Personnel Profile: Donna Bland

Donna Bland was named CEO of Golden 1 Credit Union in October after a threemonth stint as interim CEO. She’s a 16-year veteran at the Sacramento-based company. Golden 1 is the largest credit union in California and the seventh-largest in the country, with 600,000 members and $7 billion in assets.

What steps have you taken recently to appeal to state workers?
Golden 1 was established in 1933 to serve California’s state employees. We were the first credit union formed for this purpose and we are the oldest credit union still serving state workers in California. Over the years we have opened many branches and 60 of our more than 280 ATMs are in or near state offices to provide state workers with convenient access to Golden 1 accounts and service.

To help build value-based relationships with our state employee members who are signed up for direct deposit of their paychecks, Golden 1 provides early access to pay when paydays fall on weekends. Our payroll accommodation program was the first to provide early access to payrolls when paydays fall on long holiday weekends at the beginning of the month helping our members when mortgage payments are normally due.

Our state budget payroll loans serve as bridge loans for California legislative employees, including gubernatorial and constitutional appointees, when their paychecks are delayed as a result of a budget impasse. State employees who meet the criteria must be Golden 1 members with direct deposit of their paychecks by June 30 to qualify for this program. And, in 2009 Golden 1 was one of the few financial institutions that accepted Registered Warrants (IOUs) which were issued by the state.

Have other banks stepped back from covering paycheck loans for state workers?
During 2009, very few banks offered to accept the registered warrants that were issued by the state. During an extended period of budget impasse in 2010, many of the banks which previously provided bridge loans for deferred payroll ceased to offer these programs. Golden 1 has typically seen growth in the number of state employee members during these periods and the decreasing number of financial institutions offering loan programs during budget impasse periods has allowed Golden 1 to provide service and value to more affected state employees.

During 2010, Golden 1 provided more than $19 million in state budget payroll loans to California state employees. The vast majority of these loans were provided to our members at 0 percent interest because they were set up for direct deposit of their paychecks at Golden 1. Golden 1 has been fortunate to experience growth even during the difficult economic times recently experienced. Some of this growth has resulted from individuals who were formerly bank customers.

What advantages or disadvantages do credit unions offer compared to standard commercial banks?
Although most of the consumer banking services offered at credit unions and banks are very similar, credit unions such as Golden 1 typically offer better rates overall and low-or-no fees when compared to banks. Banks do tend to offer a much greater array of business banking services.  However, many credit unions are beginning to offer these types of services, too.  

The largest banks typically have more branches and ATMs than credit unions. However, credit unions such as Golden 1 have minimized this differential by providing free access to more than 28,000 ATMs nationwide through the CO-OP Network and free cash-back with purchases at many merchants. Depositing a check is also less dependent on a branch these days with new services such as Golden 1’s Z@PiT, which lets our members make check deposits with the click of a mouse on their home computer. Free online banking services such as Golden 1 Online and Bill Payer also provide 24-hour banking convenience eliminating the need for a branch or ATM. These services are now even available through mobile devices, iPhones and iPads.

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