Sunmark announces plans for state charter conversion

sunmarkSunmark FCU, based in Latham, is the latest New York credit union to announce plans to convert to a state charter. The conversion is the latest example of how changes to the state charter championed by the New York Credit Union Association have made it easier for credit unions to grow to meet member needs.

NCUA recently approved the conversion, and completion of the application process between Sunmark and the state Department of Financial Services is expected in the near future. The credit union’s membership will also have to vote on and approve the plan.

Like all credit unions in New York, Sunmark will remain federally insured by NCUA.

Under its current charter, Sunmark’s field of membership includes those in Schenectady, Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties. With the new state-charter, Sunmark will have the opportunity to expand to Columbia, Greene, Onondaga, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester Counties. The credit union will also be able to serve persons that belong to a business or association that has signed up with Sunmark to make membership available to its employees or association members outside of New York.

“We are excited about making the change from a federal to a state-chartered credit union,” said Sunmark President/CEO Frank DeGraw. “Being a state-chartered credit union will enable Sunmark to reach more consumers looking to get better loan and deposit rates and have access to free financial products and services. This change will enable Sunmark to expand and serve people who work and live in financially underserved communities.”

Sunmark is the third New York credit union to announce plans for a state-charter conversion within the past year. In May, Hudson Valley FCU unveiled their plans for a charter conversion; Last August, Northern Credit Union’s members approved their charter conversion.

The Association has long advocated for improvements and enhancements to the state credit union charter. In recent years, the Association has seen several key improvements to the state charter implemented by working closely with the Legislature, the state Department of Financial Services and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.

The Association has successfully worked with stakeholders in state government to:

  • pass a law that allows state-chartered credit unions to mix and match fields of membership;
  • improve the process for obtaining low-income designations;
  • ease restrictions on school banking programs;
  • lower the minimum interest rate to be paid by state-chartered financial institutions on escrow accounts in connection with loans secured by mortgages on one-to-six family residences; and
  • issue guidance that encourages state-chartered financial institutions to establish banking relationships with properly run marijuana and hemp businesses.

“New York continues to make critical charter improvements, and I’m pleased more credit unions are seriously considering the benefits of the state charter,” said Association President/CEO William J. Mellin. “A strong state charter benefits the entire credit union movement by creating real competition with the federal charter. The Association will continue to work closely with the DFS and state lawmakers to ensure our state charter remains viable and competitive.”

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