Growing up, Brian Bone never knew why his father drove past bank branches in their neighborhood to conduct business with his credit union over an hour away.
After 25 years in finance, including stints in one of the nation’s largest banks, the High Desert Community Credit Union CEO says the reason has become clear now.
“The credit union meant a lot to him because it actually helped him,” Bone says. “When he joined the Air Force, he applied for a $500 loan to buy a truck and was turned down by the local bank in the town he and his family had lived in for generations.
“Since joining the [credit union] movement,” Bone continues, “I have never looked back, and absolutely love having real impact every day with our members.”
In a state known for its underpopulated deserts, Aztec, N.M., has been called one of the most remote parts of the state. Two major banks have closed branches in town, and High Desert Community is the only credit union. In his two years at the $12 million asset credit union, Bone has overseen some big changes.
“When I came to the credit union, I presented a vision of growth, change, and relevance,” Bone says. “I am blessed with a wonderful board that bravely embraced such a bold plan. We began with a brand change, expansion of the field of membership, and enhancement of products and services.”
Part of the enhancement included changes to meet members’ real estate loan needs. Bone notes he is especially proud of High Desert Community’s efforts to serve members with real estate loans of less than $50,000. He also teamed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a successful small-business lending program.
A dedicated Boy Scout leader, Bone also aids the next generation by teaching financial literacy at a local community college for the past eight years. He believes such instruction is critically important for the future because most students in the classes are high school juniors and seniors.
“Many remark that the content is meaningful for their lives today and for their futures,” Bone says. “This kind of work is important for countless reasons. When young people hear and understand the concept of owner/member that their credit union offers, they tend to gravitate to exploring the benefits of membership.”