[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello. I'm LeeAnna Lott and it's my pleasure to welcome you to the 2021 Local Government Federal Credit Union Annual Meeting. Due to the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our annual meeting is being held virtually again this year. And even though this practice is now feeling more typical, we still miss seeing our members in person. But the one thing that hasn't changed is our commitment to serve our members and help them achieve their financial goals.
Before we begin, please take a look at the interactive chat box on this page. At any time during the meeting, you can enter questions for CEO Maurice Smith, who will host a Q&A session at the end of this report. At that time, he'll respond to the questions we receive.
At certain points, you may be asked to respond yes or no to a motion. A poll will appear in your chat window, giving you the opportunity to vote and participate in the meeting. We recently recorded LGFCU member Antuan Hawkins at the Greensboro History Museum as he sang our national anthem. Ladies and gentlemen, please pause for a moment while we play the National Anthem to open the 2021 LGFCU annual meeting.
[MUSIC - "STAR SPANGLED BANNER"] (SINGING) O say, can you see by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight, o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there. O say does that star spangled banner yet wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
Thank you so much for your rendition of the national anthem, Antuan. That was truly moving. Mr. Lin Jones, Chairman of the Board of Directors for LGFCU, is ready to begin. Welcome to the 2021 annual meeting.
Good morning and welcome, everyone. I am calling the 38th annual meeting of Local Government Federal Credit Union to order. A quorum of at least 15 members is required for the annual meeting.
Mr. Chairman, we have 21 members in attendance and 168 members viewing online. I see that we have more than 15. The chair recognizes and declares a quorum for this meeting. The assistant to the secretary shall record minutes of this meeting. We now ask board member Dr. Aaron Noble to give the invocation. Aaron?
Please join me in returning thanks. Heavenly Father, this is the day that you have made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Well, Heavenly Father, we thank you for the opportunity to assemble at this place to hear the good news about our Credit Union.
Heavenly Father, we're so thankful that, during the turbulent times in which we've come through, you have allowed our Credit Union to not only sustain, but to grow and prosper. And for that, we give you thanks. We're thankful for every member-owner who has helped make this institution what it is.
We're thankful for every staff member, from the executive suite throughout the levels of the organization, whose commitment to service to others has meant so much to the growth of LGFCU. We thank you especially for those members who have served on the front line during the pandemic, those who have answered the call and rendered whatever assistance was necessary to their friends, and family, and neighbors. We ask that you continue to strengthen and keep them and we ask you to bless them in a very special way.
Heavenly Father, be with us during our deliberations today. And as we emerge from this meeting, may all of us, every member-owner, every staff member, be doubly committed to making sure that we do everything we can to meet the mission of our Credit Union and the needs, the financial needs, of those individuals we are established to serve.
Be with us, guide us, direct us, and we'll be sure to give you all the honor, all the glory, and all the praise. Heavenly Father, these and all blessings we ask in the name of your son, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Thank you, Aaron. The first order of business is the approval of the 2020 Annual Meeting minutes. A link to download and inspect the minutes are available on the webpage. The chair will entertain a motion for approval.
Having a motion and proper second, the chair now asks our members who are viewing online to vote yes or no to approve the minutes. As I wait for the votes to come in, I want to thank you for watching today. We recognize that your time is valuable and we appreciate you choosing to spend that time with us.
Your participation and interest are key elements in the success of the Credit Union and cornerstones of our cooperative governance. I urge all members watching to view the links to the financial and audit reports, the 2020 Annual Report, and the Strategic Business Plan located on this page to learn more about how your Credit Union is operated and what our plans are for the future.
In the Strategic Business Plan, your Credit Union is focused on four strategic pillars or areas of strategic operation. Building strong communities, engaging employees and building our future, building a high performance organization, and increasing member engagement. That is what we're about.
These pillars support this Credit Union's capstone goals to transform the financial lives of our members. We encourage you to read more about the pillars and capstones in the Strategic Business Plan.
Mr. Chairman, the yeses have it.
OK. Hearing a majority in favor, the motion is approved. At this time, I'd like to introduce your Local Government Federal Credit Union board members. We have Vice Chair Ken Noland, Secretary Ruth Barnes, Treasurer Jeanne Erwin, and members David Dear, Paul Miller, Dr. Aaron Noble, and our board emeritus member, Al Richardson.
I would also like to recognize the two independent directors of Civic Federal Credit Union. We have Kellie Blue, who is the treasurer, and Willie Best. The chairman's report is available in the 2020 Annual Report to membership. A link has been provided on this web page.
LGFCU cannot operate the way it does without the contribution of our many volunteers. Often every month, the board appoints new volunteers to serve in a number of roles. We appreciate the work these bodies of volunteers provide to our Credit Union.
LGFCU has nearly 600 volunteers working on behalf of you, our Credit Union members. We have seven board members, 594 Advisory Council members, five Supervisory Committee members, and 14 Loan Review Committee members. At this time, I'd like to give a special thank you to all the volunteers appointed during the last 12 months.
Your commitment to the organization is greatly appreciated. To all our volunteers, please remember, LGFCU is only as effective and efficient as the effort we get from all of you. At this time, I'd like to call on Emily Lucas for the Supervisory Committee report. Emily?
Dear members, on behalf of the Supervisory Committee, it is a pleasure to present this report for the annual meeting of the Local Government Federal Credit Union. It is the duty of the Supervisory Committee to ensure that all financial records present fairly the operations of the Credit Union and that procedure and practices are sound, thereby protecting members' deposits and rights.
In accordance with the National Credit Union Administration, or NCUA, requirements, we engage the CPA firm of CliftonLarsonAllen to perform a financial statement audit of the Credit Union as of June 30, 2020. The audit found the financial statements proved to be a fair presentation in all material respects of the Credit Union's financial position and that the results of operations and cash flows were in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles.
On behalf of the committee, the auditing firm helps to ensure that accounting records are free of material misstatement and represent the true financial picture of the Credit Union and that the Credit Union follows sound accounting principles and guidelines.
The committee also monitors policies for fairness, soundness, and efficiency. The Credit Union employs an internal audit department that tests the internal systems and processes. The internal audit team conducts periodic consultative and compliance reviews of each function within the Credit Union. I wish to thank the board and members for their confidence in the work that we do for the Credit Union.
Our Supervisory Committee provides an important service to the membership by ensuring the safety and soundness of the Credit Union. Thank you, Emily, for providing this report. Please relay our appreciation to the rest of the committee. I now call on Tony King for the Loan Review Committee report. Tony, take it away.
Good morning, everyone. It's a pleasure and privilege to be with you this morning as we celebrate the 38th annual meeting of the Local Government Federal Credit Union. Before I offer my report, I always like to take the opportunity to give a thanks and a recognition out to the incredible employees that we have working on our behalf as members of the Local Government Federal Credit Union as well as the incredible executive management team that we have operating this Credit Union.
They work hard every day and their hard work shows, as you will see. The numbers presented by Maurice and the staff today show how successful we are at this Credit Union. So thank you from the bottom of my heart as a member for your hard work to all of the staff and the executive team.
I'm here today to present the annual Loan Review Committee report, and so bear with me while I get a little help and we'll get going on this report. I'm pleased to present the Loan Review Committee report for the 38th annual meeting of the Local Government Federal Credit Union.
The Loan Review Committee fulfills two significant roles for the Credit Union. First, the LRC gives members a way to appeal loan decisions they have received. These loans may have been denied through our usual delivery channels. This second look by volunteers is an assurance to members that they are not just another number.
Secondly, the Loan Review Committee offers members a direct voice into the loan decision process. LRC members are not staff. LRC members are volunteers. These are your fellow members who serve without compensation.
This right to appear before the Loan Review Committee of peers is a very unique benefit to the Local Government Federal Credit Union. This is truly one of the things that differentiates the Credit Union membership and makes it exceptional.
Members are given the option of having their applications presented to the committee via mail, telephone, or in person. In each instance, every application is treated equally, confidently, excuse me, confidentially, and respectfully. And this is a very, very important differentiation between us and other institutions.
If you go into the branch and you make an application for a loan, and for some reason that loan is denied, you have additional options. You don't have that in a lot of institutions, and that's one of the reasons there's an advantage to being a member to the Credit Union.
If, unfortunately, your application was denied for some reason, you can specifically request to appear before the Loan Review Committee. There are many members, but typically, there are three that meet on Wednesday, and we hear these applications for review.
We have the full authority to look at these applications and make decisions on these applications based on their merits as well as considerations of things that we feel might have impacted the application at the branch. So it is very important that you know you have an additional opportunity for a loan review if you're denied at Local Government Federal Credit Union. That really is a big deal and it really is an advantage that you have with us that you don't have at other institutions.
Last year, the LRC met as often as needed, usually weekly, to consider the needs and requests of members. This is a very dedicated group of volunteers. In fact, and that's for a fact, some of the LRC members have served more than 20 years and do so happily and enjoy doing it to help the Credit Union and to help the members who are neighbors and coworkers.
I thank the committee and the board of directors for their hard work in this effort. We are truly making a difference in the lives of our members and their families. And if you have ever gone through a process where you needed the services of the Credit Union, you know what I'm talking about because I'm sure they've affected your life in a positive manner and they've affected the lives of your coworkers and neighbors who are also members.
So as members of the Credit Union, I respectfully submit this report this year for the 38th annual meeting from the Loan Review Committee and I look forward to seeing you all in person maybe next year, if not before. Have a wonderful day and be safe. Thank you.
Our Loan Review Committee really demonstrates the Credit Union spirit of members helping members. Thanks, Tony. Please let the rest of the Loan Review Committee know how much we appreciate their hard work. I now call on Ken Noland for the Nominating Committee report. Ken?
Mr. Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to present the report from the Nominating Committee. I'd like to introduce the members of the Nominating Committee, Ruth Barnes, Dr. Aaron Noble, and myself. In accordance with Credit Union bylaws, the chairman of the board appointed the Nominating Committee.
The charge of the committee is to review the qualifications of prospective candidates for the board and make nominations to the membership. The committee has voted to submit the following nominations. David Dear from Shelby North Carolina for a three year term, Lin Jones, Durham, North Carolina, for a three year term. Mr Chairman, the Nominating Committee submits these nominations in recommendation to the membership.
Thank you, Ken. Our bylaws provide for nominations from the floor in the event of a vacancy where there is no nomination. There is no such vacancy. There were no petitions received from members for nominations. The chair will entertain a motion for the election of the Nominating Committee selection by acclamation.
I'll second the motion.
Having a motion and proper second, the motion is approved. Thank you, Ken, for your report and our appreciation to the Nominating Committee for their work. As I call on Maurice for the CEO report, I would like to remind our online audience, they can submit their questions for Maurice at any time. And if you would please include your first name and the city, we would appreciate it. Maurice, take it away.
Thank you, Lin, and welcome to the 2021 Annual Meeting for Local Government Federal Credit Union. As Lin introduced, I am Maurice Smith. I am the CEO for your Credit Union and it's my pleasure to give this report and the CEO's report to you, the membership.
I did the math earlier. This is my 28th annual meeting at LGFCU. So if the old saying is true that time flies when one is having fun, I'm having a ball. As we think about almost three decades of service together, a lot has changed in the last few years and we've been through a lot together.
We've seen different kinds of economies. We've seen various recessions. We've seen rising rate environments, inverted yield curves. We've seen unemployment go up and down. We've seen lots of changes. But the one word that sort of describes you, the membership of LGFCU, is resilient.
But you see, we as ordinary citizens take for granted that society works as well as it does. That our garbage is going to be picked up, that the streets are going to be safe, that if I turn on the tap, I'm going to get clean water. That doesn't happen by magic. It happens because we have essential workers like you on the front line ensuring that our communities, our economy, and our way of living is what it is.
Thank you for the commitment that you've made to local government, for the commitment you've made to your fellow members and citizens, and to the Credit Union. We are grateful for your service. Now, part of the role of the CEO's report is to give you a sense of how we have done as a financial institution for last year.
But in doing so, I have a question for you. So how are we doing? Now, there's two ways to think about answering this question. First, that "we" in that question could be the Credit Union. As you would expect, presenting the CEO report, I'm going to have some statistics to share with you how we as a financial institution performed last year. So in a few moments, we'll get to some of that.
But the "we" also should include how we as individuals, as members of the Credit Union, are doing as well. The answer would be incomplete if we only focus on statistics and data. Part of being a member of a Credit Union is that we're concerned about how you are doing as a community. So let's start with how we're doing as a Credit Union as an entity itself.
So some of you have seen this chart before. I've shown it for several years, and this sort of depicts for you the growth trend of LGFCU over a period of time. The chart begins in 1990 and it goes on for the next 30 years up until last year. What's remarkable about this, it shows a steady increase in total deposits, total assets for the Credit Union.
Now, we know growth doesn't just happen. This is not by luck. I can't take Credit for the growth that we've had at the Credit Union. The growth we've had is because of you. You said that you want to be a part of a financial institution that has core values that match your community's values.
You said that you want to be a part of an institution that's going to offer fair and affordable financial services. You said you want to be a part of an institution whose principles and values mean more than just peddling financial services. And because you have drawn other members into this collective, this membership for LGFCU, it has yielded the growth that you see here on this chart.
But there's more to it. As we think about how have we done this year, let's talk a little bit more about, I guess, some statistics on how your Credit Union is performing. Now, we call this the 2020 at a glance, and this is just some high level statistics on how well your Credit Union did last year, and I'm just going to focus on just a few of the numbers here.
As you may see, the total membership for the Credit Union surpassed 370,000 individuals. One in every 29 North Carolinian is a member of LGFCU. So you have a lot of family members, if you will, who are part of the same institution that you are in and who share the same kind of values about community services and a financial institution.
You see our total assets of $2.8 billion is how we ended last year. Hot off the press, we surpassed $3 billion just last week. This is because of your support for the Credit Union. But I want to draw your attention to one number on here. Because as we think about looking at financial statistics for our Credit Union and how well we have done, there's the number part of it, the data. That's important and it gives you some sense of, financially, how we're performing.
But I believe when you look at the financial performance of any institution, you slowly get a perspective as to what its values are, its policies, and how it thinks of its role compared to what it offers to its membership. So take a look at that number near the top, 6,668 mortgage loans, real estate loans, were made to members last year alone. That's a lot of real estate loans.
What's remarkable about that is we made 6,600 loans to members in the middle of a pandemic-driven recession. Now, give you some context on what that number means, that is 7% more real estate loans than we made in 2019, when we were in an expansion economy.
Now, a little bit about financial services management. We in the financial services business are in the practice of managing risk. Too much risk means that we need to increase our prices so we can get paid for the risk we are taking or we need to pull back from the market because it's too risky to be in a certain area. So going into a pandemic-driven recession feels like risk.
We know from past recessions a lot of financial institutions will be looking at an economic downturn and their MO is to pull back from the market, to tighten up on their credit qualifications, to pull some services back, to sort of make sure that they are protecting themselves in a risky environment when they're not quite sure what the economy is going to give them.
These are the institutions that go to the sideline. Your board of directors think about risk in a different way. It doesn't seem reasonable that a cooperative that is owned by its membership would choose, in the middle of an economic downturn, to turn its back on its membership.
So when we've received news there's going to be a recession, there's going to be job losses, there's going to be business closures, yeah, we recognize the risk. But we also recognize our responsibility to you, the membership, to make sure that we are continuously providing services to you.
So hence, we go into recession when other institutions are sitting on the sidelines like they have been in other recessions, our role is to double down on you, the membership, and make more real estate loans. This is what you should expect of a cooperative that's owned by its members, that we are committed to providing services to you.
But there's more to this tale as we think about how are we doing as a financial institution. So one of the measures of success for, I imagine, for any business, and particularly financial services business, is growth. We figure if you're not growing, then there must be some indication from the membership that maybe your services aren't competitive. Maybe they're not convenient, but something's wrong.
So we look at growth numbers sort of like a canary in the coal mine to give us some indication of how well are we serving the needs of the membership. So this graph here illustrates for you the growth rate of the Credit Union in various categories. And you will see for this chart, we compare ourselves to peer institutions in North Carolina.
So it is useful for a financial institution that we are looking at our performance to see how well we perform to institutions who look like us in terms of the size of their balance sheet. So let's take a look at the growth rates for the Credit Union.
The first column you see there is total assets. We grew at 27.41%. A really good year of growth for your Credit Union is about 8% or 9%. 27 and 1/2% is hair on fire growth. I mean, that is almost unprecedented for us. I have been here since 1992 and I can only remember maybe two other years we've had growth at that kind of pace.
As you may see, that is almost, almost, twice the growth rate of our peer sized institutions. Much of that growth is driven by what you see there in total deposits. So two things sort of affect the total deposit growth. One is something called flight to quality.
So when the economy looks a little iffy, when it feels a little bit risky to consumers, there's this phenomenon where consumers say, I'm going to put my money into a place where I know it is safe. So when I need my money for my nest egg to take care of essential needs, then I know it's going to be there.
So we are proud of the fact that when the economy looks a little iffy, members say, I'm going to take my money to the Credit Union because that's an endorsement that we are a safe place to warehouse your nest egg. As you may see, the growth in our total deposits was higher than our peer institutions.
Total loans grew by almost 15%, significantly higher than our peer institutions. It goes to my earlier point. In a recession, a lot of financial institutions pull back. They say, I'm not going to take any risk on my customers in the middle of a recession. That doesn't feel like what a Credit Union ought to do. We want to make loans to you.
As you may see, our total investments were off the chart. We had tons of investments coming that we've made for the Credit Union because you brought money to us in deposits. Now, there's two things we do with deposit money that come through the Credit Union. First of all, we invest it.
But we either invest it in loans to you, which is what we prefer to do. But to the extent that deposits coming in the door and we sort of outstrip the demand for loans, then we put it out in secured investments. As you may see, net worth for the Credit Union grew at a fast pace, faster than our peers, and our membership was just shy of what our peer ratio is in terms of growth in that area as well.
So all in all, the growth for the Credit Union is really quite satisfactory and sort of beyond expectation for last year. I take no credit for that. That's because you decided you want to do more business with your Credit Union.
Well, how else are we doing? Well, let's take a look at how we measure ourselves in terms of ratios and some metrics here. Now, this is a little bit of inside baseball. This is getting into a little bit of the geeky part of running a financial institution. But I think it also shares with you the philosophy of how we think about financial management and what that means to you.
So the first numbers we have here is the cost of funds. Cost of funds are the dividends that we pay out to you for your deposits in money market, in share certificates, and share draft accounts, and so on and so forth. And as you can see, the cost of funds for LGFCU was a little bit lower than the cost of funds for our peer institutions.
There's a little bit at play here. You think about cost of funds also mirrors something you might have learned or have heard about in economics classes, which is supply and demand. So when you have a large supply of something and a relatively small demand, then the price comes down. And the price we are talking about here is the dividend rates that are paid on your deposits.
The expense to income for our institution compared to our peer institutions is just about the same. You just-- a very small margin of difference between the two. Expense to assets are pretty close to the same as well, but our expense to assets are slightly higher than our peer institutions based on the growth rate that we have for the institution as well.
Now, our provision for loan losses, this is the expense that we undertake to put monies aside for bad loans. So it might surprise you, but every now and then, we make a loan to a member and that loan isn't repaid. You know, life happens. Tough things happen to family sometimes and they come to us and say, I'm not able to fulfill the obligations that I made to the Credit Union, and we put aside reserves for those occasions.
But a loss for the Credit Union manifests itself in the next item that you see here, which is charge offs. For a loan we get to the point where we realize that it's not going to be repaid, so then we charge that loan off. And as you can see, that the charge off that we have for our loans is about twice as much as it is for our peer- sized Credit Unions.
There's a philosophical story for that. Because going into a recession, we want to make sure that members know that we are available to help them. We've doubled down on you. We want to make sure that you need access to financial services and credit. We are here for you.
That takes a little bit of risk sometimes in a pandemic, but that's why you are a member of a Credit Union. And we recognize that in the charge off rates that you might see there. But the bottom line is to take a look at the return on assets.
And essentially, that is after we've received all the income for the Credit Union, we've backed out all the expenses, what's left? And you have the return on assets. That's the bottom line. And as you may see, the bottom line for our return on assets for our Credit Union is significantly higher than our peer institutions. This is all for the benefit of the membership.
How else are we doing? There's other ways you can compare how we're doing and essentially how we stack up. So each year, we get a CPA opinion, an audit of the Credit Union, where we hire a firm to come in and take a look at how we are doing to ensure that, financially, what I presented to you is reliable.
And we received an unmodified opinion last year, as we have in years before that. Essentially, an unmodified opinion means it was a clean audit opinion. No issues whatsoever. We also undergo a regulatory exam. So LGFCU is regulated and your deposits are insured by the National Credit Union Administration.
So every year for about two or three weeks we have regulatory examiners come in and sort of embed themselves in here with us to ensure that we are operating the Credit Union in a safe and sound manner and that we're complying with all the rules and regulations, procedures, and statutes that we are supposed to. We passed that with flying colors as well.
Another way to sort of think about how well your Credit Union is doing is through member satisfaction, and we poll you. We ask you, how are we doing? How is the delivery of services? How-- are our folks nice to you when they call or when you call us? Are we providing the services that meet your household need? We measure that result in an aggregate basis.
But the final analysis is, how do you as an individual member feel about the services that you receive at the Credit Union? That's a poll that lives on every day. That every time you use the services, it's an opportunity for us to wow you, to impress upon you, we are your Credit Union and we want your advice. And you don't have to wait for us to send you a survey or poll to ask how we're doing. Every time you interact with us, every impression that you receive, we want to know, how are we doing.
But you would expect, in an economic downturn, that your Credit Union should be here to help you. Because the challenges that many of our members faced during the kitchen table conversations about how to make ends meet when there might have been a cut back in work, a furlough from employment, a reduction in income, you wonder, how was my Credit Union going to provide assistance to me?
We have some numbers here to share with you. So the first number you see here is 8,210 loans were modified last year. Let me explain what modification means. When you get a loan from the Credit Union, you sign a promissory note as a security agreement to indicate these are the terms of the loan. This is the interest rate. This is the payment amount. Here's how long you're going to pay on this loan. Here's when it pays off and here are the terms and conditions for remaining compliant with that loan.
But when the economy's bad, sometimes that creates issues for you and your household and you come to the Credit Union and you said, I'm having some challenges complying with the terms of the loan. Essentially, I just need some help. So we agree to modify the loan, to make some adjustments in the payment, make some adjustments in when the payment is due so we can make it easier for you to be able to make that loan payment for us.
So you see 8,210 loans were modified. The balances of all those loans that were modified was nearly $149 million. The number of mortgage loans that were modified was 1,127 mortgage loans for over $76 million in total balances.
This is our commitment to you. You should expect no less from your Credit Union. That if you find yourself in a challenge, and you find your budget being stretched, and you need somebody to have a listening ear, willing to help you dig yourself out of that, this is what you should expect from your financial institution.
So I've answered a few questions about how are we doing from the perspective of how is the Credit Union doing. Now let's ask, how are you doing. This is an important question. I don't know how we as a Credit Union could operate, and think solely about statistics, and metrics, and numbers, and just the mechanical side of the Credit Union if we don't take the time to stop and focus on what do you need, you and your household.
I am mindful. As much technical things that we have to do at a Credit Union, every evening, likely happening all throughout North Carolina, there are kitchen table conversations going on that you have to address. How are we going to save enough money for our children to go to college? How are we going to fix an automobile out of the driveway that might need a new transmission? And you know that washing machine has been making some funny noises lately.
Well, how about a new roof? How do we take care of Mom who needs some assistance as well? So these are the questions that you ask at your kitchen table. These are the questions we ask at our boardroom table. How do we provide services to help you as a membership?
I want to give you some idea of how we think about this and how you eventually can help us solve this equation. There's a statement that Chairman Jones makes in his report that I want to call out for your attention, and it reads, some consumers live with financial fragility every day.
Think about that for a moment. The challenges that many of us have each and every day, which is sort of grounded in these-- the financial needs that we have for our households, for our family members, and for our communities, what is the Credit Union's perspective about this? What should we do?
So as we think about financial fragility, there's a number of social determinants that play a role. Today, we're focused on the pandemic. And with the vaccines and the completion of all the health care mitigation efforts that are undergoing, we will eventually get back to some feeling of normalcy.
But a lot of the social determinants that sort of drives a family into systemic stubborn intergenerational poverty continue. And you see there's a number of things here that we have to grapple with each and every day. So what is the Credit Union's role in all of this?
You see, because if we were just any kind of financial institution, we would just be peddling financial products, we would be looking at financial metrics and ratios and we would pat ourselves on the back for having done a good job from an institutional standpoint.
That should feel unfulfilling to us. It should, as a cooperative. We should be focused on your needs. How are you doing? So I've heard economists say that recessions roll around about every seven years. So this is 2021. We should expect another recession in about 2028.
Now, give or take a year or two, we're not sure what will drive the next recession. It might be a stock market bubble. It could be a natural disaster. It could be another pandemic. But what we are pretty certain about is that there's going to be another recession. Not quite sure when it's going to happen, but it's going to happen.
So think about how you felt last year going into this last recession. Did you have enough of a nest egg to help you weather through the transition? Was your income steady and dependable? Were you able to take care of all the financial demands and challenges that your family faced? Were some of those social determinants weighing heavy on your mind as you thought about, how do we navigate ourselves through COVID-19?
If the answer's in the negative, that you have doubts about how we performed this last year, then perhaps we should have concerns about the next recession. Now, for many of us, we are in this triage mode. We are in the middle of a recession, we're figuring it out, we're working it out, we're doing what we have to do to get things back in order, and I pray that's coming really, really soon.
But we should not lose sight of, another seven years is going to happen and there will be another event that we're going to have to grapple with. So your Credit Union is focused on not just the here and now. But we're also focused on the next seven years because it's going to happen.
So you have every right to ask of us, what are we going to do about this? We ask that of ourselves. What are we going to do about the next seven years? How do we get prepared for the next downturn that we know is on the way, we just don't know exactly when it's going to occur, we don't know exactly what's going to trigger it, we don't know how deep it's going to be, but we are pretty certain that it's going to happen?
So this is personal for me. And I don't mind, maybe in a moment of vulnerability to the membership here, to tell you, I have a chip on my shoulder about this. You have heard me over the years wax on about the fact that we are a member-owned cooperative, that we are not for profit. We are focused on helping improve your life.
Those things are all true, but I'm running out of patience. We want to help you each and every day. So we've been having lots of conversations, conversations in folks in academia, with the philanthropic community, with folks who work in think tanks, who work in trade associations, at different levels of government, how can we as a financial institution help you live your best life?
This is called financial wellness, and financial wellness means different things to different people. But essentially, it means providing the financial tools that's going to help improve your life. And so we have all these social determinants to sort of trigger what causes a family or community to find itself living in a financial state that is less than what they would desire. But what's the solution for getting you where we need to have you, where you want to be? Because the next seven years is going to go by quickly.
So here's what we want to add to the equation. What you see on the screen is a new email address that we have brought up just this week. It's called email@example.com. Sounds kind of sterile, doesn't it? But let me tell you this. If you decide to send an email to this address, I want to tell you exactly where it goes. It goes to my desk.
I will be the one monitoring this email address. It's going to show up on my phone, or my tablet, or my laptop, or my desktop, because we want to have a conversation with you about what is it that you need from your Credit Union that's going to help you live your best life.
Tell us about the financial products that we offer. Do they fit your need? Tell us where we are falling short. Tell us how we can plug in in areas of your life that's going to make a difference. Tell us about new products and services that you've imagined that you wish financial institutions would offer. Tell us what it is that we need to do to prepare you for the next seven year event, because it's on the way. We know it is.
This is the least you should expect from your Credit Union. We are owned by you. We are you, and this is our determination for you. But it begins with the conversation, and I'm inviting you to send me your messages, tell me what's on your mind. I promise you I will read each and every one of them and we will react.
Here's an illustration of some of my colleagues who are behind the scenes who help your LGFCU work each and every day. You've heard me often mention it that we hire people who have this pollyannish view that they think they can change the world. That's why we hired them.
There's this notion that as a Credit Union, we're not just like any other type of financial institution. We are your financial institution. In fact, we are you. We are so very proud to serve you. As I talk to my team members in the hallways or virtual Zoom calls these days, we talk about what it means to work for an institution that matters as much as ours does. And we are happy to be the folks who are providing the services to you and be in this fight with you.
Thank you for your attention today. Thank you for being a part of this annual meeting. Thank you for being a member of the Credit Union, for providing the essential services that our community needs. Thank you for all you do. It is my privilege and my pleasure to be at your service. Thank you so much. And Lin, back to you, sir.
Thank you, Maurice, for that report and your continued excellence in leadership. If anyone has any questions for our CEO, please submit them in the chat box now. LGFCU staff members Jennifer and Terry Phelps will be reading the questions submitted. If you are ready, Maurice, we will begin the session.
Thank you, Lin. So this is my favorite part of the annual meeting, where I get an opportunity to listen to the member-owners of this institution and understand what's on your mind. This is also the scariest part of the annual meeting because I don't know what you're going to ask me, but I'm ready for you, so let's get started. So Terry, I understand that you have the first question.
Good morning, Maurice. Karen from High Point asks, can we bring back Skip-A-Pay, where accounts in good standings can skip one pay a year on any loan?
Karen, that's a good idea. So for the rest of you who haven't heard about this, we offer this service of Skip-A-Pay. It essentially allows you to extend your loan that you have outstanding with us. So if you have a payment due in April, you can extend that payment until May, so it sort of gives you a payment holiday.
And we did that a few years ago for the Christmas holiday season to give members an opportunity to get a little break and have a little more cash flow in their pocket. We've done it on a few other occasions. Karen, I think we should take a really close look at that for the future, so we're going to take a note of your request and your suggestion and don't be surprised if you see that in the future. Thank you for that question. Very good.
Jennifer, do you have a question for me?
Yes, Maurice. Cindy asks, will LGFCU offer an option to transfer money to other institutions?
Ah, Cindy. So the opportunity for someone to transfer money to another institution is not available electronically today. There are these other brands, cash apps and so forth, that other institutions, fintech organizations, offer. But we as an institution don't have that functionality yet.
It is available and here's what I mean by this. Most of the time, the financial information or deposits are transferred from one institution to the next using ACH, the Automated Clearinghouse system. And basically, that's how money is transmitted between financial institutions.
We can receive money by way of ACH and we can send money by way of ACH. So if you were with another institution and you wanted to have money from the Credit Union sent to that institution, then we can do so, but that other institution have to request that money to be from us to send to them. The ability for us to originate and send it to that institution, we're working on that functionality.
So we're working on improving this ability, but we understand we have members who have financial services at other institutions. You want the ability to make loan payments someplace else or be able to just transfer money to other depository accounts. I imagine in the future, you will see more functionality that's going to be available to you. So thank you, Cindy, for your question. Terry, do you have a question for me?
Yes. Diane from Cary How long do Loan Review Committee members serve and how can a member be considered to serve on this committee?
Ah, Diane, good question. So the term for the Loan Review Committee is two years. So you saw earlier we have 14 members of the committee and they serve in rotating terms. So seven terms will come due here in the next month or so. And then the next year, the other seven members of the committee, their term will come due, so we don't have everybody roll off at one time, so there's some stagnation there.
So as we think about opportunities for members to serve in a Loan Review Committee, we'd love to know what your interests are. So if you would like to serve on this committee, then send an email to me or send it to anybody on our staff to let us know that we can consider you the next time we have a vacancy.
I like what the Loan Review Committee, the LRC, stand for in terms of sort of really exhibiting to you, the membership, the difference between a member-owned cooperative, such as you have here at LGFCU, and other types of financial institutions.
Listen. I am the CEO of this institution, and that might give you the impression that I am close to the top of the food chain for our organization. But when it comes to making loans, approving loans, the Loan Review Committee outstrip me. Their authority overrides the authority of the CEO.
So I can make a decision on a loan application for a member and the Loan Review Committee can come in and override me. These are the volunteers, the members who represent you, as it should be. And these are the volunteers who say, we believe so much in this cooperative principle that we are governed by the members of the organization, that the board of directors have given them the highest authority in making loans.
So again, if you get a disappointing loan decision from the Credit Union, you have a right to automatically appeal that to the LRC, and they have the final say so on it. Very good question. Jennifer, are you up for the next question?
Yes, Maurice. Robin from Rocky Mount asked when LGFCU will have an app.
Robin, I've heard that question before. So I think I might have good news for you, Robin. We've been working on this idea of developing an app, a mobile app for the membership for some time. It's coming real soon. It's coming so soon I can almost taste it.
But here's what we've been working on. We've been working on an app that's going to provide the functionality that you have been asking for and that you need. The kind of things that allow you to check your balances, to transfer money, to be able to look at transactions, and yes, use mobile deposit, and that is take a photograph of a check with your app and have that money deposited in the Credit Union.
That app is coming real soon. So we're working on the final functionalities of it now. We're testing the app. But in the meantime, I will remind you, there are still other ways that you can use a mobile phone to access your Credit Union. So just use the regular browser that comes on your phone with an Android phone or an iPhone, and you just use whatever you normally would to go onto the internet you can still get to the Credit Union services, still log in using your phone, still have the opportunity to transfer money within the member access services of our Credit Union.
So these services are still available to you, but the app is going to make it a little more convenient, maybe a little easier, and provide you some new functionality. So good question. It's on the way. Terry, do you have a question for me, sir?
Yes, Maurice. Donna asks, will there ever be a chance that manufactured home loans could be increased from 15 to 30 years?
Ah, Donna. We haven't looked at the mobile home loan policy in a while. So you ask is there a chance that it can be increased? Yes, there's a chance. OK, so we have some work to do. So we have to figure out how to do this safely and in your best interests. Because the longer we finance a loan, the more interest you pay on it, so we need to work out the details.
So-- but the short answer is, yes, there a chance, and that's just moved up to the top of my list. So we are going to be talking about that, Donna. I bet you that. So Jennifer, what do you have in mind?
Maurice, Justin asks, has there been any discussion regarding how to address historical inequities in lending to minority groups among traditional banks? This has led to a massive gap in the ability to build wealth.
Justin, that's a really important question. So let's talk about-- let's unpack that just a little bit. So there is much conversation these days in the financial services world about the inequities that occur in offering financial services for various communities around the state and around the nation.
So you ask, is there any effort to be made for other institutions and maybe even broader. You should know that your Credit Union is involved in local, state, and national associations, which includes organizations that allow us to advocate for services, policies, rules, regulations, and laws that help our ability to serve you, the membership.
But part of the conversations that occur on a state and national level is also what kind of rules, and laws, and public policies will be good for the communities and for the public at large. We participate in those conversations.
So while I'm happy to tell you that we have a system in place here at the Credit Union that helps ensure equality among the membership, that isn't always the case in every community and it isn't always the case practiced by every financial institution. So part of our advocacy as a Credit Union is to help our government, to help industries, to help other financial institutions understand how they can best serve their customers.
Now, you might ask, well, how is that impacting the Credit Union? We don't see ourselves as an institution of being in a silo that's not impacted by other financial institutions' behavior. It affects your community, right? It affects your family members. Perhaps even you and other financial services that you might have. So we participate in this larger conversation on how can we improve financial services as an industry.
But there are some things ingrained in the principles and the core values of a credit union such as ours that helps defeat these notions of inequities. But first of all, we are a member-owned organization. There is nobody at Wall Street or any place else that have an interest that usurps the interests of the membership.
I listen to you. Now I report to a seven person board of directors, but I have over 370,000 bosses, the owners of this institution. It doesn't make good sense to me for us to do anything that disenfranchises any one of you, the members of the organization. We believe in a participatory governance. That's why you have an annual meeting like this, so that you can come together as the membership and instruct us on how we can provide a better service to you.
Ingrained in everything we do is this notion of this egalitarian principle that every member is created and treated equally. Every service we have is provided to every member. Same rules apply to everyone. It doesn't matter whether you have $25.14 on deposit or you have over a million dollars on deposit. You get a vote, and a say-so, and an equal opportunity to participate in this Credit Union as any other member would.
But we recognize there are inequities and we recognize that sometimes there's unfairness. And there's a number of rules and laws that we have to comply with, fair lending laws, that make sure that what we are doing doesn't create any harm to the membership or any community, even unintended harm.
So we report to the board on a regular basis our fair lending report. How are we doing in the various communities of the membership? We also report to the board on how we're doing in all of the compliance measures. But the final analysis is how do you feel we are doing. And so you have a direct line to the Credit Union any time you want to, to understand how we are doing, to discuss how it is affecting you, and how might we improve our services to the community.
We are going to be engaged on this forever. We always have been, but we always want to also have a voice in the larger community of financial services to help improve the lives of other folks. Even though they might be customers of other institutions, we believe we have some things to sort of teach our brother and sister financial institutions on how to treat every member of the community. Thank you for your question. I waxed on a little long on that one, but that's an important notion for all of us here. Terry, are you up for the next question?
Yes, Maurice. Bryan asks, any chance for higher CD rates for longer term savers?
Bryan, that's a good question. As you might have imagined and you might have seen, deposit rates all across the board, certificates of deposit, shared certificates, we call them, and our other depository accounts, the rates have been going down here lately. Let me explain what's happening to that, what's going on there.
So we are in a recession. And in a recession, this often happens. There are job losses and business closures. And so the folks who are in charge of sort of helping monitor our economy understand that we want to kick start it again. We want businesses to grow. We want consumers to continue buying and spending money to travel, to go out to eat, do all the kinds of things that fuels our economy.
The way that we try to do that is by bringing loan rates down. So throughout the nation, you should have been seeing that the average loan rates, the cost of borrowing money, has been coming down. When that happens, it encourages consumers to go out and buy homes, to buy durable goods, to travel, to eat out, and do the kind of things that help businesses grow.
Well, when loan rates come down, that puts pressures on financial institutions like ours to also reduce deposit rates. You see, the way we make money as a Credit Union and is able to pay the dividends on your deposits is largely through the interest we charge on loans.
So when we bring down the loan rates so that we can encourage more spending and more economic power, that brings down the income we need to be able to pay the dividends. Now, if you are a net saver, that is you don't borrow a lot of money and you have money in savings, it doesn't feel good that your dividend rates are going down.
But if you're someone who's looking to buy that first home, buy an automobile, that less expensive credit does feel good to you, so there's a balancing act. We suspect that the economy is going to do what the economy has always done, that we will see more economic stimulus in terms of more job gains, businesses reopening, creating more opportunities for the economy to rise.
And when it does and we start seeing loan rates start heading up again, because we want to stay ahead of any kind of inflationary pressures, and that will bring in more income into the Credit Union, which allows us to pay more in dividends on your deposits.
You didn't ask for an economic lesson, did you? And maybe I didn't explain it well enough, but the two have to work together. So when loan income comes down, then so does dividends. But when loan income goes back up, so will dividends. And so the answer to your question, it will likely go back up again. But listening to the real smart folks who are economists, it feels like it's going to be just a little while longer, so.
But rest assured, when opportunity comes along that we can improve our services to you in terms of the dividends on certificates, or deposits, we're going to jump on that opportunity. Thank you for that question. Jennifer, do you have a question for me?
Yes, Maurice. Laura asked, when will we be able to take photos of our checks for deposit?
Laura. So the remote deposit capture is what it's called, and that's when you're able to use a mobile phone to take a photograph of your check, and then that turns it into an electronic payment. So you take the check, and you can discard it at that point because you've created an electronic record that allows us at the Credit Union to be able to go out to the payer of that check if it's another financial institution, and we can withdraw those funds and put it into your account.
That's going to come with the mobile app. That's on its way. So we're looking forward to being able to introduce that to you. And you know what? During the time of the pandemic when we were sort of sheltering in place and not getting out as much as we could, that felt like a really good service to have. We wish we had it in time for this pandemic, but we're going to have that added soon and it's going to provide more conveniences for members in the future, so thank you for your question. Terry, do you have one for me as well?
Yes, Maurice. Karen from High Point says, the new branch in town looks great. However, would there ever be a consideration for Saturday operation hours so that folks that work past normal operating hours have the ability to go in and be serviced?
Karen, that's a really good question. So right now, Local Government Federal Credit Union serves its members through the State Employees' Credit Union and that branch office hours are from 8:30 to 5:30 Monday through Friday. There's been conversation in the past about Saturday or weekend hours and there's been a few financial institutions who have offered those.
It's been my observation that a lot of institutions that have offered weekend hours, more retail-type experience, it didn't pan out quite as well as they thought it was going to and so they started pulling back. You started slowly seeing those branches closing on the weekend. So we've had some conversation about it.
But I'll remind you there are other options available to you on the weekend. So the contact center at State Employees' Credit Union is open 24/7. So on Saturday morning after you've had your waffles and your eggs and you're ready to make a financial transaction, you can pick up the phone and you can make a phone call to the Credit Union and we can conduct most of the business that you are looking to conduct.
So you want to apply for a loan, you want to open an account, you want to join the Credit Union, give us a call at that toll- free number. We're happy to provide that service for you. I want to remind you there's a number of ATMs available throughout the community, over 1,000 ATMs. You want to get your hands on some cash? That's available to you as well.
There's a few things that only a branch can do. Safe deposit boxes or get a cashier's check. Those things are available Monday through Friday. But we think probably 99% of what you want to do and what feels like routine branch transactions can take place in many instances by the telephone, or online, or through the ATM.
But thank you for your questions and if that should change, I'll let you know. But we continue to have conversations on the best way to serve the membership on a regular basis. Thank you. Jennifer, do you have a question for me?
Yes. Ernest asks, Wells Fargo and PNC are using Zelle for members to transfer money from their account to a non-member. Is the Credit Union looking at Zelle? If not, what is the name of your app?
Ah. So we are looking at any way we can to improve the services of our membership. We're having conversations about some of these other services, Zelle, and Cash App, and others as well. But we don't have any immediate plans to offer those, but they continue to be under our surveillance, I suppose.
Here are some of the things we often think about as we're looking at new financial services. We want to make sure that it's going be safe for you. I talked to some members who, they will download the latest app that's available for transferring money or warehousing money on stored debit cards and so forth. Some of these services are really quite convenient.
But what give us a little bit of pause and that we take a look at the service agreement that come along with some of these products. So often, we download an app and we use it, and we click, yes, I agree to the service agreement. But there's a whole bunch of legal language behind the scenes to give you some indication of how safe your money is. Also some sense of what kind of fees come along with it and what limitations might be available.
Some of those things kind of creep us out a little bit. They don't seem quite as safe or quite as transparent as we believe they should. Now, we recognize the world is changing and many members want lots of different access points for their accounts and for the services that they enjoy.
So we are paying attention to what's going on with Zelle and the other similar apps in that respect, but we haven't made a final determination on what that looks like for you. So if you think that there's a product or service out here or a functionality that is not available through the other services that we offer today, then by all means, let us know. And maybe we can actually get to where you want to be by using some other functionality.
But we'll continue to have those conversations. I'm glad to know that you are paying attention to them as well. Terry, I think the next volley is up to you, isn't it?
Yes. Evelyn asked, has there been a discussion about not charging the monthly service fee to senior citizens 62 years or older?
Evelyn, yeah. You're talking right up my alley. Here pretty soon I turn 64, so let's think about it, Evelyn. So there's been conversation about how might we improve upon our services for all the membership, including our senior citizens and for our senior members.
And so we've had some debate about it. We have no final determination on that. So as we think about, there are some services discounts available to our members that are part of the Golden Circle Club. Sounds prestigious, doesn't it? It is.
So the Golden Circle allows you to get some services at a discount and some services free of charge. So check orders, cashier's checks, things along that line. You get these discounts for the services or you get a reduction in the prices for them. So those products and services are already available to our Golden Circle members.
So if you meet the age qualification on that, and I think that's 55 years old, so 62, you've already missed that for a few years, then you're able to go into a branch office or call a contact center and say, I want to be a part of the Golden Circle Club, then you'll be able to get these discounts.
Any further discount, let's think about that. We will take a look at how might we improve upon that. We haven't had a conversation of late about how we might improve upon our services to our senior members. That's going to be on our docket, trust me. Jennifer, do you have a question for me?
Yes, Maurice. Jacqueline from Hertford would like to know if there are any programs to help young adults towards financial independence.
Jacqueline, that's a good question. So we've often talked about financial wellness. I mentioned it earlier to you today, and the ideas of how do we improve upon the financial services for all our members, particularly our younger members.
Because as they're becoming adults, they are responsible for managing their own budget, for being able to make a car payment, pay rent, even going to college, there's certain financial responsibilities that will be yours, that you have to manage and take full advantage of the opportunities and watch out for the traps that will come your way.
So there are some things that we are working on, and you can go to our website for lgfcu.org and you'll find a wealth of information there about just basic financial wellness information. So how might you think about a budget? I want to buy an automobile. I want to save for retirement, for college, for buying a home. So there's a wealth of information that is available through that mechanism.
We feel like we can do more, and so we're having constant conversations these days about what kind of product or services can we launch to the membership that's going to really supercharge that effort. There's going to be more than just the financial educational piece. More than just improving your financial literacy to understand how you manage your money, but what tools and mechanism can we put in place that's going to make that easier for you? So we are working on that.
But here's what I like to hear from you. As you think about how might we improve that, because if you asked that question, I'm getting maybe the notion that you have something on your mind, published this website-- excuse me, this email address earlier, firstname.lastname@example.org, how about sending me a message?
Tell me specifically what kind of education or what kind of products you think would help young people, or any members, for that matter, with their financial literacy or how to be more prosperous with their financial management. I'd love to hear your advice, so I'm going to be looking for that email coming in soon. Terry, do you have a question for me?
Yes, Maurice. This question is from Xin. In what ways will LGFC do business differently in the future thanks to the lessons learned from the pandemic?
Ah, Xin. Yes. How might we do things differently? You know, we think about the trials that we have gone through in this pandemic that has created challenges for all our members. I mentioned earlier that we are thinking about seven years out, because another recession is coming, and what have we learned in this recession that's going to help prepare us for the next event.
But there's a few things that we've learned that we think we ought to change and make different. First of all, we need to be more intentional about financial literacy. That was the last question I addressed. We need to provide better resources to you as a financial consumer on how to make the most out of your financial engagement with the Credit Union.
Secondly, we think that members ought to have more opportunities for increasing their financial nest egg. Going into a pandemic-driven recession can drain your finances very quickly. Particularly when there's a job loss or a reduction in income coming into your household, then that nest egg that you have put aside is going to be tapped now because you need it to be taking care of the basic everyday living expenses.
How can we improve upon your ability to build a savings for the next time there's going to be a financial trauma that we're all going to have to deal with or just you and your household? We believe we've learned from this recession, from this pandemic, that we need to be more intentional in how we talk to you, the membership, about who we are as a Credit Union.
I've talked to some of my colleagues who work at other types of financial institutions and they see a recession as an opportunity to manage risk. Let's just sit out this recession. Let's just change our rules. Let's just jack up our prices. Let's do the kind of thing that's going to protect the institution from the risk that we see in the economy.
We want to be more intentional, as we explained to you, as a Credit Union. Those kind of tactics are the kind of things that should feel alien to us. So then how do we now leverage this cooperative structure of a Credit Union that's going to allow us to be able to help you be prepared for the next downturn?
We're looking for ideas. We have a few of our own, but we're looking for more ideas. And to the extent that you believe there's something we can do to help you and your family next time, thrive through the next event. Please let us know, Xin, because we want to be the institution that can provide that solution for you. Thank you. Jennifer, you have a question for me?
Yes, Maurice. Beverly asks, how can we get a Credit Union ATM at the Whispering Pines Harris Teeter, Food Lion, or ACE Hardware location?
So you want an ATM? OK. The answer's always yes. Now, there's a few things I've got to work on. Sometimes I think I drive our staff nuts here. When I get a question, I say, the answer is yes. Well, there's a few provisos and conditions for that.
So I remind us all that the ATM network, the CashPoints Network, is owned by State Employees' Credit Union. So they make the decision to where these ATMs are located, but they listen very carefully to our membership in terms of where would you like to have an ATM deployed.
So someone's taking notes of your question and we're going to pass that along to State Employees' Credit Union to see if that's a valuable site for a new ATM. A little bit about how that decision is made, because ATMs are put in locations where they receive hopefully adequate traffic, enough transactions going through the machine that's going to justify the expense of putting the machine there.
As you can imagine, these machines cost several thousands of dollars, and so we want to make sure there's going to be enough traffic to justify the expenses for the deployment. Secondly, we also want to make sure there's going to be sufficient exposure to the machine so that it's going to be safe for you to use, it's going to be visible to passing traffic and to the public.
So if you go into the machine late in the evenings, you can feel like there's a sufficient visibility for you, that you can feel safe going and accessing your money. And finally, affordability is always a question because most of the places where the ATMs are located, we don't own those spots so we have to actually rent that from a landlord for the placement of these machines.
As negotiating for rent and leases, we want to get the best price we can, so we want to make sure that wherever we've located an ATM, that it's going to be affordable for the Credit Union. It's going to be the best use of your resources.
And then finally, we look at other ATMs in the area because there's so many around. If there's one that's in the shopping center next door, it might not make prudent sense for us to put an ATM so close by. So we'll want to take a look at the access of other machines and branches in the community to make sure we're putting it in at a place where there's sufficient need for it because there's a lack of access to the other channels. So we're taking a note of that and we'll take a look at Whispering Pines for you as well. Terry, do you have a question for me, sir?
Yes, Maurice. Jody asked, does Golden Circle provide discounts for attorney services through the Credit Union? For example, estate planning?
Oh, Jody. The answer is no. It doesn't provide discount for estate services, but that sounds like a good idea. So before somebody kicks me in the side and before I say yes, I'm going to say, we'll take a look at it. Let's study that idea and see what that looks like.
Estate services is provided-- essential estate services is what we call it, is provided to State Employees' Credit Union branches that allow members to get a last will and testament, power of attorney, a living will with a declaration for natural death, which it's called in North Carolina, and other estate documents that you need for your family.
Listen, everybody needs to have estate documents prepared for you and your family. Your last wishes should be acknowledged and should be memorialized in some type of document. But even without the discount, the services that we have available for estate services I dare say are the least expensive in town. It's the Credit Union way, that we're going to offer these services to you, that we want to beat everybody else out on prices, but offer you a really quality product.
So it's already a discounted product for all membership, but might we be able to carve out an additional discount for Golden Circle? Perhaps. We'll take a look at that. We'll see what we can do about that. Jennifer, do you have another question for me?
Yes, and Maurice, this will be the final question, from Kellen. She would like to know what new products and services are coming this year and next year.
Helen. Oh, good question. What new products and services are coming? So hot off the press, Helen. Your board of directors met yesterday to approve creating a foundation, a charitable foundation. And I know it's not a product or service, but I am so excited about that I could dance a jig here for you, but that wouldn't be pretty, so I'm not going to do that.
But-- so the charitable foundation is going to focus on what kind of community services that we can provide as a Credit Union by way of a 501(c)(3). So that's on its way for you. We're constantly looking for ways to just sort of improve upon the features of the services that we already offer, so we're going to continue to have those conversations as well.
Now, you as a membership can help us from that standpoint because if you're doing business someplace else, and many members have other financial relationships, or you see something on television or you read something in a newspaper and say, wait a minute. I wish my Credit Union would offer that.
So to the extent that you see something someplace else that strikes a chord with you, give us a call and say, I'd like to add that feature, and we will be happy to engage with you to see if it can be available, what are the risks, and the price, and the cost involved with it, and then do we have the-- I guess the scale to be able to offer that service for you.
But there's a number of things that we have on our drawing board that we are working on. We're testing vendors all the time. Can you provide the service? Is it affordable? Essentially, is that what members need? Is there enough demand for it? Those conversations will continue on. If you have ideas, by all means, send them our way.
It has been an absolute delight to answer your questions because you are the membership. I've said it 100 times and I will say it 100 more times. You own this institution. That's what makes you different from anybody else, a mere customer of any other financial institution. You're my boss. And part of your ownership, your membership in the Credit Union, is to allow you to opportunity to tell us what you need from your institution.
It's always a privilege to answer your questions. We'll make some notes for some of the things that you've asked for. We will be studying those maybe as early as Monday morning, but we will be addressing the concerns that you have raised with us. Thank you for the opportunity and for the honor to work for your Credit Union. Now back to you, Lin.
Thank you, Maurice. Wonderful job as always. If any members viewing today have new business or old business, please enter it in the chat box now. While we wait, I'll once again draw your attention to the links on this webpage. There, you will find information about the financial performance of your Credit Union as well as valuable insights and stories from members, members just like you.
The annual report shares information about the important steps the Credit Union took in 2020 to help members impacted by the pandemic. Let me share a few facts with you from the annual report. Over the course of 2020, members saved about $11 million by financing through Local Government Federal Credit Union instead of other financial institutions.
Also, LGFCU offered COVID-specific loan extensions, which means 5,343 of our fellow members didn't have to weigh the option of everyday needs like buying groceries or making their loan payment. In addition, the annual report includes a section about the Credit Union activities that have impacted communities across the state. I encourage you to take a few moments to read through it. Just use the annual report link on this page.
Mr. Chairman, there were no submissions received.
OK. If any member viewing today have an announcement, please enter it in the chat box now. While we wait for any responses, I want to say on behalf of the board how much we appreciate Maurice, Mark, and the rest of the LGFCU staff for their continued diligence during the pandemic this year. Their dedication to service is inspiring and we wish to thank them for all they do for our membership.
We also wish to thank member volunteers who gave their time to serve on our Loan Review and Supervisory committees. And finally, if you're a member of the LGFCU Advisory Council, we thank you for your selfless service to your fellow members. Our Advisory Council is instrumental in helping us identify community needs. This was especially critical this past year. Our council is nearly 600 strong. Serving all of our members across the state, you play a critical role in the success of our Credit Union.
Mr. Chairman, we had several members thank us for the annual meeting today.
Thank you for everyone that attended. Thank you for all being part of this 38th annual meeting. The business meeting is now adjourned.
This concludes Local Government Federal Credit Union's 2021 Annual Meeting. Thank you for joining us during this virtual presentation. You can view our 2020 Annual Report by clicking on the link on this wepbage or by visiting our website at lgfcu.org. Have a great day.
The local governments all over the state and nation are wrestling through these issues and looking for meaningful ways to create opportunities for diversity, for equity, for inclusion, not just within their local governments, but in their communities overall.
So as I think about what can we do as an organization to present the best services and the best institution for our members, we think DEI offers a strategic advantage for us.
Well, it's definitely a hot topic right now and CUNA, the National Credit Union Association, has adopted this eighth principle. So Credit Unions here and there, everywhere, have accepted this and looked at it as a great opportunity to incorporate.
You have this principle. What looks different in Credit Unions because they've adopted this principle?
OK. Because we are principle-driven organizations, we as co-ops, so it starts at the very highest level of governance is the philosophy for what we stand for and what instructs us on our core values. So by having a principle that illustrates that DEI is important to us, then it should order our steps and everything else that we do beyond that.