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Why the marine industry needs a credit union

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Early this year a group of marine industry professionals got together to discuss their frustrations with, at that time, the traditional banking industry. Many key topics were discussed, from boat loans to floorplan financing.

A dealer in the group mentioned that he switched his banking to a local credit union and was pleased with his results, but he did say that his credit union fell short meeting all his needs. Most of us had some success working with local credit unions on deals that the traditional banks have declined.

So we as a group agreed that a marine industry federal credit union would be a major asset not only to our day-to-day business but for everyone involved in the marine industry. The group did a little research and spoke to a few other industry leaders, but the concept did not move forward anymore than just a discussion.

With the recent events in the recreational lending business, we all met again to form a Marine Industry Federal Credit Union organizing committee. We outlined the basic structure of the MIFCU, consulted the NCUA office, identified an outside start-up CU consulting firm, and started the business plan. We have also started our required member survey and have received over 100 surveys back from one local region.

The plan is to open the first branch location in Southern California. The reason for California to have the first branch is because the local trade associations have shown tremendous support and understand what a MIFCU would mean to their members. The MIFCU will have all the services that a traditional bank or credit union has plus a few services that this industry needs but are currently not available. The second region will be determined by local trade associations and their members.

A few people have asked, “Why does the marine industry need a CU?” The answer is pretty simple in today’s economic climate. We as an industry need to take control of our own financial destiny. Yes, there will be those people that say there is nothing wrong with the banking system and that they have the perfect floor plan. Some will also say that every boat that does not get sold because of a bank’s decline should not be sold to that buyer.

For those lucky few that are extremely happy with their success and have all the business they can handle, then a MIFCU may not be for you. Don’t get me wrong; we do not believe that a MIFCU will have all the answers. But we as an industry must do something not only for us but for those who follow in our footsteps.

Their will be challenges during the charter process. We have anticipated problems and with the help of our CU start-up consulting firm we will navigate through the process. We are also asking anyone in our industry that can help in anyway please feel free to contact us. For more information on our first MIFCU call me at (949) 400-9001 or e-mail me at yachtmoneyman@yahoo.com.

Chris Lyons
Co-chairman, MIFCU organizing committee

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