Steven Post has been a staunch supporter of credit unions for more than 35 years, on the local, state, and national levels.
“I always believed they had great potential,” he says, “and I still do.”
After 24 years, Post retired as president/CEO of $680 million asset Vermont State Employees Credit Union in 2014. He also served several years as the chief financial officer at the Montpelier, Vt.-based credit union.
Looking back, Post sees early signs that a credit union career would be a good match for him. In college, he majored in economics and sociology. “Both of those fields fit well with what credit unions do,” he observes.
Still, when he moved from Denver to Vermont in the late 1970s, he had no experience with credit unions or cooperatives to that point. But that was about to change.
After settling in the small town of Rochester, Vt., Post needed a job. A neighbor steered him to White River Credit Union, where Post was hired as a part-time collections officer.
“That was my first exposure to credit unions and to the cooperative business model,” Post says. “I liked what I saw.”
He stayed at White River for a decade, eventually becoming the manager, before moving on to Vermont State Employees. His successor at Vermont State Employees, president/CEO Robert Miller, describes Post as having “a laser focus on members. ‘Do what’s right for the member’ was Steven’s mantra.”
As one example of putting those words into action, Post and his staff developed a savings product he’s especially proud of. It’s a savings account that offers a significantly higher interest rate for the first $1,000 of deposits (about 4%, versus 0.25% at the time it launched).
“We sort of flipped the idea of a tiered savings account on its head,” Post says. “This account was designed to attract young savers and to reward them for establishing a savings habit.”
It also aligns with the “we’re all in this together” mindset of cooperatives, Post explains. The account sends a message that “every member’s dollar is of equal value to the credit union,” he says.
Known for his collaborative style, Post worked with regulators and legislators. “But I also pushed them, perhaps sometimes beyond their normal comfort zone. I tried to be a strong spokesperson for the importance of cooperative financial services.”
Post drew nationwide attention when he took a stand against the banking industry in 2012. He decided to challenge a Vermont statute that allowed only banks to use the word “banking.”
“As much as I’ve done over the years to differentiate between what credit unions and banks do and how they do it,” he says, “our members have always felt they’re doing their ‘banking’ with us.” Thus, Post argued that credit unions should be able to communicate with members in their members’ own language.
“In the end,” he explains, “we preserved our right to describe our services as banking. But we don’t portray ourselves as a bank in any way. We use the verb, not the noun.”