1st Advantage expanding footprint in greater Peninsula region

1st Advantage Federal Credit Union looks to expand its footprint in Hampton Roads.

In 2014, York County-based 1st Advantage surpassed $600 million in total assets, improved its net worth and grew loans by 7 percent over the year before, President and CEO Paul Muse told members during the credit union’s 63rd annual meeting on Thursday.

“Healthy loan demand was fueled by competitive pricing and a commitment from our colleagues to help our members save money,” Muse said.

1st Advantage funded $174 million in new loans in 2014 and invested to enhance its mortgage program, including adding government-guaranteed VA mortgages for military members and veterans, he said. More than 70 percent of the credit union’s loans are first mortgages and car loans.

1st Advantage, along with other local credit unions and banks, is not alone in its loan growth. The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) reported in March that loans at federally insured credit unions grew to their highest level since 2005. Outstanding loan balances at credit unions nationwide grew 10 percent from the end of 2013 to the end of 2014.

1st Advantage now has more than 62,000 members, adding 5,955 member accounts in 2014, Muse said. Deposits grew 4.6 percent to $512 million with the credit union outperforming its peers by lending 85 cents of every dollar on deposit.

The credit union is aiming to make banking more convenient for members and plans to release a smartphone app that will allow for mobile check deposit, Muse said. It recently started offering Apple Pay.

“Really none of this would have been possible without the hard work and dedication of all of the colleagues at our credit union,” Muse said.

Now with 13 branches, 1st Advantage completed its merger with the $24 million NWS Federal Credit Union on Oct. 1, 2013, and finished integrating it on Feb. 1, 2014. That added a Naval Weapons Station Yorktown branch and a Grafton branch at 6035 George Washington Memorial Highway.

The merger increased expenses and contributed to a 47 decrease in profit from $4.9 million in 2013 to $2.6 million in 2014, according to the annual report. Non-interest expense increased 8.4 percent, or by $2.3 million. Net interest income declined 5.6 percent with an increase in the provision for loan losses and non-interest income (including fees and service charges) decreased by 1.8 percent.

Still, 1st Advantage improved its net worth ratio to 11 percent, beating the NCUA’s 7 percent standard for a well-capitalized credit union.

The financial statements in the annual report compare fiscal years ending June 30 in 2013 and 2014. As of March this year, the credit union continued growing its assets to $622.8 million, according to an NCUA online filing.

1st Advantage, formerly Fort Eustis Federal Credit Union, started in 1951 with the goal of “people helping people,” as its motto says. To that end, 1st Advantage granted more than 5,600 loans to credit-challenged members and contributed $108,000 to local nonprofits and programs in 2014.

More News