The Financial Education Alliance of Hawai‘i (FEAH) while fairly new in its current name, originated from the demise of The Institute of Financial Education (IFE). Formed by a small group of savings and loan association officers in 1921 during the years of the Great Depression that crippled the nation’s economy, IFE’s only office was located in Chicago, IL. Its creation was designed to educate those in the savings and loan industry who wished to further their knowledge of the business in which they were engaged.
The IFE remained fallow in the decades following, until the end of World War II when personnel from all branches of the Armed Services that had fought in the European and Asian theaters returned home to resume civilian lives. The demand for construction and mortgage financing was enormous and the savings and loan associations grew tremendously during this post-war era. This required the hiring of people, many of whom were “on-the-job trainees” as this field was entirely new to them. Farsighted management in the industry realized that their employees needed formal training, and over a period of time, enrolled in the Chicago’s IFE. As enrollments became continuous, various cities throughout the nation formed regional chapters of their own, creating a compendium of dedicated people who through their Boards of Directors, planned courses to be made available to member financial institutions. When Hawaii joined the national IFE in 1962, the first president was Sam Okinaga of then State Savings & Loan Association. The Hawaii regional chapter was designated as Chapter No. 177.
During the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, the Savings & Loan Associations across the Nation and in Hawaii enjoyed continued success and growth that seemed beyond end, and who could possibly envision that they would undergo a painful evolution and little by little, the few remaining would disappear from the nation’s economic scene completely. By the 1990’s, the regional IFE chapters were whittled down to just a few.
What could be done to continue with a financial education program? Ms. Ariel Chun, CEO of the University of Hawaii Federal Credit Union (FCU) and a former president of the IFE while employed at First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Honolulu, suggested enrolling credit unions to fill the void. The University of Hawaii FCU was allowed to attend IFE Board meetings as an associate member and credit unions began enrolling in seminars and educational courses providing needed income and support. With that, credit union participation grew in Chapter No. 177 with the assignment of liaisons from various credit unions along with the privilege of serving as voting Board members. An important addition was the Hawaii Credit Union League (HCUL) with their liaison and their ability to publicize the Chapter’s education programs and seminars through the HCUL’s newsletters and network.
Savings and Loan Associations would soon be lost in history while the few remaining became savings banks. The national IFE in Chicago, IL had no options other than to eventually shut down operations after a brief merger with American Institute of Banking in 1999. Hawaii’s Chapter regained strength and was one of only two chapters remaining nationwide, the other being New Orleans but alas, neither could survive without the IFE infrastructure. The Hawaii chapter wanted to retain the name of The Institute of Financial Education but the IFE corporate counsel, when contacted, wished to archive the copyrighted name, so at the Hawaii Chapter’s suggestion, became “The Financial Education Alliance of Hawai‘i (FEAH)” on July 12, 2001, and is duly registered with the Hawaii State Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and incorporated with a tax-exempt status.
Today, FEAH is a thriving non-profit financial education entity offering three semesters of classes (Spring, Summer & Fall) and a number of seminars each calendar year. The Board of Directors includes representatives from Territorial Savings Bank, Aloha Pacific FCU, HawaiiUSA FCU, Hawaii State FCU, Pearl Harbor FCU, Hickam FCU, Navy FCU, University of Hawaii FCU, Hawaii Central FCU, Hawaii FCU, Kamehameha FCU, West Oahu Community FCU, and the Hawaii Credit Union League. Classes and seminars include subjects on banking compliance, banking skills, “soft” sales skills and techniques, supervision, leadership, and personal and professional growth and development topics. FEAH also offers an awards program whereby participants can garner credits towards an array of Award Certificates.
(Above is an excerpt from “The Financial Education Alliance of Hawai‘i - A History of Its Origin” by Mr. Howard Wong, FEAH’s President Emeritus; September 2007)