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PORTLAND, Ore. – Oregon’s largest credit union has selected a Bank of America executive to lead the $2 billion credit union as CEO. Robert A. Stuart, 37, takes over effective Feb. 1. Stuart will replace longtime CEO Cliff Dias, who announced his retirement last August. Dias will stay on until June 1 to assist in the transition. It was a closely watched CEO search due to the CU’s size as well as its growth potential with its new 10-county community charter and less restrictive name. Up until Jan. 1, OnPoint was Portland Teachers CU, a venerable name in the Portland area, but the credit union felt it may have been too exclusive going forward. “We got a really, really good mix of candidates,” said OnPoint Chairman Steve Gray, who has been on the board for 18 years. The board used worldwide search firm Korn/Ferry International. Gray said Stuart rose to the top of the list primarily because of his experience in consumer banking in the Portland-metropolitan market. As senior vice president, consumer banking for the Portland Metro Oregon Market for Bank of America, Stuart oversaw 45 BofA branches in the area. Last year BofA’s share in this market grew 18.6% under Stuart. At 37, he was one of the youngest candidates, also a plus, said Gray. “You always have a lot more time when you have a younger candidate, that’s a nice thing to have,” said Gray. Stuart is also a native Oregonian, something that did not go unnoticed by the board, said Gray. “Being a native Oregonian is huge. There’s something to be said about someone who is a native or lived here most of their life. They really like this place and don’t want to leave. It’s a great opportunity for him and his wife to stay in the area.” Stuart is a former banker, and while bankers are becoming more common additions to the credit union CEO ranks, some still worry about the philosophy they have coming in. This has never been a concern at OnPoint. The CU has only had five CEOs in its history, and with Stuart, three of those are former bankers. Dias was a banker as was his predecessor, John Beckwith. “It’s not a concern. He’s real clear that the goal is not to make profits for the stockholder. It’s a membership organization and he’s an individual who understands service. Basically, he needs to change a word – customers to members,” said Gray. Stuart was noticeably touched about his new position. “I consider myself very blessed to have this wonderful opportunity. It’s my chance to continue the strong member loyalty here,” he said. Stuart said any success a financial institution has these days comes from one thing, keeping customers happy. He said all the marketing BofA does and its strong brand identity doesn’t mean anything if the service isn’t there. He even cited some service techniques that steal from the credit union philosophy. “It is really simple. If you have tellers that smile and greet clients and use their name, you create very loyal clients. Come visit one of my [former] branches and you’d know what I mean. The very best advertising you can have is someone saying to someone else, `I’m getting awesome service at this institution’,” said Stuart. He said it all starts with keeping employees excited and fulfilled. “I take over for a wonderful leader who really, really cared about his employees. Employee loyalty is the most important thing I focus on.” Time For Search, Time For Transition Dias was in his native Hawaii at the time of the announcement, where he plans to spend a good deal of his retirement. In a somewhat unique move, the board kept Dias involved in the process, including sitting in on the interviews. “What I personally got out of this process was the opportunity to meet some very talented and wonderful people and learn of their career paths and their interest for the future. To a person, they were all highly qualified,” said Dias. Dias had been telling his board for the last few years that he was planning on retiring. He decided to give notice nine months in advance, which gave the board time to act in replacing a CEO it didn’t want to lose. “I cannot recommend to other credit unions what the ideal time is for the CEO to give notice of resignation, but nine months worked out perfect for OnPoint. I will be able to spend four months in transition with Rob. I do feel, though, that when a person is tapped for the position, they should be given the title and authority immediately. It will avoid awkward moments for both the outgoing CEO and on-deck CEO,” said Dias. “Rob and I have never met before the interview process although he knew of me as many of the people that worked for me in banking now work for him at BofA. What I have come to learn is that he has great people skills, knows how to grow a business, has lots of integrity, is highly regarded by BofA, and is simply a very nice person,” said Dias. Stuart’s career with BofA spans 15 years. He managed several of the bank’s branches. He served in marketing, sales, and was president of Bank of America, Idaho, before landing in his current position with the bank. The board of OnPoint has not yet shared its strategic plan with Stuart, but it plans to very soon. Stuart believes Oregon’s I-5 corridor, which includes Portland, Salem and Eugene, will continue to grow and present more growth opportunities for the credit union. When OnPoint assumed its community charter, it did emphasize its desire to open more branches. Stuart has helped BofA open eight new locations in the last 18 months. “Bank of America has been very bullish on the I-5 corridor,” said Stuart. A veteran of consumer banking, Stuart said it’s as competitive today as it’s ever been. “Everyone is going after a little niche, or trying to deepen relationships with members or customers. The one thing that will set any institution apart is customer delight, or now I’ll call it member delight, being satisfied. If we win with member satisfaction, the sky is the limit.” Stuart is an avid outdoorsman. He enjoys fly-fishing, hiking, and golfing. “This job lets me stay where I want to be,” said Stuart. He resides in the Portland area with his wife Stacey. [email protected]

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