Pasadena-based L.A. Financial Credit Union has agreed to merge into the Ventura County Credit Union, creating an institution with $1.3 billion in assets and serving 120,000 members in California and Arizona.

The merger is expected to be completed in early 2020, according to a statement issued jointly by the two credit unions.

Once the merger is complete, L.A. Financial Credit Union will keep its name but become a division of Ventura County Credit Union, which is headquartered in Ventura.

Havasu Community Credit Union in Arizona, which had been a division of L.A. Financial Credit Union, will retain its name but also become a division of Ventura County CU.

Carol Galizia, president and chief executive of LA Financial Credit Union, and Joe Schroeder, president and CEO of the Ventura County Credit Union, declined to comment further on the merger.

Ventura County CU was founded in 1950, and is the largest credit union headquartered in Ventura County with eight offices, 80,000 members and $800 million in assets. L.A. Financial Credit Union was founded in 1937 and has 29,000 members and $400 million in assets. Combined, the credit unions will have a dozen locations, including eight in Ventura County, three in Los Angeles County and one in Lake Havasu, Ariz.

The number of credit unions in Los Angeles County has plummeted by nearly 60% over the past 20 years as a wave of consolidations swept through the industry. While the overall number of community lending institutions has dropped dramatically, the industry itself has grown — with membership, loans and deposits all reaching record levels.

There are 102 credits unions in L.A. County, down from 249 in 2000, according to data provided to the Business Journal by Ontario-based trade group California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

Some of the push to consolidate has come as smaller credit unions struggled to compete with larger nonprofit institutions that offer lower interest rates on loans and higher rates on deposits. Security features tied to online banking, which can be difficult for smaller credit unions to afford, were also a driving factor, according to industry insiders and experts.

Finance reporter Pat Maio can be reached at pmaio@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 556-8329. Follow him on Twitter @patmaio.

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