Plan for lots of new faces during the next two decades. Approximately 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 every day for the next 18 years, reports the Pew Research Center.
While decimated retirement funds and economic uncertainty are keeping many boomers in the workforce longer, eventually they’ll retire. And this will affect all levels of the credit union, not just the CEO.
Plan for emergencies
One example is Vikki Kaiser, president/CEO of $550 million asset Great Lakes Credit Union, North Chicago, Ill., who’s within five years of retirement. “There are a number of employees in the same age group,” she says. “Some will work beyond age 65, but in the next five years I think we’ll have double the number of retirements we normally do.”
She’s not worried, though. “We’ll follow our succession plan and it will play out normally. We know who’s interested in promoting up and waiting for people to retire.”
Staff will continue to train and prepare to replace retirees, she says. “We prefer to promote from within, but it’s not always possible.
“We periodically ask staff if they’re interested in promoting up, and we work with those individuals,” says Kaiser. “It’s possible for tellers and financial services representatives to rise through the ranks to become managers, and we expect managers to work with staff to do that.”
To help educate employees, the credit union closes early on Wednesdays for all-staff training sessions. And supervisors mentor employees on an ongoing basis, including time spent in different departments.
“We think it’s really important for lenders to understand what collections staff do, and why it’s important to get comprehensive information from applicants in case a loan goes into collections,” Kaiser explains. “We also like to send people to our call center to answer phones.”
Senior leaders mentor managers who want to be executives. And at the top level, two executives are interested in succeeding Kaiser. “After they told me they were interested, I looked at their skills and experience to determine what we needed to do to ensure it’s a possibility,” she says.
“I had one of them take over operations for a time to learn those areas, and then lending and other departments,” she continues. “We meet regularly one on one, and I help them get well-rounded industry knowledge. I assign various projects they can learn from, and I sent one to executive management training.”
Part of the credit union’s written succession plan allows its board to also look outside for candidates. “It includes the qualifications—education, knowledge, experience—for a CEO, and identifies recruiting firms the board can use,” says Kaiser.
The written plan is critical, she stresses—including how to deal with emergencies such as a CEO death or termination. “The board needs to know what you’re looking for, who would step in as interim CEO, who is potentially qualified, and what recruiting firms to use.”
NEXT: Groom for succession