Mergers have been a survival strategy for Hawaiʻi's small credit unions. For a number of them, that has meant combining forces with Aloha Pacific Credit Union.
It started out in 1936 as the Honolulu City and County Employees Federal Credit Union in 1936 and changed its name to Aloha Pacific in 2007. It has more than $882 million in assets and 54,637 members — numbers that have been growing, in part, as Aloha Pacific has acquired smaller credit unions over the years.
Credit unions are a parallel banking system, each run as a non-profit organization offering financial services to, usually, a relatively small number of customers. As the regulatory burden has grown over the years, it has become more difficult for credit unions with just hundreds of members to stay viable. Since 2007, Aloha Pacific has absorbed the members of credit unions that had originally been founded for employees of such companies as Foodland, First Insurance, Word of Life Church, the Hawaiʻi Newspaper Agency, Oʻahu transit employees and more.
Aloha Pacific has also been growing organically, reaching out beyond Oʻahu. It opened a Las Vegas branch nine years ago, and its first Maui branch earlier this year.
Looking ahead, the credit union plans to add a Kapolei branch and modernize its existing branches. CEO Vince Otsuka anticipates that new investments in security will be needed too, to safeguard the members’ data.