Bill Vogeney

Lessons in life and leadership

Sage advice from award-winning lender Bill Vogeney.

December 4, 2019

When Bill Vogeney learned he’d won the CUNA Lending Council’s 2019 Phil Greer Lifetime Achievement Award, a colleague told him it was the first time he’d seen Vogeney speechless.

Vogeney, chief revenue officer for $6 billion asset Ent Credit Union in Colorado Springs, Colo., began his career with a national consumer finance company before becoming vice president of lending at the former Navy Orlando Credit Union (now Fairwinds Credit Union) at age 27.

“I’d just been turned down for a job for which I was overqualified and decided to apply for a job for which I was underqualified to get some interviewing experience,” he says. “I was at the right place at the right time, and I got the job.”

What he thought would be a four- to five-year endeavor has become a 31-year credit union career.

Vogeney, who has worked at Ent for 18 years, shares how the lending landscape has changed over the years, how it will evolve in the future, and advice for the next generation of lenders.

How have you seen lending change over the years?

Bill Vogeney: Lending was simpler and slower 31 years ago. There was no indirect lending and no FICO scores. We had a custom scorecard we paid a company to develop.

If we closed a consumer loan in a couple of days, that was pretty good. Now, we fund loans within one to three hours. We can close loans faster than what members need.

But members’ expectations will continue to change and evolve. The pace we’re required to move to keep members happy is amazing.

What changes are on the horizon?

Vogeney: One big aspect of my job is to imagine what the next generation of lending will look like. One change is that relying solely on a FICO score to make credit decisions won’t be enough.

We’re relying more heavily on transactional data, such as checking account information. Earlier this year, we sent a preapproved loan offer to 12,000 members based solely on our internal data regarding members’ use of direct deposit and how they handle their checking accounts.

The response rate was unbelievable—nearly 10%—and we used no direct mail. Everything was electronic, supported by email, e-statements, and banner ads when members logged into home banking and mobile banking.

We had a tremendous response rate from B and C credit borrowers who may not qualify for a prequalified loan through a credit bureau prescreen. The fact that we gave them a preapproved loan with no conditions only cements their loyalty.

Ultimately, credit score can accurately predict about 55% of loan performance. We need other information to tighten that up. Hopefully that means we can approve more loans faster.

What are some favorite memories from your career?

Vogeney: I don’t feel like I'm old enough to receive a lifetime achievement award, but my hip, back, and knee might argue otherwise.

I take pride not in what I've accomplished or what the credit union has accomplished but in the people I've been able to influence. Our credit union is lucky to have seven people who could be superstar chief lending officers at large credit unions.

When you've got a team like that, it's easy to come to work every day and enjoy what you do.

What advice would you offer young lenders?

Vogeney: As a young manager, I took on too much myself and didn’t spend enough time to identify where there was talent and who I could rely on.

I eventually did that, but my life would have been easier and our results would have been better had I come to that realization earlier. It's all about your people. If you can't get it done through your people, you’re just an ineffective manager.

Be flexible, and learn as much as you can. Try to leverage your position as a millennial to help us.

People who have been in the industry a long time may be slower to see changes in the world around us and how that’s influencing consumer behavior and demands.

Also, be available and willing to try new things. Thirty-one years ago, I applied for a vice president of lending position and I didn’t think I had a ghost of a chance. But I got it.

Like hockey great Wayne Gretzky said, “You never make a shot you don’t take.” So take a shot or two.

► Check out our coverage from the 2019 CUNA Lending Council Conference