Board Chairman's Economic Lessons Give Boost to Idaho State University FCU, CU Movement
POCATELLO, Idaho -- How often are you able to find joy in both your professional career and your volunteer efforts?
For Idaho State University Department of Economics Professor Dr. Robert Tokle, the perfect foil to his career has turned out to be his role as a board member of Idaho State University Federal Credit Union and he owes it all to his wife.
"It was my wife who gave me the idea to get involved because at the time she was teaching part-time and was pregnant with our first child so didn't have the time to do it herself," said Tokle. "It turns out the teaching, my research and service to the credit union have been a natural fit and I've become a kind of expert on credit unions." In 1997 Tokle was elected ISUFCU chairman and has served as a member of the asset/liability management committee. Since Tokle's joining the board in 1992, the credit union has grown from about $15 million in assets to $76 million in assets, while its capital ratio has improved from 6% to 10%. He was an early and strong advocate of ISUFCU partnering with Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services to help people with lower incomes make home improvements and/or buy homes and a big supporter of risk-based lending.
"Since I first heard Bob Hoel's presentation on risk-based lending it just made sense to me and I became an early advocate of implementing it at ISUFCU," said Tokle. "We were one of the first credit unions in Idaho to introduce it in 1994, which allowed us to make loans to members with a lower credit score at a slightly higher rate to compensate for the costs of these higher risk loans."
As just one of many examples over the years of how well his research and board service mesh, one of Tokle's case studies resulted in a refinement of the credit union's risk-based lending program.
"While most credit unions with risk-based lending just set different rates for different risk categories we were able to adjust these rates so that they reflect the actual higher costs to our credit union in collection costs and charge-offs from these higher risk groups," said Tokle.
As of last year the credit union had some 704 loans outstanding, valued at $5.9 million to high-risk borrowers. ISUFCU also implemented an alternative program to payday lending in 2006.
"As an economist and in teaching money and banking in some ways I enjoy the ALCO committee more because it is more hands on--we have been able to make a difference in rates and change direction a little," said Tokle. "But I enjoy the board too. It is nice being involved in a cooperative and being a part of a changing movement that is charged with helping people make a difference in their lives."
Among his many accomplishments, in addition to serving his local credit union, Tokle is active in statewide and regional credit union affairs and he was named Credit Union Volunteer of the Year by the Idaho Credit Union League in 2001, and Director of the Year by CU Conferences in 2004. He has served on league task forces, the Idaho Council on Economic Education and Idaho State University's Center for Economic Education.
On a national scale, Tokle's research into the effect of credit unions on financial services has helped show statistically the benefit of credit union competition on financial institution rate structures in communities where credit unions are present. In 2005, the House Ways and Means Committee sought out Tokle's expertise in conjunction with a hearing on the rationale for the credit union tax-exemption. Recognizing his study that reported credit unions' influence on interest rates net bank CD and money market deposit holders $2 to $2.5 billion a year in interest earned, the committee discussed with Tokle his views on the influence of credit union competition.
"Bob's dedication, achievements and knowledgeable leadership have not only played a huge role in our success," said ISUFCU President Lonnie F. Nelson, "but his wide ranging volunteer efforts have had a positive impact on the entire movement." --email@example.com