CUSOs Get Creative to Woo Top MBL Talent
As the demand for senior-level managers with experience in commercial and business lending heats up, CUSOs are deploying a number of strategies to woo talent away from competitors.
The average base salary in 2013 in the credit union industry for commercial lenders not leading a team of lenders was $116,846, according to the 5th Annual Commercial Lender Salary from Smith & Wilkinson, an executive search firm in Scarborough, Maine, which culled 846 responses. For public banks, it was $135,841 followed by $128,370 for mutuals and other cooperatives and $118,393 for privately or closely-held banks.
As expected, the average salaries were higher for those commercial lenders leading a team of lenders with credit unions, again, at the bottom of the ranking at $123,241 and public banks topping the list at $159,935. The average base salaries for mutuals and other cooperatives was $151,745 and $135,704 for privately or closely-held banks.
“In our candidate-driven market where top candidates are being sought by multiple banking and financial institutions, future employers have to realize that their organization’s brand, as well as the experience or perception that staff provides during the interviewing process will be the most important factors that are evaluated by exceptional talent,” said Carll Wilkinson, managing partner of Smith & Wilkinson.
At Member Business Financial Services LLC in Trevose, Pa., the CUSO has to meet or slightly exceed the salary levels of banks or local credit unions because it is very limited in the amount of perks it can offer employees, said Mark Ritter, CEO.
“Metro Philadelphia is two hours away and I find hiring much more challenging to hire people here,” said Ritter, who previously worked as vice president of business lending at the $2.5 billion Members 1st Credit Union in Mechanicsburg, Pa.
He added, “At Members 1st, I could hire in a 40 to 50 mile radius and expect people to stay with the organization for a long time. In the Philadelphia area, competition for employees is intense and I have to deal with factors such as traffic patterns. Realistically, I can hire from a 10 to 15 mile radius at the CUSO.”
It’s getting harder to not only attract top talent to CUSOs but also at credit unions, said Mark Bostock, president/CEO of Centennial Lending, a mortgage and commercial lending CUSO in Longmont, Colo.
“I hear the same complaints from credit unions and friends I have in community banks. As folks retire, there doesn’t seem to be the skilled talent to move up and replace them,” said Bostock. “There doesn’t seem to be the management trainee programs that there were back in the mid-eighties when I came out of college. No one wants to train their employees from the ground up anymore.”
To fill in the gaps, Centennial Lending started a management trainee program five years ago, said Bostock. The CUSO hired business students right out of college and trained them. The first two trainees are now working at the CUSO with one in charge of the IT department and the other involved in servicing. Centennial Lending also has two other that are doing very well, he noted.
“We will continue to look outside for good talent, but we will also continue to train our own future management,” said Bostock. “As far as incentives for retaining our top talent, we started offering a deferred comp plan to our senior management several years ago. This has worked well so far.”