|L-R: Hank Barrett, CEO of Valley First CU; Robin Lentz, CEO of Cabrillo CU; and Jeff Napper, CEO of LBS Financial CU|
'REACH': THREE CA CEOs SPEAK OUT
updated 10/03/13 09:07 AM
Rekindled Optimism Shines Forward
With the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues' 2013 Annual Meeting and Convention right around the corner, three CEOs have stepped up to share how their credit unions are modeling the concept of “reach up, reach out, reach deep” to create meaningful and lasting relationships with members.
Their individual stories uncover an age-old principle within the credit union movement—when you put members first, everyone succeeds.
Valley First CU
CEO: Hank Barrett
Assets: $500 million
Headquarters: Modesto, CA
In His Own Words...
We’re reaching out by looking at our relationship with members and whether we’re both benefiting from that relationship. We’re examining how our ties with them can be more beneficial without being a financial burden on us.
We’re also trying to educate them about the self-sufficiency of using internet and mobile banking. We want to move them to a place that’s more advantageous for both of us since we’ll be establishing more electronic delivery points in the future.
Overall, we want to do what’s fair. We attempt to educate them so they won’t get hammered with big fees. We want to work with them. If we see that they’re having a tough time, we assist in getting them to a better place.
We reach deep by being very intertwined in our communities. We’re active in fundraisers, nonprofit organizations, and some major groups on a regular basis. We’re part of the community, so we give back to the community.
We’re reaching up by watching what other credit unions are doing and talking to them. We don’t think we know everything. We are not reinventing the wheel, but instead we’re learning from where others have gone before us.
Our credit union also reaches up by being engaged in the political arena. We can’t just talk to credit union-friendly candidates only during the campaign season—we have to be there the entire way and build relationships. We must represent our members’ interests by standing together politically.
CEO: Robin Lentz
Assets: $195 million
Headquarters: San Diego, CA
In Her Own Words...
Our credit union is trying to reach up, out, and deep through the decisions we make every day at work. Although our field of membership has expanded over the years, we have never forgotten our roots. We’ve had a strong relationship with the U.S. Border Patrol since we were chartered in 1955 to serve them.
As a result of this, their employees call on us when they need a variety of services, including Fallen Agent Memorial Accounts—an account set up for donations to help those affected when a border patrol agent is killed in the line of duty. We are also involved in the patrol’s “musters” and other events, and are at their disposal for any special needs they may have.
Understanding our members’ specific needs has helped us develop products and programs. More recently, we introduced the Sequestration Advance Loan in response to the impact from the federal government’s budget sequestration. This loan is interest-free for 60 days, advances up to $2,500, and can be repaid over 24 months. More than 800 members took advantage of it within the first two weeks.
We also offer “early Friday paydays,” payroll advance loans, advances for DMV fees, and a program on auto loans where we pay members $50 if we can’t meet or beat an interest rate offered by a competitor.
One time a border patrol agent was wrongly accused of beating up an illegal immigrant. He was fired and faced criminal charges. He came to us for help with his loans, and we were able to work with him while he was on trial.
In the end, he was exonerated and reinstated with the Border Patrol. He was so grateful we worked with him during that terrible time that he brought his entire family in to personally thank our collection employees. We were the only creditor that helped him.
LBS Financial CU
CEO: Jeff Napper
Assets: $1 billion
Headquarters: Long Beach, CA
In His Own Words...
We’re focusing on making a difference in the lives of our members by building trust and showing compassion for their individual financial situations. We believe that trust, compassion, and our employees are the key ingredients to building lasting and unique relationships.
Handling money requires us to build confidence with our members. If change occurs frequently at the employee level, members develop a sense of distrust.
Fortunately, our employee turnover rate remains very low. We want to offer a unique “stick and stay” workplace culture for employees so that they can develop a long-lasting bond with members. If there’s frequent employee turnover, it becomes impossible for these relationships to form. We put a lot of attention toward caring for employees so they will exhibit that same compassion to our members.
We track our success by reaching out to members randomly each week to find out how they feel about their credit union, and we review reasons for account closures. We also recently implemented a member feedback tool that disseminates information from our call center and branches immediately to key staff for follow-up purposes.
We’re reaching up by looking at the bigger picture and deepening relationships, reaching out by listening to our members’ opinions, and reaching deep through compassion.