Hit hard by the recession, Tampa, Fla.-based GTE Federal Credit Union is fighting back.
Joe Brancucci, who took over as president/CEO of GTE in 2010, said that the company was not prepared to deal with the recession. He mentioned that there was a shortage of talent in the organization, there had been merger discussions with Suncoast Schools CU and they weren’t replacing people.
“It was an organization that needed a strategic plan,” he said.
Brancucci spoke with members and staff to discuss the state of the CU and where the company was headed. He has continued that method of communication–sometimes emailing his employees as often as four times per week to keep them up to speed on what’s happening within the company–and GTE’s website even has a link to email Brancucci directly with questions or comments. He said he receives between three and five emails per day from the site.
“I answer them all,” he said. “I want the members to feel in control of their credit union.”
The email is not just a facade to trick members into thinking they have a voice. After some complaints, a 25 cent fee for debit transactions was eliminated for certain members and other fees were cut.
In addition, share certificate rates became more competitive and a platinum credit card was introduced. Also, a member advantage program was rolled out and there are discounts on loans and higher certificate rates. A Member Advantage Program was rolled out. It offers a 6.99%nt APY on the first $500 in both the eligible members’ checking and savings accounts.
Brancucci also introduced a strategic plan that he described as very concise and well-articulated.
“We implemented it as part of who we are, and it focuses on creating engaged employees, who deliver a unique member experience that in turn creates engaged members,” he said.
He believes the approach is paying off, as even before new offers and advertising rolled out prior to Bank Transfer Day the credit union saw membership rise 31%.
The first six months of 2011 saw a turnaround rise compared to the first six months of 2010 at GTEFCU (see table).
GTEFCU’s Bauer financial rating went up from two stars, generally problematic, on June 30, 2010 to three stars, adequate, on June 30, 2011. During that same period, loan charge-offs dropped from $15.4 million to $10.8 million.
Perhaps the most telling stat is that a loss of $44.04 million during the 2009 calendar year turned into a 2011 year-to-date profit of $1.4 million. At one point the company’s capital was below 7%, it’s now at 7.21%. Furthermore, a 5% pay cut has been restored.
“Moving from very significant loss years, this year we will be marginally profitable even after the NCUA investment payment,” Brancucci said. “Our delinquency still looks high, but most of our delinquencies are delinquent mortgage loans that got caught in the foreclosure process in the state of Florida, which takes way too long. Our delinquency is actually very, very good right now.”
“Consumer loan demand has increased. The problem is we have such a heavy runoff because of the way the portfolio was built over the last five years. It takes a lot of loans to match that runoff. We think a different trend will start this month and next month and we’ll see growth in the loan portfolio. The quality of the loan portfolio is much higher than it has ever been.”
Brancucci said the staff now has both breadth and depth. Since July 2010, there has been an 80% turnover in the executive ranks. Despite the fact that there are only 427 employees, there is still a ratio of more than one employee to every 400 members, which is higher than Brancucci would like compared to many peers. The number of branches has been reduced though.
Brancucci has tried to build member interaction at the community level. For example, about 800 members turned out for a recent Memberfest, which included activities such as financial literacy seminars, on-site shredding, computer diagnostics by the credit union’s technical experts and a meet and greet with Brancucci himself and other management.
“It was incredibly fun and rewarding to see the engagement of our members of all ages,” he said.
Brancucci, in his 42nd year in financial services, graduated from Hofstra University with a BA in economics and English. He spent the first half of his time in the workforce in banks and savings and loans before moving to credit unions. He arrived at GTE FCU from Boeing Employees Credit Union, where he was executive VP/chief operating officer. He said his time at BECU provided him with virtually a Ph.D. in credit unions. He founded Prime Alliance Solutions Inc., which provides mortgage services to CUs.
About GTE FCU
Assets: $1.5 billion
Capital-to-asset ratio: 7.21%
Loans: $1 billion
Field of membership: Multiple common bond, primarily communications and utilities.
About Joe Brancucci
Graduate of Hofstra University
President/CEO since 2010