Financial Center Manager Terry Page (right) trained Jayson Lowry to succeed him as manager at a UFCU interactive financial center. Lowry had been a personal financial representative at the branch.
1. 2014-2015 Environmental Scan resources: cuna.org/strategicplanning
2. 2014-2015 Staff Salary Report: cuna.org/compensation
3. Credit Union Front Line newsletter: cuna.org/frontline
CUNA Operations, Sales & Service Council:
Diebold, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider:
“Service on steroids” is how Terry Page, financial center manager for University Federal Credit Union (UFCU), Austin, Texas, describes the culture he’s helping to instill in the $1.8 billion asset credit union’s branch network.UFCU’s approach is twofold: Change the design of its branches and, if necessary, train or hire managers with the skills to run them successfully.
Personal financial representatives (PFR) at five UFCU interactive financial centers (IFC) greet members and guide them through basic transactions at Diebold Opteva 720 lobby kiosks.
For more complex discussions, PFRs walk members to desks that feature a “high top” for quick service requests and a “collaborative” workstation.
Consumer behavior drives these changes, in part. Financial futurist and author Brett King calls consumer behavior the “killer app—literally. It will kill your business every time unless you move with it.”
Members want to manage their finances anywhere, anytime, via any device—and do so through online and mobile banking. Competition to provide this convenience comes from everywhere: other local financial institutions; cloud-based services; retailers such as Walmart, Pay Pal, and other digital payments providers; and insurance companies.
But to credit union leaders like Page, that only spells opportunity. Taking King’s advice, credit unions are transforming their physical operations and their branch cultures to serve members’ changing needs.
“Our goals are to provide exemplary member service, expand our business, and remove the barriers in traditional branches,” Page says. To make these efforts successful, “We look for people with no fear and who love being with members, are adaptable, and have energy and passion.”
Diverse skills needed
In the past, managers could be successful if they were friendly and organized, ordered enough cash, and performed the necessary transactions, observes Jenny Hoyle, chief operating officer at $92 million asset Isabella Community Credit Union in Mount Pleasant, Mich.
Today’s emphasis on instilling and inspiring a full-service sales culture, combined with streamlined staffing, requires that branch managers possess a broader skill set, credit union executives say.
These skills include the ability to:
• Develop business by attracting and retaining members;
• Assist with marketing strategies and tactics;
• Make loans and manage lending;
• Coach and mentor the sales force, not just focus on transactions;
• Detect fraud and ensure physical security;
• Resolve surface-level information technology issues; and
• Serve as ambassadors to the community by joining local organizations’ boards of directors and participating in local events.
With its complex responsibilities, the branch manager position can be high stress.
“The manager has to keep things moving and take control. That hasn’t changed,” says Shane London, president/CEO of $431 million asset Deseret First Federal Credit Union, Salt Lake City. “They’re involved in ownership of the branch, and in a micro sense, they’re members’ eyes and ears. I look at managers as staff resources and policy implementers. They’re the ones who will make branches successful.”
To run a successful brick-and-mortar operation in the digital age, branch managers’ mindset certainly has to shift . This requires consistent mentoring and coaching from the credit union’s leadership.
For Hoyle, that means:
• Meeting regularly with branch managers;
• Reading and discussing books together to improve member engagement and team effectiveness;
• Using vendors with specific expertise;
• Relying on CUNA and state leagues for educational opportunities; and
• Offering extensive one-on-one mentoring customized to branch culture.
“Managers need initiative to bring all areas together, continue the credit union’s growth, deepen relationships with members, and find new ones,” she says.
London’s leadership team worked to obtain branch managers’ buy-in to their new model. “It’s a massive shift in focus,” he says. “But we’re extremely pleased. The majority are excited about the concept.”
• Included managers in the process as early as possible;
• Listened to managers’ concerns;
• Educated them about the model;
• Helped them see that responsibility for their branches’ success rests largely on their shoulders;
• Granted managers greater control of marketing resources so they can adapt to their branches’ nuances;
• Implemented policy changes to maintain sound safety and risk management;
• Engaged a broader range of employees in productdesign research , with managers spearheading initial stages;
• Worked at branches periodically to interact with managers and members; and
• Implemented detailed manager evaluations to ensure alignment with credit union objectives.
“It’s exciting to see how proactive they are in coming up with ideas,” London says. “They’re like mini-CEOs of their branches.”
NEXT: Recruiting and hiring