The head of the world’s largest credit union said Tuesday he sees members’ confidence returning as the economy improves and is committed to opening two more branches to serve the San Diego area.
“We see the confidence coming back in our members. Maybe they put off buying a car during the recession. Now they’re coming back. We’ve never been busier in our mortgage lending,” said Cutler Dawson, president and CEO of Navy Federal Credit Union.
Dawson said new branches will open at Naval Base San Diego and in Bonita by the end of the year. He’s also eyeing Riverside County for expansion, and had visited a Navy Federal branch in Murrieta earlier on Tuesday.
The Virginia-based credit union has more than 5.5 million members, 12,000 employees and 271 branches, including 21 in the San Diego area. Dawson said his institution’s size gives it economies of scale to offer unique services such as a 24-hour call center and branches on bases overseas.
Dawson, a 1970 graduate of the Naval Academy, joined the credit union in 2004 after a 35-year Navy career that culminated in Washington as deputy chief of naval operations. He bought a home on Coronado during a San Diego tour in the 1980s and is always glad to visit what he calls a “very military-centric town.”
With the improvement in the economy, the credit union is now processing $1 billion in mortgages a month. “Every month for the last 36 months we’ve made more loans than the month before,” he said.
Navy Federal will add a net of 600,000 new members this year and sees it’s long-term growth coming from relatives of its core of active-duty military and retirees.
“If we can serve the core of our membership — the active duty folks with the demands that they have on their lives — we can serve anybody,” he said.
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