What Is the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU)?
The term State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) refers to a nonprofit financial institution that is owned by employees of the state of North Carolina. The SECU was founded in 1937 and is one of the largest credit unions in the United States by asset size and number of members. The credit union's main purpose is to provide affordable financial services to its members including checking and savings accounts, loans, mortgages, and investment savings vehicles.
How the State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) Works
Employees of the state of North Carolina founded the SECU in 1937. The union was formed to provide consumer financial services to state and public school employees along with their families. At the time it was developed, the SECU had less than two dozen members and about $450 in assets. As of June 2020, the union's assets grew to $45.2 billion with many as 240 offices across the state that serve more than 1.7 million members. SECU has a network of 1,100 automated teller machines (ATMs) situated in every county in North Carolina.
In order to become a member, individuals must be employed by the state of North Carolina. Federal employees who work for North Carolina state agencies, people who work for the state's public school boards, members of the state's National Guard, certain county employees, and retirees from any of the above also qualify. Membership also extends to certain family members including spouses, siblings, and children of existing members. Those who fall into any of these categories can become members by opening a Share Account—a savings account—with a an initial minimum deposit of $25.
Qualifying individuals can become members of the SECU by opening a Share Account with an initial minimum deposit of $25.
As mentioned above, the main purpose of the union is to provide its members with affordable and accessible financial services. These services include:
- Basic banking services: Checking and savings acccounts
- Loans: Personal, student, automobile loans, and mortgages
- Credit cards
Member deposits with SECU are federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), one of the two organizations that offer deposit insurance—the other being the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Over time, the union expanded its offerings to include investment accounts, estate planning, trust services, and insurance products. SECU’s investment accounts help members save for retirement and education by providing low-cost diversified stock and bond mutual funds. Investment advisors assess a member’s goals and risk profile in order to choose the best mutual fund for the member’s tax-advantaged or taxable investment account. Members who want to invest in stocks, bonds, or other mutual funds can do so online or with the help of assistance representatives. The traditional, Roth, and simplified employee pension (SEP) individual retirement accounts (IRAs) have no service or transaction fees. These accounts require a minimum opening deposit of $25.
- The State Employees’ Credit Union is a credit union owned by employees of the state of North Carolina.
- SECU is the second-largest credit union in the U.S.
- The credit union provides members with basic financial services, investment services, and insurance products.
According to its website, the State Employees' Credit Union actively takes part in local communities by promoting financial literacy and education as well as other outreach services. Among these is the SECU Foundation, which was founded by the union's members. Chartered in 2004, it supports community projects in housing, education, and health care in the state, along with high school and college scholarships, and special grants. Some of these programs include:
- The SECU Commons, which provides housing for homeless families, youths soon to be out of foster care, and autistic young adults
- Good Shepherd, which offers permanent housing to seniors, veterans, and the disabled
- A Chef’s Life, which creates awareness and provides support for local food producers
- The People Helping People Scholarship Program, which sends students to a four-year public university
The foundation is funded by the $1 monthly service charge paid for by members with a SECU checking account.