He happened into the credit union world somewhat by chance, but Bob Falk’s path to success has been forged through carefully calculated decisions.
Falk, CEO of Purdue Federal Credit Union (PFCU), is lauded by his peers as an innovative, caring, and open-minded leader. His accomplishments at the helm include growing the credit union from $500 million to $1.1 billion in assets, launching a member perks program, and overhauling the lending process.
When he arrived at PFCU in 2002, Falk combed through the various lending processes to make sure they were fully optimized.
“Credit unions need to lend to survive so I tried to build a solid lending platform for our future success,” says Falk. He succeeded—especially with commercial lending, which has grown into a large, profitable portfolio.
“I am a very calculated risk taker,” Falk says. “I need to know as much as possible before taking a risk but ultimately, in our business, if we don’t take any risks we won’t be in business very long.”
The member rewards program is another example of Falk’s willingness to take risks to stay innovative. It rewards members based on level of engagement—including length of membership, deposit and loan balances, transactions, and service usage. Members who engage more receive above-market benefits in rates and cash rewards. In total, the perks program gave back about $6.7 million to members last year.
Falk also is known as an excellent team builder, yet he is quick to credit his team for its role in PFCU’s success.
“His management team is one of the most cohesive and knowledgeable groups I have ever met,” says Sundeep Rao, director of information technology relationship management at Purdue University. “The care with which he mentors them is a marvel to watch.”
At the end of the day, Falk unwinds by restoring vintage cars and cycling, swimming, golfing, and playing tennis.
“I am probably a little too competitive in sports still but it helps keep me in shape,” he says. “Getting into a competitive sport drives you to be better and that isn’t much different from how we should all approach our career—driven to be better.”