February 23, 2024
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CoastHills gains federal designation to expand its impact


CoastHills Santa Maria Headquarters. (courtesy photo)

Santa Maria-based CoastHills Credit Union and its board of directors have successfully agreed to convert the financial institution from a state-chartered Credit Union to a federally chartered Credit Union, a move that will help them serve even more people and one day lead to expansion.

Announced Jan. 24, the credit union’s former state charter designation limited them to taking on clients only who live, work or worship in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, Ventura and Santa Cruz counties. 

Now, CoastHills will operate as a Multiple Common Bond charter, according to the press release, allowing them to serve more members and communities through association and employment eligibility.  

“We are over the moon excited about this because we view our success by each person we’re able to help and by removing any barrier for people to do business with us, it just gives us more of an opportunity to serve and help others,” Paul Cook, CEO of CoastHills since 2018, told the Business Times.

For members of the CoastHills Credit Union, nothing changes with this move, as the deposits will continue to be insured by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund.

Cook also said it intends to maintain all of 12 branches across the Central Coast operating.

What does change, however, is the opportunity to help.

Previously, if a person from Los Angeles drove up the coast, seeking a credit union, stumbled upon CoastHills and wanted to take a loan, they would not be able to because they are not a resident of the counties the credit union has operations in.

Chairman of the Board Kris Andrews (left) and CEO/President Paul Cook. (courtesy photo)

Now that is no longer a problem, as anyone from across the country can seek services from CoastHills.

Cook said he and his team proposed the initiative in late 2022 and the board approved it by the beginning of 2023. In April of 2023, CoastHills submitted its paperwork to the National Credit Union Administration and received approval at the end of the year, waiting until January to make it official.

“It’s confusing to people when they want to get a loan from you, but they can’t and credit unions are already a little difficult to understand,” Cook said.

“Now, through the way we’ve structured it and the partnerships that we formed, anybody can use us as their financial institution.”

With assets of more than $1.79 billion, CoastHills Credit Union is the second largest locally-owned financial institution on the Central Coast and offers both consumer and commercial banking products and services.

Moreover, since Cook’s arrival in 2018, the credit union’s assets have grown by over $700 million.

Cook also noted that the credit union has seen more people sign up with them in the past year after the regional banking crisis that stemmed from the fallout of Silicon Valley Bank, though not a significant amount.

“We’ve grown about 4% membership per year over a year and we’ve gained market share in the two counties that that we’re in and San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara County,” Cook said.

“People realize that we’re a large enough credit union now that we’re able to meet some of the more sophisticated needs that both businesses or consumers might have and yet we still are not leaving behind the underserved community that needs help.”

In regards to expansion, Cook said the team is not thinking about that right now, instead opting to focus on helping current members and operations.

“We certainly can consider more opportunities. But for the time being, we’re staying focused where we are,” Cook said.

“We’re going to take care of our member-owners and figure out the best way to serve them. At some point that probably does mean expanding, but that will come with the right planning.”

Email: jmercado@pacbiztimes.com