Hello, this is Paul Groves, your current UUFR Treasurer. As our Board President Laura Dupre said in her remarks at the congregational meeting of June 12th, 2022, during the 2021–2022 fiscal year, the UUFR Board of Directors oversaw the changing of banks from Wells Fargo to North State Bank (NSB). Now I want to (1) give the congregation more detail about the bank changing process and its current status; and (2) provide updated instructions for donating stock to UUFR.
Choosing a New Bank
In early 2021, the UUFR Board asked me to work with the Finance Committee and the Congregational Administrator to evaluate alternatives to Wells Fargo, which provided UUFR with all of our banking functions at that time. The UUFR Board stated that they wanted to support and use a more local or regional banking institution rather than a large national bank like Wells Fargo. There were also concerns about some of the scandals that had affected Wells Fargo over the last several years.
Through the spring and summer of 2021, I worked with Finance Committee and Lewis Copulsky, our Congregational Administrator, to develop a set of criteria for a potential new bank, to compile a list of banks that could meet the criteria, and to visit or call banks. The criteria we used included having a branch office near the church, having a good, reliable online platform, having very good customer ratings, having a good BBB rating, being responsive and friendly, being a local or regional bank, and other criteria. After evaluating several banking alternatives for UUFR including Citizens Bank, Truist Financial, Bank of America, Coastal Credit Union, North State Bank, Self-Help Credit Union, and others, we agreed in September 2021 that we should recommend North State Bank to the UUFR Board.
We felt that North State Bank really met the criteria we were looking for in a bank for UUFR. North State Bank is headquartered here in Raleigh. It has 7 branch offices in downtown Raleigh, Garner, North Hills, North Raleigh, West Raleigh, Wake Forest, and Wilmington. The West Raleigh branch office is very near to the church. NSB has a very good online platform, had good customer ratings of 4.7 out of 5, received very good comments from customer reference calls, had an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and in our meetings with NSB staff were responsive and friendly.
Based on our recommendation, at its October 2021 meeting, the UUFR Board authorized changing banks from Wells Fargo to North State Bank.
Lewis and I began the process of switching banks in November 2021. It has been a complicated process of setting up new accounts at North State Bank, transferring money from Wells Fargo to NSB, and starting to use only North State Bank for UUFR banking functions. I set up 5 new bank accounts at NSB: a main, Operating checking account, a Ministers Discretionary checking account, and money market accounts for the Memorial Fund, the Reserve Account, and for Restricted Funds.
By January 2022, all check payments were being done through NSB main Operating checking account. Over the last several months, Lewis has switched a variety of bank functions from Wells Fargo to North State Bank including auto payments, direct payment of pledges, electronic donations, and several other financial functions. By March of 2022, all money for the Ministers Discretionary Fund, the Reserve Account, and the Restricted Funds had been transferred to NSB. In March, I closed all Wells Fargo bank accounts except for the Operating checking account.
By the end of May of this year, no financial transactions were hitting the Wells Fargo Operating checking account. However, I have not yet closed the Wells Fargo Operating checking because there is one more banking function that Wells Fargo does for UUFR which has not been fully replaced yet. That function is the Brokerage account at Wells Fargo which we use to receive and sell stock donations.
Lewis, the Finance Advisory Committee, and I evaluated alternatives to Wells Fargo’s Brokerage processing. After looking at several alternatives, in February we recommended to the UUFR Board that we use Fidelity Investments for our Brokerage processing which was approved by the UUFR Board. In March, I submitted the application to set up a Brokerage account at Fidelity, which was finalized by Fidelity in late March. In April, we sought and found a member to donate stock through Fidelity so that we could test our use of Fidelity for Brokerage. That test went well and verified that Fidelity would meet our needs for Brokerage processing.
Right now, I am in the process of setting up Electronic Funds Transfer with Fidelity to enable us to transfer the money from the stock sale. Once that is fully set up, we will have completed the last step in the switch of banks and later this summer, our in-coming Treasurer, Bryan Crouch, will be able to close the Wells Fargo Operating checking account and the Wells Fargo Brokerage account.
Anyone who might be planning to donate stock to UUFR should use the new Fidelity Brokerage account and not the Wells Fargo Brokerage account. Here is the information you would need to give your broker to donate stock to UUFR through Fidelity:
- Fidelity DTC# 0226
- Account number: 39900000740313916
If you have any questions about how to donate stock to UUFR, please contact our Operations Director, Lewis Copulsky,, in the church office.