goal in 2020 to substantially grow our portfolio. We offer a variety of services including business banking accounts, loans and tools to help businesses succeed.
Finally, our growth continues with a new financial center opening in Stockton in 2020. This is the result of merging two smaller credit unions into UNCLE in 2018 and making the decision to consolidate these locations into one larger, technology-centered branch location for this marketplace. This full-service branch will have an updated digital experience without sacrificing the personal touch our members expect.
Our Board, staff and members made 2019 a tremendously successful year filled with progress and excitement. It is with this enthusiasm that we look ahead to 2020 and beyond, positioned for more growth and opportunity. Leading an organization is no easy feat, but it is easier with the dedication of our Board of Directors and staff who work hard every day to further UNCLE’s vision. On behalf of our Board of Directors and dedicated staff, I want to thank you for your membership and commitment to UNCLE Credit Union.
Audit Committee Chair
“To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business and your business in your heart.”
—Thomas Watson, Sr., Former CEO, IBM
The Audit Committee of UNCLE Credit Union independently evaluates the soundness of UNCLE Credit Union’s operations and activities. Throughout the year, the committee meets with management to monitor the internal controls and initiatives implemented.
The Audit Committee also meets with various regulators and oversees the internal audit function, as well as meeting with the financial statement auditors to discuss the annual audit.
Based on the results of the 2019 annual audit performed by Turner, Warren, Hwang and Conrad, certified public accountants, as well as examinations conducted by state and federal regulators, we conclude that UNCLE Credit Union has adequate financial controls and is financially sound.