Strength in Numbers

November 28, 2016 Andrew Roberto

 

In 1962 a group of 20 government of Guam employees got together and chipped in about 10 bucks apiece to start their own credit union. Fifty-four years later that modest investment has grown into a 50,000-member strong financial cooperative that is still looking to expand. The union charter was amended in 2008 to open membership to all, and its name was also changed to Coast 360. “Our strength is in our members, and their patronage of their credit union,” said the cooperative’s CEO, Gener Deliquina.

An example of that membership strength can be seen in the payday lines at the branches, which members cited as one of their top issues. So Coast 360 recently launched a new mobile banking app to help ease the congestion. “It allows members to transfer funds, make remote deposits, and pay bills from their smartphones,” Deliquina explained. “We like that we are busy, but at the same time we want to reduce the lines.”

 

 

Coast 360 has also purchased a corner lot on Marine Corps Drive in upper Tumon across from GTA, where it plans to build a two-story building for a new Tamuning branch. “It’ll be a much bigger facility. There’s a goal to make that a fully functional branch, so we can also do services like loans there.”

The expansion comes at a time when the credit union is doing well, explained Deliquina. “From a financial standpoint, our net worth ratio is very strong. We’re above 14 percent, and to put that into perspective, the [National Credit Union Administration’s] threshold for a well-capitalized credit union is a 7 percent net worth ratio, so we’re double that.”

Deliquina was named CEO by the Coast 360 Board of Directors in 2014 after serving nine years as CFO. “It was a challenge for me, but at the same time I looked at it as a very good opportunity.” He said his time as CFO and the support of the senior management team made for a smooth transition. “I had a good understanding of how the credit union worked, its direction, and how to keep it moving forward toward our strategic plan.”

 

Aside from ensuring the success of Coast 360, Deliquina is also a dance instructor

 

He moved to Guam from Zambales, Philippines with his parents and siblings in 1979, graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 1987, and earned a BBA in Accounting from the University of Guam in 1992. He was part of an internship program with the Department of Administration and was hired right out of graduation. “It was great, I definitely learned a lot. I worked with a lot of professionals,” Deliquina said. “I was at DOA for nine years and then moved over to BBMR (Bureau of Budget and Management Research) for three years, before I was hired at the credit union in 2005.”

While Deliquina has tried to learn something from all of his teachers and bosses, he said his greatest mentors were his parents. “They provided an upbringing that taught me respect, and just continually pushed my education. They’d tell me, ‘No one can take your education away from you.’ “

His late father was a Navy civilian worker, and his mother was an elementary school teacher for more than 50 years in the Philippines and Guam. “I remember them going to parent-teacher conferences, even when I got straight A’s they would take the time to come and meet the teachers. They would tell them, ‘Yes, he’s got straight A’s, but we’re pretty sure there’s something he can work on,” Deliquina reminisced, laughing. “They pushed me very, very hard. I credit them for that.”

Deliquina is also a Certified Public Accountant, but crunching numbers is not his only calling in life. He recounts a time in high school when he got together with a group of friends to enter a talent competition. They called themselves “La Conga’s” because they did a dance routine to the Gloria Estefan song of the same name. “From that point on I developed a real passion for dance,” Deliquina said.

Dancing also helped pay for college when he took a job with the Sandcastle dinner theater shows in Tumon. He also began teaching dance to younger kids at Paradise Fitness Center, and the exposure paid off. “I saw some interest from others so I decided to open up a small studio in Maite called the Fusion Dance Center.” Another motivation was that studios were scarce in Guam when he was growing up. “Back in the day our group would go to the Ypao Beach amphitheater, and we’d get chased out. We were just a group of kids wanting to find a place to rehearse.”

All these years later, Deliquina is still in the dance business. His studio has moved to Tamuning, and his classes have grown from 10 kids to an average of 200 students during the dance season. “I’ve gone from teaching all the classes in the studio to just one now. I’m just managing it from behind the scenes now, for the most part. But I still find it very rewarding, especially when we start to see the kids perform their routines and recitals.”

 

To say his students do well in competition is a humble understatement. 

He is especially proud when he takes the advanced students to national competitions. “To be honest, they do quite well. We have a lot of talented kids here, not just the Fusion Dance Center, but Guam in general,” Deliquina said. “As a CPA, I think most people would be surprised to hear that I’m involved in dance, but I find that it complements each other. Both require hard work, commitment, and dedication.”

 

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