In early 2014, The Partnership Federal Credit Union in Arlington, Va., launched a “lending revolution” to redeploy staff and enhance technology to boost loan acquisition, retention, and yield in the wake of the Great Recession.
As a result, the $145 million asset credit union saw 6.24% loan growth in 2014, the highest performance since the economic downturn, and annualized loan growth for 2015 topping 12%.
David Martinez, The Partnership Federal’s director of lending strategies and business technology, details the credit union’s award-winning lending efforts and shares some thoughts on leadership.
CU Mag: What did your ‘lending revolution’ entail?
Martinez: Our credit union had struggled with meeting target loan growth goals since the downturn of the economy in 2008. We seized an opportunity to make a significant shift in strategy in early 2014.
Though we tried several initiatives to spur loan growth, we never really hit the mark. We saw that a new approach was necessary and we put together a proposal to re-energize the lending program.
This plan, which is now formally known as “Lending Evolution,” took a holistic approach to reviewing the people, processes, and tools associated with lending to identify and remove barriers while uncovering and capitalizing on latent opportunities.
We launched the data-gathering phase to gain insights into our lending challenges in March 2014. During this stage, we conducted staff shadowing and interviews, used our data warehouse to complete deep analytics, and sought industry best practices [through our participation with the] CUNA Lending Council and [reading] trade and vendor publications.
Born from these efforts was a long list of enhancement opportunities, including new automation, process and procedure enhancements, staff role modifications, product changes, policy changes, new ongoing reporting and analytics initiatives, vendor review and consolidation, development of new staff resources, expansion of marketing, and a general migration to electronic processes and mediums.
CU Mag: What was your role in this effort?
Martinez: I was responsible for developing the Lending Evolution plan. Following the plan’s approval I was granted authority for managing and leading the lending staff while implementing this plan.
CU Mag: What role did data analytics play?
Martinez: Data analytics was at the core of the Lending Evolution project. We conducted an extensive efficiency study that examined the lending team and all processes associated with loan origination from start to finish.
Additionally, we examined administrative lending tasks, including those that extended to other business units, to get a complete picture of the lending environment. This efficiency study, paired with a variety of internal reports, external benchmarking metrics, and best practice solutions, formed the foundation of our Lending Evolution plan.
CU Mag: How has the ‘Lending Evolution’ helped members and the CU?
Martinez: It enabled us to create a more streamlined lending program, offer more tailored and innovative products and services, and extend better pricing to our members.
By involving employees in this project, our front-line staff became more engaged and better champions of our products and services. The net result has been aggressive loan growth, enhanced profitability, and more satisfied and engaged employees and members.
CU Mag: What has winning this award meant to your CU?
Martinez: Receiving the Consumer Lending Award is a tremendous honor. Receiving this recognition from such a distinguished group of our peers further validates the value of the program we’ve put together.
The exposure we’re receiving, thanks to this award, has also created many new opportunities for us to connect with our peers for additional best practice conversations.
CU Mag: What one trait has proven most valuable to you as a leader, particularly with this program?
Martinez: Vision. It was the vision of how we could modify our program that led to the formation of the Lending Evolution plan.
This same vision also provided us the focus to continue driving toward our goals in spite of any challenges we encountered along the way.
CU Mag: What’s one of the top qualities a successful manager must possess?
Martinez: Empowerment: the ability to identify and capitalize on the strength in others.
CU Mag: What’s one thing your CU does that demonstrates the CU difference?
Martinez: Collaborate with peers. Our industry is unique in its willingness to partner and share ideas.
This is one of the greatest strengths of credit unions and one which The Partnership Federal believes and participates in.
CU Mag: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Martinez: “Trust your intuition.”
We all have an innate sense of what is right. I believe one’s mind is more easily led off course than one’s gut. I’ve never gone astray when I’ve acted on my intuition.
CU Mag: You can have dinner with one person from history. Who do you choose and why?
Martinez: Elon Musk. I admire his unrelenting desire to actualize his dreams.
I also believe he is incredibly intelligent and I’d love to hear his vision for the evolution of technology over the next 10 to 20 years.