TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Guy Hood's 15-year-old granddaughter can't imagine needing to visit a bricks-and-mortar location to care of a banking transaction.
After all, you can do all of that online or at an ATM, or maybe on your PDA, she figures.
Hood pointed out the attitude of a new generation as an example of how much credit unions have changed during his 39 years in the movement, including 20 years as president of the Florida Credit Union League.
Hood will retire in January, and as he looked back on his career, he declared he considers himself lucky.
"I really, really think I've been fortunate to have an excellent management and employee team," he stated. "They're very professional and work very hard on behalf of credit unions."
He recalled the advances from the introduction of share drafts and direct deposit to debit cards, shared branching, ATM networks and more. He also witnessed the ability of credit unions to serve more people thanks to less restrictive fields of membership.
Looking ahead, "We need to be very proactive in eliminating barriers to membership in Florida. We have a very open opportunity for Florida consumers to join a credit union. Our challenge is lack of robust membership growth," he said.
"Florida has led the Southeast generally in terms of credit union growth, both in membership and assets. But even in Florida, for the past several years our membership growth has been very flat. We're 6% to 8% of financial assets. I think that challenge in a wonderful opportunity."
So what has caused this flat growth? Hood agreed part of the answer may be the fact that with today's technology, when a member of a credit union in another state moves to Florida, it's easy for them to simply continue using the same credit union. He also pointed out many people accustomed to a credit union with a traditional employer-based field of membership may not realize they are eligible to join a Florida credit union.
"Another factor is the banks in Florida do a wonderful job of mining and prospecting the data," Hood continued. "So many folks are literally met at the border with packages of banking services from banks in Florida. It makes it easy for people to establish a new financial relationship."
Hood launched his credit union career in 1970--April Fools' Day, he quipped--at the Alabama Credit Union League as a field representative, following about 10 years in banking.
"I was at the Alabama league 18 years and rose through the ranks to senior vice president of technical and financial management services," Hood said. "Then in June 1988 I became the CEO of the Florida Credit Union League."
"Florida was a state with a strong credit union presence. There were good opportunities for continued growth and development of the league. I honestly felt the Alabama league was, pound for pound, one of the best leagues in the country. I believed from what I'd learned in Alabama we could move Florida credit unions forward."
On a very positive note, Hood applauded the way Florida credit unions have responded to calls for political action and involvement, both in Washington and Tallahassee, as well as fundraising.
"Florida credit unions are devoting time, money, energy and effort," he said. "We have a good presence in Florida with both Democrats and Republicans. We support those folks who care about credit unions. We're known among politicians and in political circles."
"Our PAC raises more than a half-million dollars a year. Last year we raised over $600,000. On a per capita basis, based on the number of credit unions and credit union employees, that was the best in the country."
If you want to find Hood after he retires, you might head for the 10 wooded acres he and his wife own in the woods near Tallahassee. His wife's parents live in a house about 80 feet across the front lawn, so it's sort of a family compound.
He enjoys woodworking and gardening. He and his wife, an ovarian cancer survivor, are active in volunteer work on behalf of ovarian cancer victims. They're also involved in their church, and expect to travel to Illinois and Alabama from time to time to see their three grandsons.
A search committee has been formed and a firm hired to find Hood's successor. The first interviews are expected to take place in August, with the new CEO on board perhaps in mid-November.
Any advice for future generations of credit union leaders?
"This credit union system we have been entrusted with carries with it a very serious call for stewardship," Hood answered. "I really believe those of us who are today engaged in the system have a responsibility to future generations to make the system a little better than we found it. We need to cherish it, and look at the stewardship responsibility very, very seriously."
"If you have chosen credit unions as a life pursuit, with that comes a responsibility to continue building and making them better."