Succession Planning: Have a Strong Bench

The time to develop a plan is before you need it.

September 29, 2010

Many credit union CEOs have delayed retirement to steer their credit unions through tough economic times—and to nurse their recession-depleted retirement funds back to health.

Only 6.3% of credit union CEOs plan to retire in the next two years, according to the Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) 2010-2011 Complete Credit Union Staff Salary Survey Report.

After that, however, retirement rates probably will accelerate.

The average age of a credit union CEO is 53, CUNA’s survey reports, and about half are older than age 55. Nearly 65% of CEOs in credit unions with more than $500 million in assets fall into that category.

“There will be a pent-up demand for retirement at the CEO level when the economy turns around,” predicts Gene Mandarino, organizational development manager at HRN Management Group, Salt Lake City.

CUNA’s research finds that 20% of CEOs at credit unions with more than $100 million in assets plan to retire within the next five years.

The need for succession planning is clear, especially when you factor in unexpected CEO departures as a renewed job market beckons, or through illness or death.

Many credit unions are ready: 58% overall have a formal plan in place and 16% will by year’s end, CUNA reports.

But others clearly have work to do: 25% of credit unions say they don’t expect to have a plan in place this year.

Replacing a CEO can be a lengthy process, indicates Robert Reh, chief information officer at $340 million asset Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union, Westbury, N.Y., and vice chair of the CUNA Technology Council.

“When you lose a CEO, the credit union can lose direction,” he says. “A succession plan helps ensure business continuity, and the time to develop a plan is before you need it.”

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