CU Mag: How have your members and communities been affected by the economic downturn?
Bell: As with many of us during this time, some of our members have been negatively affected. Fortunately, since the credit union always provided responsible loan products along with thorough counseling around affordability during the loan application process, our members continue to pay back their loans. Our delinquency rate, including our mortgage loan portfolio, is much lower than the national average. We focus on creating strong relationships with members to understand their changing needs. And we emphasize financial education to mitigate the effects of the economic downturn on them.
MacNeil: Brockton has one of the highest foreclosure rates in Massachusetts and its unemployment rate is over 10%. In 2005, 2006, and 2007, subprime lenders actively preyed on low- and moderate-income residents, minorities, and immigrants.
We’ve responded by working with members facing economic challenges and reaching out to the entire community by providing resources such as the MultiCultural Banking Center and HarborOne U. Our employee volunteers, the Caring Crew, also provide help for community organizations and their clients.
CU Mag: What's your advice for newly chartered community credit unions?
MacNeil: Get to know your community values quickly. Motivate your officers and employees to volunteer on behalf of the credit union. Strive to get the active business leaders in the community aware of your services and appeal for their support.
Bell: Involve your community from the outset. Staff, management, and the board of directors should reflect the community you’re serving so that you understand the needs of your community, and earn members’ trust.