ORLANDO, Fla. (12/3/12)--Orlando-based Fairwinds CU has become the official campus financial institution of University of Central Florida (UCF), replacing SunTrust Banks Inc., whose 10-year contract expired earlier this year.
It is the first time that a credit union has been the official banking partner of UFC (Orlando Sentinel Nov. 29).
Fairwinds, a $1.7 billion asset credit union, signed a contract for five and a half years. It will open a branch in a former SunTrust branch on campus in January.
University officials, in noting Fairwinds beat out big banks, said it became clear that the credit union sought to be more than a business partner and recognized it would be investing in students who are future community leaders.
Although many colleges work with their own employee credit unions, Fairwinds is one of a few to land an official university partnership, Mike Bridges, vice president of marketing and communications at the League of Southeastern Credit Unions, told the Sentinel. The university has 60,000 students--a big opportunity for membership growth, he said. He noted that Florida and Alabama credit unions have gained 199,000 members in the past 12 months, the largest single year expansion in decades.
UCF banking professor Stanley D. Smith, a SunTrust customer, told the newspaper that the bank didn't believe it could meet its profitability targets based on the kinds of services the university wanted. The credit union's nonprofit structure made it a better fit for what the university wanted in a partner, Smith said.
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