Altura Credit Union on Monday reported net income of $10.3 million for calendar year 2017, a 30.1 percent increase over 2016 and its highest annual income since 2014.

The Riverside, Calif.-based CU said its total assets as of Dec. 31, 2017 were $1.279 billion, a 4.89 percent increase over year-end 2016.

Altura reported its net worth ratio climbed to 11.04 percent (“well capitalized”) as of the end of 2017, up from 10.74 percent at the same time the year before.

“We are very pleased with Altura’s financial performance in 2017,” Jennifer Binkley, Altura’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We experienced year-over-year increases in total assets, net income, total revenue, total net worth, loan production and member shares, among other measures.”

Tommie Shryock, Altura CU’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said loans are the “main contributing area” to the credit union’s rising total assets. He added year-over-year total loan balances increased 12.70 percent.

“Total loan production was 17.3 percent over the 2017 goal, with total auto loans 13.3 percent above goal,” he said, noting member shares were up 4.54 percent and total non-interest income was up 11.4 percent over 2016.

Goals for 2018

According to Binkley, the credit union’s 2018 focus will be on growth.

“Altura’s strong financial position enables us to refine our focus in 2018 on membership retention and expansion through an emphasis on excellence,” Binkley said.

Jennifer Binkley, president and CEO of Altura Credit Union
Jennifer Binkley, president and CEO of Altura Credit Union

Altura said it achieved some “notable” membership growth goals in 2017 among two target groups: millennial members, which grew 14.2 percent, and Latinos, which increased 9.7 percent year-over-year, Binkley reported.

“Going forward, the best way for Altura to achieve our membership goals is to find out what is not working for our members, what things are making it difficult for them to do business with us and then committing to improving them,” Binkley said. “We are tracking member satisfaction monthly in every area, but more importantly, we have empowered our employees to flag faulty processes and services in real time. The management team is committed to fixing the top issue each month and taking corrective actions on the others. So far, we have enhanced 10 processes,” Binkley added.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Altura said it responded to member requests and rolled out revamped mobile banking, bill pay and online banking platforms. In addition to being more secure, the CU said the new platforms give members more self-service options and other tools.

“We were looking to create a big win for our members,” said Sevan Yakinian, vice president, Member Services. “It wasn’t just about a conversion of our existing services, but laying the groundwork for what we can offer going forward. We want this to be dynamic and to keep pace with member expectations. Member feedback has been very positive. User ratings for the mobile app have jumped from 2.5 to 4.7 stars,” he added.

Altura recently updated its mission statement to “Enriching Lives, Empowering Dreams,” as a reflection of this new emphasis. Binkley said, “It’s really about expanding on Altura’s history to deliver a more seamless, quality experience for our members. Our board, management and team are all passionate about the member experience, so everything we do is aimed at making our members’ financial lives better.”

As previously reported in Credit Union Journal, in late 2017 Altura CU elected to stop participating in the CO-OP Financial Services Shared Branch network, saying long lines and wait times in its branches had led to decreasing member satisfaction.

Digging Out

Altura CU, along with every other financial institution in the Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles, suffered terrible losses during the recession due to widespread unemployment and plummeting home values. At the end of 2007 it had more than $1 billion in assets, but then lost $13.7 million in 2008, $20.1 million in 2009 and $5.8 million in 2010.

The turnaround began in 2011, when it reported net income of $8.4 million after $1.5 million in assessments. In 2012 Altura had net income of $17.4 million after paying $589,000 in assessments.

Altura said it had net income of $11.18 million in 2013 — making 2011-2013 the best three-year period in the credit union's history.

It had $11.6 million in net income for full year 2014, then net income of $5.95 million for 2015, followed by net income of $7.86 million in 2016, and $10.3 million in 2017.

Altura's net worth ratio was 8.13 percent at the end of 2007, but dipped to as low as 5.61 percent ("undercapitalized") in December 2009 before rebounding.