When big banks bought out community-based competitors in Selma, Ala., then removed control of lending decisions and increased fees, word-of-mouth fueled a parade of prospective members to Riverdale Credit Union.
“We benefited in this market because we give personal service daily,” CEO Linda Walker says.
Since 2009, membership has increased 63% to 9,597, assets jumped 56% to $65 million, and loans accelerated 53% to $43 million.
“We have had the discussion many times that one would think we would reach our growth peak, but month after month the numbers continue to increase,” Walker says. “We have a great name and reputation out on the street.”
Although Selma is not a large city—population 20,756—and hasn’t experienced a great deal of industrial growth, Riverdale has found its niche since obtaining a community charter several years ago.
The credit union never advertisers for new members. But it sponsors a variety of events in the city and school system, such as:
• A community shred day for disposal of old documents;
• “Silent Snacks” for children who otherwise might not have food for the weekend; and
• Annually awarding 25 scholarships of $500 each to deserving young members as they move from high school to college.
Riverdale’s financial literacy efforts have helped members break free of the cycle of payday loans, which are readily available at many stores in Selma.
“There is a new adventure here every day. I have enjoyed almost all of them and I love my job,” says Walker, a 31-year employee at Riverdale.
“I have tried to instill in my employees that having a servant’s heart is a good thing, and that serving our membership in a professional, efficient, and friendly manner is the continued reason for our success. After all, ‘People Helping People’ is the philosophy we were built on.”