TAMPA, Fla.-Florida Central CU said that in the new year it plans to stick with the same growth strategies that have helped it to prosper over the past year, but will make one adjustment-slightly lower deposit rates.

But that will come gradually, said CEO Laida Garcia, who explained the credit union, even with 9% loan growth, can't keep pace with increasing deposits. "We will lower rates very slowly so we don't disrupt the nice member gains we have been making."

Florida Central has grown its membership by 6% annually the last two years and believes the flight by consumers from banks will continue, A strong onboarding program (CU Journal, Oct. 29) and staff highly skilled at cross-selling are turning many new members into profitable relationships, said Garcia. "Our growth comes from taking advantage of every opportunity to interact with members."

But growth in deposits has to be slowed with the credit union quickly adding assets the last few years, approaching now $400 million. The loan-to-share has ratio has been dropping and is at 65%. Garcia said in dropping rates Florida Central will do its best not to send members to competitors. "Staff have been trained to recommend investments through our CUSO."

Garcia noted Florida Central opened three branches last year in some high-traffic locations. "Growth for us is not damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead, it's more gradual growth and taking advantage of opportunities that make business sense for us."

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