Membership in Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union means co-ownership in one of the strongest credit unions in the country.
Over sixty years ago, a small group of Northrop employees applied for permission to organize and operate a credit union as a benefit to all employees of Northrop Aircraft Company. On August 29, 1946, the Northrop Aircraft Credit Union was officially chartered and opened for business. The newly organized credit union's philosophy to provide a safe place to save and offer loans at fair rates became the cornerstone of solid financial stability in subsequent years.
In 1948, Walter Gage, Personnel Manager for Northrop Aircraft Company and one of the original incorporators of Northrop Aircraft Credit Union, was appointed the Credit Union's general manager. With a staff of four, he started the long journey of providing needed financial services to Northrop employees and their families.
As Northrop grew, so did its credit union. On February 3, 1959, the Credit Union changed its name to Northrop Credit Union to reflect its mission to serve all Northrop employees. By 1964, 63.4% of Northrop's 11,899 employees were members.
In November 1965, the Credit Union family was saddened by the untimely death of Walter Gage, its general manager for 17 years. Mary Delaney, one of the first women in Northrop's Management Club, was appointed general manager on December 1, 1965.
August 1976 marked the retirement of Mary Delaney. During her eleven-year leadership, the Credit Union grew from $3.5 million in assets to over $40 million in assets with 28 full-time employees serving 18,621 members.
Marv Peiffer was appointed the Credit Union's third general manager on August 16, 1976. New branch facilities were opened at the Aircraft Division's Technical Center in Hawthorne, at the West Complex location in El Segundo and at the Defense Systems Division in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. In mid 1979, a new multi-service Credit Union headquarters facility was dedicated at the Hawthorne Airport Administrative Building. During this period of expansion and growth, the asset size of the organization doubled. During 1980, the Share Draft and Direct Deposit of net paycheck programs were introduced as membership increased to 30,868.
The Credit Union's current president and CEO, Stan Swenson, was hired as the its fourth General Manager on May 24, 1982. That year also marked the introduction of the Individual Retirement Account and Money Market Savings Account. This period of deregulation of the financial services industry and dynamic growth of Northrop Corporation saw the Credit Union's assets skyrocket from $87.8 million to $186.8 million during the 4-year period. Membership increased from 35,500 to a record high of nearly 47,000 in 1987. Loans outstanding more than doubled from $52.8 million to $136.3 million and reserves increased to $12.9 million.
By 1985, during its 40th year of service, the Credit Union's assets reached $100 million, a remarkable figure considering that just 11 years prior its assets were just over $20 million. Noticeable during 1986 was the growing sophistication of the Credit Union's automated delivery systems including its no-fee Share Draft Accounts, NetPaycheck program, and Norteller and Star System ATMs. At the close of 1991, the Credit Union's 45th anniversary year, yet another milestone was attained as assets surpassed the $200 million mark closing at $211.8 million.
While 1992 proved to be difficult for some financial institutions, Northrop Employees Federal Credit Union continued to succeed and prosper, ending the year at a record assets high of $233.5 million. Responding to member requests, Flight Plan Financial Services, Inc., a wholly owned Credit Union subsidiary, was incorporated to offer investment and insurance products. On June 8th, Northrop Grumman chairman, president and CEO, Kent Kresa, dedicated the opening of our 26,000 square foot Main Office and headquarters at the Electronics Systems Division in Hawthorne, California. By joining the CU Service Centers and CU Deposit Network, the Credit Union added another 116 deposit locations. 1993 began with the Credit Union expanding service to Northrop employees in Norwood, Massachusetts and, during September 1995, the Credit Union expanded services with a branch opening at a newly acquired Northrop Grumman site in Lake Charles, Louisiana. 1996 ended with the relocation of its branch in Lancaster, California, to a new, more convenient location. The end of 1997 marked the opening of a new branch to serve the employees at the St. Augustine, Florida, site. The Credit Union branch was moved to a permanent location there with a Norteller ATM in May of 1998. The Credit Union's growth was marked by assets in excess of $265 million as of April 1998.
The Credit Union began the new millennium by merging with two credit unions in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area. With these credit unions, Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union inherited an expanded field of membership as well as five new branches.
On-line banking became available to members all over the nation when the Credit Union launched its Internet branch alternative, the_Max! eBranch, following a rigorous test and acceptance period. This versatile tool provides members with outstanding reliability, convenience and security from an Internet connection. In 2001, Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union merged with the Metro Employees Federal Credit Union, further expanding the field of membership to include Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees. It also acquired a new branch in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. By the end of 2001, Northrop Grumman FCU assets had grown to more than $362 million with an occupationally and geographically diverse membership of over 50,000 nationally.
Despite the challenges brought about by a sluggish economy and dynamic changes in member demographics, 2002 proved to be a banner year for Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union as evidenced by growth in shares, assets and membership. Shares grew at record levels as investors pulled money out of an uncertain stock market with a heightened appreciation for the security offered by the Credit Union’s insured savings. Loans and assets grew as borrowers enjoyed the expanded buying power of extremely low interest rates for both consumer and real estate loans. Finally, as Northrop Grumman Corporation expanded its influence into every region of the United States, the Credit Union was busy implementing service solutions to a varied and geographically disbursed membership base. The Credit Union finished 2002 with $396 million in assets with a membership base exceeding 55,000.
During 2003, thousands of members chose to enjoy the many time- and money-saving benefits of the_Max! eBranch with free bill payer. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, Flight Plan Financial Services, Inc., the Credit Union implemented new dental and vision coverage aimed to serve the special needs of retirees. A new branch was opened in McLean, Virginia, to serve the growing population of Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union members in that area. The Credit Union added more value to its MasterCard program by offering low rates, rebates and rewards. During the last half of 2003, a special low fixed rate auto loan promotion provided nearly 1,000 members with more than $16 million in funding for new and used vehicles. With record low real estate rates, the Credit Union provided over $96 million in real estate loans to members to refinance or purchase homes. The year ended with over 58,000 members and assets up 17.3 percent from the previous year in excess of $466 million.
Throughout 2004, the popular 3.9%/4.9% Fixed Rate Auto Loan program continued to provide low interest rate loans to members for new and used vehicles. Members funded nearly 2000 low interest rate auto loans totaling $36.25 million. A new branch office and ATM went into operation to serve the employees at Northrop Grumman's F-35 Building in El Segundo, California. With the assistance of its wholly-owned subsidiary, Flight Plan Financial Services, Inc., the Credit Union made available an array of voluntary insurance options to Northrop Grumman employees in the Space Technology and Mission Systems sectors and to NGC retirees. the_Max! eBranch service expanded to over 16,000 users managing their Credit Union accounts online, with over 2,300 using the convenient and free bill payer feature. The year 2004 ended with assets of $523 million, a 12% increase over 2003.
As a reflection of member confidence, the Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union continued a pattern of steady growth throughout 2006 finishing the year with $570 million dollars in assets with more than 40% of Credit Union income returned to members in the form of dividends on savings. Improvements were implemented to remote access channels providing members with more services and better accessibility including the newly redesigned the_Max! eBranch with expanded account services, an improved bill payer environment, and the implementation of eStatements. In addition to an improved eBranch, during 2006 the Credit Union also implemented online consumer loan origination to complement the addition of online mortgage loan origination that had been added in 2005. Completing the symphony of eBranch services, the Credit Union began offering an easy, convenient and secure method of "taking ownership" with the implementation of online membership origination and account funding.
With assets over 600 million dollars by the close of 2007, the Credit Union continued a steady pattern of growth in assets, loans and shares. A clear demonstration of member confidence and the value of Credit Union membership was seen in the 34% growth in regular term (CD) account balances and a 17.5% increase in IRA term account balances. Throughout 2007, NGFCU continued to price products and enhance its services to amplify the Credit Union's partnership with members in fulfilling the dream of affordable home ownership, low rate auto loans, wealth accumulation through savings and investment, and access to a variety of time-saving service options. As part of that effort, the Credit Union introduced the popular fixed rate HELOC program, strategically increased term account rates, and continued to offer an array of low-cost auto loan options. Expanding service channels across the Northrop Grumman landscape, NGFCU installed a deposit-taking state-of-the-art imaging ATM in Herndon, VA.
During 2008, NGFCU members faced many of the same challenges brought on by the economic downturn that created concerns for most Americans. With stock values dropping and savings rates falling in 2008, it became more difficult to find a worthwhile return on investment without sacrificing security. Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union members had one advantage over the rest of the population in that their savings and loans at NGFCU were unsullied by the failings suffered by other financial institutions. Northrop Grumman FCU continued to provide an above market return on savings while maintaining affordable loan interest rates and terms. To support member efforts to securely build wealth, the Credit Union offered among the highest savings rates in the country during 2008. Demonstrating continued member confidence in the value of NGFCU membership, term (CD) account balances increased by 10% and IRA term account balances increased by 19%, while assets expanded by 14% to nearly $685 million by the close of 2008.
During 2009, NGFCU continued to provide members with extraordinary benefits in an economic environment that caused many other financial service organizations to struggle. Because of our strong capital position and conservative lending policies, NGFCU demonstrated that it was better prepared to deal with the turmoil in the financial sector than most other institutions. In fact, during these difficult times, your credit union was able to offer among the most competitive savings rates and low interest loan rates anywhere in the financial services industry. This accounts for the nearly 13% growth in assets, 21% growth in savings and 9% growth in loans. Even during these difficult economic conditions, the Credit Union deployed significant resources to offer more service across a broader area of the Northrop Grumman Corporation landscape and for Los Angeles Metro employees including several new state-of-the-art deposit accepting ATMs. In the fall of 2009, a new free-standing branch was opened nearer the NGC Site 4 location in Palmdale, California.
While 2010 was a challenging year for many businesses in the financial services industry due to the turbulent economy, NGFCU sustained its trend of vibrant growth trajectories. By the end of 2010, the appeal of attractive dividend rates resulted in member savings growing by an astonishing 12%, closing the year at $750.5 million. Prudent member borrowing patterns, concerns with the general economy, difficulties within the auto sales market, the continued slow pace of home sales, and a general aversion to accumulating more debt, resulted in loans to members dropping a modest 1% to $418.5 million. The net result of all this financial activity ended in assets growing by 10% to close the year at $850.7 million. Notwithstanding the persistent economic challenges encountered in 2010, the Credit Union proudly continued its judicious expansion of new service outlets for members across the NGC landscape. A major contributor to the Credit Union's product success during 2010 was the NGFCU MasterCard offering a trusted alternative to competing credit card programs.
We continued our efforts during 2011 to weigh the effects of shrinking interest rates on member savings and loans against the backdrop of a slow recovery from the economic challenges of the past few years. The tentative national economy created a less than surefooted foundation for growth in many of the Credit Union’s usual success indicators, but in spite of all that, it proved to be a year marked by steadfast stability. Closing 2011 at $767.8 million in total share balances, members continued to recognize the value, security and long-term advantages of keeping their money safely deposited in an NGFCU savings program. The somewhat cautious but steady loan origination encouraged by some of the lowest loan rates in decades resulted in loans increasing to $420.3 million dollars in loans outstanding. The net result of all this financial activity ended in assets growing by a respectable 1.2% to close the year at $879.2 million. Contributing to the Credit Union’s stability in 2011 was member access to NGFCU’s extremely low interest rates on home loans and auto loans while experiencing very low delinquency and charge-off ratios.
In spite of market driven low loan rates and budget driven low savings rates, your credit union was able to make significant improvements in service, while maintaining a balanced approach to its pricing of savings and loan rates. During 2011, many more of our ATMs were upgraded to imaging ATMs that allow members to make a deposit and then walk away with a printed copy of the items deposited. One of these new imaging ATMs was installed at the Northrop Grumman corporate offices in Falls Church, Virginia. During the year, NGFCU also expanded dedicated education and outreach throughout the Northrop Grumman and Metro landscapes. Additionally, the_Max! eBranch was completely redesigned with easier navigation, improved security, and additional services, including remote deposit from a home or office-based computer equipped with a scanner.
This is the reality that NGFCU® dealt with in 2012: very low savings rates along with very low return on investments and very low loan interest rates, resulting in a narrowing margin between our payout to savers and our earnings from investments and loans. Amazingly, in light of the slow economic recovery, the Credit Union enjoyed another year of modest growth in each of the indicators that show we are doing a good job for our members while maintaining the necessary stability to invest in cutting edge access services.
Closing 2012 at $798 million in total share balances, a 4% annual growth, even though rates were at an all-time low, showed that saving was still a very real priority to our members. In stark contrast to the unwavering appeal of saving to our members was the $427.5 million in loans to members that saw modest growth of 1.7% during 2012. The 53.5% loan to share ratio achieved by the organization demonstrated the competitive nature of the loan market as well as the reluctance of many members to borrow. These factors encouraged the Credit Union to rethink its lending processes in light of the financial circumstances many members have encountered. Our MasterCard’s popular 4.99% SmartTransferSM program, with no balance transfer fee, gave many members the opportunity to ease some of the burden of high interest rate debt by lowering their interest rate until the transferred balances are paid off.
It became our challenge in 2012 and continuing into 2013 to make our loans more attractive and accessible to more members. To that extent, we began the expansion of our marketing channels to keep members better informed about our reliable products and services. Also, we implemented a more sophisticated and progressive approach to lending, both in terms of member qualification and rate structure. As Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union continued to expand its presence across the NGC and Metro landscapes, new technologies to enhance accessibility for members “on the go” were implemented in 2012, including the ability for members to remotely and securely deposit checks using their Android phones and iPhones. Additionally, the Credit Union completed the upgrade to imaging ATMs at all its locations where these types of ATMs are feasible, including new ATMs at NGC sites in Palmdale, California; Sierra Vista, Arizona; Charlottesville, Virginia; and an office in Redondo Beach, CA.
2013 was definitely a rebound year, for both the U.S. economy and Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union. Almost all major U.S. economic indicators improved. Employment grew, adding 2.7 million non-farm jobs and unemployment rates declined. Wages and disposable income were both up. Not surprisingly, vehicle sales and overall consumer consumption were also up. New vehicle sales reached 15.5 million units, up almost 8% from 2012. Home sales were the highest since 2006. At the same time, overall inflation and interest rates remained either at, or very near, record low levels. Economists are generally optimistic that these favorable trends will continue into 2014.
For the Credit Union, 2013 saw a change in focus towards more consumer lending. This is clearly seen in the loans granted data. There was an impressive gain of $26.5 million in consumer loans granted compared to 2012. The total loans granted balance of $167.7 million was the best ever recorded by NGFCU. Not surprisingly, but equally impressive is the fact the loans granted per member ratio also reached record levels for the Credit Union. Simply put, NGFCU is granting more loans to more members than ever before.
Looking closer at the key consumer loan balances shows some very impressive gains. MasterCard balances were up 59%, reaching a record high of $36.1 million. These gains were undoubtedly influenced by the Credit Union’s innovative SmartTransfer program, which offers a 4.99% rate fixed for as long as it takes to pay off third party balances transferred to NGFCU’s MasterCard. This is a high value member program that continues to drive balances into the Credit Union. As a point of reference, revolving credit balances in the entire U.S. grew only a little over 1% in 2013. Without question, SmartTransfer is increasing NGFCU’s market share for credit cards.
There was a sharp rebound of NGFCU new vehicle loanbalances, which grew 48% in 2013. Used vehicle balances grew at almost twice the rate seen in 2012. At $61.5 million, NGFCU’s used vehicle loan portfolio reached record levels. Since loan offers tend to attract new members, we also saw an increase in membership that was at the highest rate since 2004.
On the deposit side of the ledger, regular share balances grew by 7.9%, share draft balances grew by 5.8% and money market account balances grew by 3.4%. Total deposit balances grew by 2.9% overall, to $821.1 million. NGFCU’s average fees paid per member remained about half that of the 2013 U.S. credit union average.
Email marketing was used extensively in 2013. This communication channel has the dual benefits of lower cost and precise response measuring. Also introduced was the NGFCU4U.com promotional microsite. This mini website provides the benefit of focusing on current promotional offers to members and prospective members.
We thank our members for their continued support. It is this very support that makes the not-for-profit financial cooperative the best form of retail financial service. NGFCU is focused on giving members the highest return for their participation. In short, we intend to be a superior choice for our members.
2014 continued the slow but steady improvements in the economy, aided by the benefits of increased consumer and business spending, a stronger housing market and lower fuel costs. The year also demonstrated your Credit Union’s strengths, which include serving members with a common employer bond. United States credit union membership exceeded 100 million members at the end of 2014. In addition to the membership growth, assets grew to over $1.1 trillion. Despite this growth, the number of credit unions has steadily declined at about 3% annually since 2000. The result of accelerating asset growth and declining number of institutions means the average credit union in 2014 was three times larger in inflation-adjusted current dollars, from $60 million in assets in 2000 to almost $180 million in 2014. Credit unions achieved this growth in many ways, but primarily through expanding their eligible fields of membership. In 2000, 67% of credit unions had single or multiple employer based membership eligibility. But in 2014, a much smaller 36% of credit unions had members who qualified through their employer. Today, there are proportionately more credit unions without employer or company-based membership bonds. The sponsor employees that make up our membership tend to be high achievers, with more education and greater income than the population at-large. Accordingly, the collective deposits also tend to be larger than average and the loans made to our members carry a lower risk of default. As a result, the Credit Union was able to generate more income per member.
2014 continued the slow but steady improvements in the economy, aided by the benefits of increased consumer and business spending, a stronger housing market and lower fuel costs. Collectively as a membership, we were able to achieve the following:
- Investment income per member at almost five times the national average
- Fee income per member at about half the national average
- Gross income growth of 12%, more than three times the national rate
- Net income growth of 31%, four times the national rate
- Non-interest expense to income ratio less than the national average
- Term Deposits up almost 8% in total balances, while the credit union industry declined by more than 1%
- Real estate and new vehicle loan balances grew faster than national averages
In several memorable ways, 2015 was a milestone year. Northrop Grumman Federal Credit Union (NGFCU) created the following all-time record highs:
- $1.013 billion in assets
- $895.4 million in share deposits
- $471.8 million in loan balances
- $119.0 million in total capital reserves
Achieving $1 billion in assets placed NGFCU in the top 4% of the nation’s 6,147 credit unions as of December 31, 2015. On an asset-per-member basis, we ranked in the top 2%. While NGFCU entered a new asset category, it continued to rank very high in those metrics that reflect product value and member trust. Here is how NGFCU ranked among all the nation’s credit unions as of December 31, 2015:
- Ranked in the top 1% with the lowest vehicle loan rates
- Ranked in the top 10% with the highest money market rates
- Ranked in the top 2% with the highest average term account balances
- Ranked in the top 10% with the highest average balance for checking accounts
- Ranked in the top 0.5% with the highest average credit card balances
By focusing on the specific needs of our Northrop Grumman, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) and MetroLink employees, NGFCU was able to provide value not matched by retail alternatives. NGFCU expanded service to 12 states, with 23 branches and 42 ATMs, most at our members’ work locations. Besides having convenient work location branches and ATMs, our Business Development Team made nearly 400 visits to 29 outlying work sites in 2015.
This focus on specific employee group needs resulted in balance increases in our checking (+17%), credit cards (+9%) and home equity loans (+9%) that were significantly higher than national rates in 2015. The strong NGFCU performance in 2015 was accomplished in an economic environment that, while remaining positive, saw dramatic volatility in the national and international stock markets. This uncertainty in the equities market, despite continued U.S. employment growth, consumer spending, business investment, industrial production and construction, led the Federal Reserve to delay its much anticipated Fed Funds interest rate hike to the end of 2015.
Our namesake sponsor, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC), won the U.S. Air Force contract for the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) program in 2015. This single program will support thousands of jobs for decades of employees eligible for NGFCU membership and is only one of a multitude of high demand NGC projects. Paralleling NGC’s successes, Metro had many achievements in 2015, including: celebrating 25-years of Metro Rail service and the 10th Anniversary of the Metro Orange Line, securing funding for the Crenshaw/LAX Purple Line, appointing a new CEO, initiating a regional transportation district collaboration for the passage of Senate Bill 767 for additional tax revenue and receiving national attention for Metro’s Complete Streets policy, which provides improved integration of all users of public streets. Metrolink, the nation’s third largest commuter rail line by route miles, saw its annual ridership increase to almost 12 million passengers over six Southern California counties. MetroLink also won $41 million in a competitive grant from the California State Transportation Agency. These funds will be used to fund up to nine low-emission Tier 4 locomotives. In addition, MetroLink announced plans to expand its service area for the first time in 22 years.