Collaboration is essential for small CUs
‘We work with our members personally.’
Collaboration isn’t just a good idea for small credit unions, it’s essential for their survival.
It’s no surprise then that the Small Credit Union Roundtable at the America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC) Sunday was filled with staff and board members ready to trade ideas and share successes on how to grow and thrive.
To kick off the session, attendees shared what works for their credit unions, including:
• Community charters. Michele Lehmann, president/CEO of St. Mary’s & Affiliates Credit Union in Madison, Wis., discussed her credit union’s transition to a community charter.
“We went from serving a single SEG to opening up to six counties in the surrounding area,” she says. This shift has spurred an influx in loan activity, including a boost in indirect auto lending.
• Personalized service. “We work with our members personally,” says Larry Gerads, board member at Pacific Northwest Ironworkers Federal Credit Union in Portland, Ore. “Because our members are all iron workers, we’re only taking iron worker money and we’re only lending out iron worker money and our members are very faithful.”
• Strategic planning. “We put a lot of effort into our five-year plan,” says Terry Settle, president/CEO at Old Ocean (Texas) FCU. “We got ourselves where we wanted to be more quickly than we thought we would. We’re excited about what we’re building for the next several years.”
One credit union CEO shared her credit union’s efforts to create a strong workplace culture. The credit union had been in the middle of a capital restoration period during which it didn’t hire new staff. The CEO said that by establishing core values, staffers could take on extra work.
Another CEO discussed his credit union’s partnership with smaller counterparts in his area to support their loan offerings. His credit union performs loan processing for other credit unions in exchange for fee income.
As a result, these credit unions can provide more loan options for their members.