With more than six years of experience on UNCLE Credit Union’s board of directors, Lee Neely is no stranger to credit union operations. But when UNCLE started planning for long-term growth, Neely found perspective and guidance through his community of fellow Certified Credit Union Board Members (CCUBs).
As treasurer on the Livermore, Calif.-based UNCLE’s board, Neely works closely with other financial leaders on the credit union’s staff. He attributes his understanding of credit union financials in part to his ongoing CCUB training, as well as his Certified Credit Union Supervisory Committee Member (CCUSC) designation, which he earned shortly before being invited onto UNCLE’s board.
“When it came to the in-person training, it jumped off the page,” recalls Neely, who is committed to keeping both of his designations up-to-date. “You get a chance to interact with industry experts and ask the questions that are important to you. And you actually get those questions answered.”
The struggle for strategic growth
Based in Livermore, CA, UNCLE serves a diverse range of members. With one portion of UNCLE’s membership residing in the densely populated, high-tech city and the other living in rural areas nearby, connecting with both communities can sometimes be a struggle. As Neely puts it, “What we’re trying to do is find the right selection of valuable products that are of acceptable risk.”
One product that UNCLE decided it was committed to offering was mortgages, which the credit union has recently taken on insourcing. Neely’s experience as a CCUB played an important role in helping him assess the risk of such a large-scale project.
Engaged, involved and informed
With help from his CCUB training, Neely brought his financial management acumen to the table to assist his credit union in this large-scale project. From balance sheets to risk management, Neely’s understanding helped him work with staff to make UNCLE’s goal a reality.
“It was nice to see the staff understood the importance of having the training to do the new processes as opposed to ready, fire, aim,” recalls Neely. “It sounded like it was pretty straightforward. And then I found out that no, there’s actually a whole bunch of groundwork that has to be laid. Having that background to really understand that we’re following due diligence was important.”
UNCLE is growing fast, and Neely also accredits his CCUB training with guiding him in not one, but two recent mergers.
“With the exposure to the value of merging and how it would help my credit union grow—I was able to take that information back to the process,” he says. “And doing two back to back, the staff had to work so hard and I would’ve had no clue about what they were doing and how it was important.”
Achieving board excellence
“One thing that stands out to me about CCUB & CCUSC participants I’ve met is they’re very engaged and committed to their credit union. These are not keeping a seat warm people. They all have a very good relationship with the staff because they’re tuned in. They’re communicating and they’re listening to understand. They’re not just sitting there voting yea or nay. They’re actively engaged.”
Neely is part of a community of more than 300 board and supervisory committee members who have gained skills and recognition through the Certified Credit Union Board Member (CCUB) and Certified Credit Union Supervisory Committee Member (CCUSC) designations.
To learn more, visit cuna.org/designations.