BECU To Pay Stipends To Directors, Audit Committee

SEATTLE (11/12/13)--The nation's fourth-largest credit union announced it plans to compensate its directors and Audit Committee members beginning in 2014.

Seattle-based BECU, which has more than 825,000 members and more than $11.5 billion in assets, informed members of the plans Nov. 5 on its News Center website. It noted that effective this past July 28, state law allows state-chartered credit unions such as BECU to reasonably compensate directors and Audit Committee members.

"Officials of all types of financial institutions have growing fiduciary and regulatory responsibilities that demand more time and work," said Todd Pietzsch, BECU manager of public relations. "The payment of stipends will help ensure that BECU continues to retain and attract individuals with board-level strategic and thought leadership.

"It was determined that it is in the best interest of BECU members, as well as consistent with our cooperative nature, to pay a modest stipend to officials that is lower than the median paid by other financial institutions of similar size."

BECU officials will be paid between $14,000 and $25,000 per year, effective Jan. 1, depending on each official's role on the board or committee, the credit union said. It conducted a market review with a third-party consultant to determine the level of the stipends. It also referred website visitors to a board nominations page. Elections will be held at its April annual meeting.

BECU Board Chairman Mike Sweeney, who has been on the board for nearly 10 years, told the Northwest Credit Union Association (Anthem Recap Nov. 8) that the credit union industry "is becoming more and more complex, requiring a very broad set of skills at the director level.

"Generally, our directors are expected to understand and assess this increasingly complex financial, business, legal and regulatory environment. We expect them to have executive-level business experience with a strong sense of community, previous nonprofit board experience and a passion for the credit union movement." He noted his community involvement, business experience and law background support his role on the board.

"This stipend is in recognition of the considerable time and effort our officials give in service to BECU," he said. "Payment of a modest amount to our officials also enhances our ability to attract and retain well-qualified individuals. Being on the BECU board carries with it an incredible fiduciary responsibility, not only to safeguard our members' assets, but also to ensure the future strategic direction of the credit union. Payment of a stipend is a small gesture in comparison."

The Credit Union National Association says that credit unions in nine states can currently pay at least one member of their board and 12 states allow for more comprehensive board compensation (News Now June 3).