Chad Trench joined the board of Affinity Plus Credit Union 2020, after serving three years as a volunteer of the credit union’s Supervisory Committee. He is currently a director of operations at Special Olympics Minnesota.
In this interview he shares his credit union’s strategic objectives and describes how it changed its fee structure to help low- to moderate-income members who were struggling financially.
A: I am fortunate to work for Special Olympics. It has helped shape my understanding of the importance of giving back to the community. Another parallel is the importance of supporting everyone in the community.
Through Affinity Plus, we have financial products and services with purpose, seeking to build up members and communities through education, access, and empowerment.
A: Regarding the member, it’s increasing new and existing engagement and product utilization. Leveraging data to understand their needs and create actionable insights and advice.
Financially, it’s seeking strong revenue growth and diversification, align and evolve tools and practices for optimizing expense, risk, and fraud mitigation.
For our employees, the focus is attracting, investing in, and retaining qualified, diverse, and engaged employees.
And organizationally, our focus is maintaining soundness; advancing our tech, facilities, and operations infrastructure; and elevating cyber security and enhance awareness educational opportunities for members and staff.
A: Risk management, cyber security, continuing to be leaders in financial services landscape and emerging technologies. Affinity Plus has a great team that continues to educate, create, and find partners, which allow more opportunities for employees and members.
A: Members are at the forefront of all discussions and decisions.
In 2020, at a time of economic uncertainty, Affinity Plus temporarily changed its fee structure to help protect members, especially those struggling financially, and put more money back into their pockets.
Affinity Plus recognized the need to change its fees to help those who could benefit the most from the support. Non-sufficient fund fees (NSFs) cost Americans billions each year and disproportionately impact people from underprivileged communities and Generation Z, who are just getting started financially.
Learning from what we did in 2020, we permanently transformed our fee structure in the summer of 2022 to tackle this issue. Through this change, we became the state’s first credit union to eliminate outdated NSFs and dramatically reform charges for courtesy payment services.
This change saved members nearly $5 million in its first six months—with low-moderate income individuals benefitting the most.
Affinity Plus works collaboratively to help members experiencing financial hardship. As a not-for-profit credit union, the change in fees is another way we put our members first.
A: We are lucky to have had quality board leadership for some time. Part of the culture at Affinity Plus of welcoming all translates well to the board. We are intentional regarding discussion and having the opportunity and expectation for all to be heard. The board packets are intentional regarding challenging us with questions stimulating discussion.
A: Ask questions and speak up!
I was on the Supervisory Committee before being elected to the board. This gave me a feel for the culture and allowed me to really learn the auditing process, which helped my skillset for being on the board. That being said, my first meeting was in March 2020.
I came on at a time when things were changing rapidly due to the pandemic. Our board and senior leadership were so engaged with each other. We were not just meeting to get updates. It was to discuss, decide and support each other.