Scaling new lending heights

CityMark Federal Credit Union attributes lending success to team effort.

September 25, 2020

“They are the most empathetic and friendly people I have ever had the privilege to work with,” says CityMark Federal Credit Union CEO Joe Gimble. “Each of my employees is universal. They can do anything for anyone and they do so diligently.”

In 2014, CityMark’s financial scoreboard displayed an anemic loan-to-share ratio of 20% while delinquencies reached 22%. Today, its loan-to-share is routinely over 90% and delinquencies have plummeted to 1%.

The $71 million asset credit union in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., has booked $75 million in loans in the past five years. CityMark accomplished this without the words “lending,” “loan officer,” or “collections” appearing on any name plates.

Gimble nominated his entire team as Credit Union Rock Stars because he couldn’t single out one employee. That acclaim joins honors from the CUNA Councils for excellence in operations and lending, as well as Pennsylvania Credit Union Association awards for its website and corporate identity program.

Gimble credits a true team spirit for these achievements.

“Every employee will easily step in when needed. They take on new tasks and changes in stride,” he says. “They embody the credit union spirit, helping our members reach their goals, save money, and make their financial lives better.”

He compares this teamwork to when a cheerleading squad builds a human pyramid: “You encourage each other and work together so you don’t let it fall apart.”

That stamina and cooperation was put to the test in April—in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19)  pandemic—when strong winds tore off the roof of the Wilkes-Barre City Hall, which houses one of CityMark’s branches. Members needed to be directed to digital offerings and two other branches.

Gimble assembled the team by hiring staff for their people skills, noting you can teach someone how to  grant a loan.

“You can’t teach someone how to take care of people, how to be personable, or how to make members comfortable,” he says.

CityMark implemented risk-based lending, introduced an incentive program, and cross-trained employees to become more than order-takers who wait on members.

Employees developed their skills to become savvy member advisers and consultants, willing to help anyone with anything they need, says Gimble, who credits CityMark’s ongoing success to the outstanding efforts of his team.

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