The History of FORUM Credit Union
FORUM Credit Union has proudly served Central Indiana since 1941. Originally formed by the employees of Indiana Bell Telephone Company, FORUM has experienced tremendous growth by offering innovative services and considering members’ needs as top priority. The Credit Union began with just volunteers, and that same volunteer spirit exists today. While members’ needs and the Credit Union’s offerings have changed over the years, the primary mission to help members live their financial dreams remains the same.
In December of 1941, the Bureau of Federal Credit Unions granted a Federal Credit Union Charter to Hoosier Federal Credit Union. At that that time, the only members of the Credit Union were employees of Indiana Bell Telephone Company. For many years, the Credit Union was operated from an empty broom closet and the work was accomplished by volunteers, with assistance from the telephone company. Eventually, the Credit Union moved out of the Indiana Bell facility to its own location in the Chamber of Commerce Building in downtown Indianapolis.
Anticipating the growing needs of its membership, the Credit Union employed its first full-time manager who supervised a staff of six employees in the late 1950s. The focus of services was centered on savings and loans, and how to provide opportunities for members to benefit from each other as part of a financial cooperative.
In the 1960’s the computer age began to emerge, as did a new manager for the Credit Union. This manager, John Jeter, would eventually become the CEO and be an integral part of the Credit Union until the end of 1998. With innovation being a key component in member service, the Credit Union also became the first in the state to use data processing.
Hoosier Federal Credit Union was renamed Indiana Telco Federal Credit Union and began to expand its branch facilities to better accommodate members. Corporate operations were moved and a new branch was opened on the northeast side of Indianapolis. The facility in the Chamber building was also maintained as a branch location and would remain in business until 1997. Additionally, Telco Federal began providing services to the 9,000 employees of Western Electric. With member convenience in mind, the Credit Union then opened a branch in the Western Electric plant.
During the early 1970s, the growing Credit Union realized the need for additional office space and purchased a plot of land at 116th Street and I-69. Telco Federal also moved into its first owned facility that housed both the corporate offices and the Fishers branch. The modern branch featured state-of-the-art equipment as well as the Credit Union’s first drive-up facilities to ensure members had an easy and seamless experience.
The Credit Union continued to evolve in the 1980’s. The regulator for credit unions, the NCUA, made a change to the Federal Credit Union Act that allowed credit unions to serve any employee or association group that did not currently work with a credit union. This change allowed the Credit Union to offer financial opportunities and serve members on a new level. The Credit Union’s membership expanded to employees at more than 2,000 companies and organizations (called Select Employee Groups, or SEGs) in the greater Indianapolis area. Due to this charter change, the Credit Union also became available to people who lived and worked in central Indiana and enabled them to successfully take control of their financial lives.
Recognizing the need for accessibility to members, the Credit Union had a branch in every quadrant of the city as well as in downtown Indianapolis by the early 1990s. Telco Federal also moved its corporate offices into a new facility and opened a separate Fishers branch. Both are still located at 116th and I-69 in Fishers.
In an effort to continue providing convenience to its members, Telco Federal became involved in the Shared Branching Network that allowed its members access to four additional branches. These offices, which were located around the city, featured extended weekday hours, drive-ups, and Saturday hours. The Credit Union also began a project of placing ATMs at remote locations for added accessibility.
Telco Federal continued to help members meet their financial goals with the introduction of several new products in the summer of 1995. The first debit card was made available, which was a service that was in high demand. The Credit Union also launched CU Online, a personal computer based account access and bill payment service. This made Telco Federal the first financial institution to introduce a Windows based version of home banking software. CU Online and the bill payment services continue to be widely popular with Credit Union members.
In keeping with the innovative spirit, the Credit Union redesigned its website during the summer of 1996. This update made the website more functional and interactive for member use by allowing them to apply for loans, order checks, obtain information, and access CU Online home banking.
Following the website redesign, the first electronic branch opened in the fall of 1996. This office, located on the circle in downtown Indianapolis, was the first fully automated branch to be opened in the Midwest. With check cashing ATMs and other electronic services, this facility handled the financial needs of members electronically.
In the fall of 1996 a major event took place in the Credit Union industry which greatly impacted Telco Federal. The banking industry scored a major legal victory in its fight to end the open membership policy of the NCUA which prohibited federal credit unions from adding new members from current SEGs and from adding new SEGs unless it met their core common bond. In the best interest of its current and future members, a decision was made to convert to a state chartered credit union. In April of 1997, Indiana Telco Federal Credit Union officially changed its charter to a state charter and became Indiana Telco Credit Union.
Due to the increasing number of non-telephone industry SEGs, the Board of Directors elected to change the Credit Union name to something more reflective of the Credit Union as a whole. The new name, FORUM Credit Union, represented a method of conducting business in the new millennium. FORUM also adopted the tagline “Your Money. Your Voice.” to represent the input members have in their financial well-being as FORUM provides an opportunity for members to successfully take control of their money and make it work harder for them. The three parts in the FORUM swoosh logo represent FORUM members, employees, and our elected Board of Directors.
As the Credit Union continued to grow, several branches were added to provide members with more accessibility throughout the city. The FORUM Conference & Events Center, a state of the art facility for business meetings and social gatherings, also opened as part of the expanded Fishers headquarters building in 2005.
FORUM Credit Union created the Spirit Advisory Council in an effort to facilitate partnerships that positively contribute to the wellbeing of the community. To enhance these partnerships, FORUM employees began selecting a Charity of Choice to sponsor each year. This sponsorship includes a variety of fundraising efforts and donations for employees to participate in and support the charity of choice. The charities have encompassed a variety of Indiana non-profits including Dayspring Center, Prevail, Inc., Agape Therapeutic Riding Services, Hamilton County Humane Society, and The Julian Center.
Member growth continued, and in July 2007 FORUM reached $1 billion in assets. Another important development included the merger between Central Indiana Schools Federal Credit Union and FORUM Credit Union. This decision came as a result of much thought, consideration, and discussion regarding the best interest of all members and in recognition of the cooperative spirit.
In May 2008, the Credit Union provided additional convenience for members in the form of a new location. FORUM opened its first branch inside of a grocery store, Kroger Signature. This location, which still operates as a full-service branch, is located at Hazel Dell Crossing and 146th Street.
In an effort to continue bettering the financial lives of members, FORUM introduced a new service called DeposZip (or mobile deposits) in 2009. This remote/mobile service product enabled members to make electronic check deposits to their FORUM accounts from the convenience of their home computers by using a standard scanning device. The service is available to members who use CU Online and has expanded to now include mobile deposits using a phone or tablet.
To meet our members’ needs through a variety of channels, FORUM introduced its first mobile banking app for Apple® devices in February 2011. The app extended account services to members’ mobile devices and conveniently brought FORUM’s online banking program, CU Online, to users. FORUM has since released multiple apps for various platforms including Android and Apple® devices. Services include mobile check deposits, opening accounts, managing alerts, viewing budgets, and securely communicating with a FORUM Representative.
FORUM launched a new product, YOUR Checking, as a way to give back to its members in 2012. This account, which remains FORUM’s sole checking account aside from student checking, allows members to use it in ways unique to their specific wants and needs while having the option to earn cash back and rewards. This product was designed around the spirit of a credit union acting as a financial cooperative by rewarding members for doing more with the Credit Union.
In May 2014 FORUM Credit Union created a new community initiative, the FORUM Credit Union Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to strengthening the communities FORUM serves by enhancing educational opportunities through educator grants and collegiate scholarships. The Foundation designates $25,000 annually in educator grants and awards up to seven $20,000 collegiate scholarships (paid in $5,000 annual amounts, per eligibility renewal requirements). The FORUM Foundation supports the communities we serve and strives to make a positive impact in the lives of our members through these educational awards.
With FORUM’s continued commitment to provide outstanding service and convenience to members, 2015 brought many exciting offerings. FORUM relocated one of its oldest branches, the East Washington Branch, to a new location nearby. The new location, on Brookville Rd., provides easy access for those visiting the branch and supports future growth.
FORUM also opened a new location in Greenwood. The Center Grove office, which is located in a retail center, was a new concept for FORUM and serves members more economically compared to a standalone branch location. The relocation and new branch opening are just a few ways FORUM is investing in its membership as a financial cooperative.
Keeping members’ data secure has always been of utmost importance to FORUM. FORUM began offering Apple Pay™ to its members in 2015, which allows members to make mobile payments with eligible Apple devices. Card details are never shared or even stored on devices, making members’ payments private and secure. Additionally, chip credit cards, which offer an additional layer of security, were made available to members in 2015.
Always striving to improve members’ financial lives, FORUM continues to add convenience and services to members. In 2016 chip cards were launched for FORUM debit cards and mobile payments for Android and Samsung devices were rolled out. For the fifth consecutive year, FORUM was named as a Best Places to Work by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and FORUM was honored with a Training Top 100 Award. In addition to celebrating our 75th Anniversary of serving members in 2016, FORUM surpassed $1 billion in loans outstanding to members.
FORUM continually improves the technology offered to members and in 2017 the ability for members to more conveniently access their accounts using the FORUM mobile app was added through fingerprint access as an alternative to entering a username and password on iOS devices. The FORUM Foundation marked a milestone in 2017 by exceeding $100,000 in educator grants awarded since 2014 and surpassing $210,000 in collegiate scholarships awarded. Since 2015, the Foundation has awarded scholarships that are supporting 21 students with $5,000 scholarships that are renewable for up to four years of undergraduate study.