CEO Larry Hayes Hits the Ground Running
When it comes to putting a plan in place and then bringing it to life, Larry Hayes doesn’t like to waste time pontificating on minutiae.
So much so that when he was hired in mid-June to become president/CEO of CU Holding Co., a Lenexa, Kan.-based CUSO that manages the strategic direction of six CUSOs, he put together a six-month flexible operating plan that mapped out visions and goals for each entity.
This was all before his first official start date of July 2.
“I’m a quick start,” Hayes said. “The reason why the plan is flexible is because when you move into something new, you’re likely to run into things you didn’t anticipate.”
Hayes will lead CU Holding, a wholly owned subsidiary the $475 million Mazuma Credit Union in Kansas City, Mo. It oversees the management of Beyond Marketing LLC, XtraCash LLC, TruHome Solutions, TruHome Title Solutions, Cooperative Payroll Solutions LLC, and MEMBERS Development Co.
Hayes succeeds Lisa Renner, who resigned in January to start a consulting firm after more than 10 years as CEO of CU Holding.
With a credit union career spanning 26 years, Hayes got his start at the $53 million HUD Federal Credit Union in Washington. Most recently, he served as vice president of marketing and business development at the $335 million First Service Credit Union (formerly Right Choice Credit Union) in Houston.
Hayes’ career also included a vice president of marketing position at the $437 million HFS Federal Credit Union, Hilo, Hawaii, as well as positions at several other credit unions in Hawaii and California.
In addition to owning a business consulting firm assisting credit unions in the areas of strategic planning, marketing strategies, promotions, business development and financial statement analysis, Hayes also taught classes for the formerly named D.C. League of Credit Unions.
It was the wealth of experience that ultimately put Hayes in the lead for the top spot at CU Holding.
“Larry’s leadership, personal drive for success and business acumen are qualities we searched for in our national recruiting process,” said Brandon Michaels, president/CEO of Mazuma Credit Union. “His ability to see opportunities in difficult situations will serve CU Holding Co. LLC and the entire credit union industry well.”
After meeting with officials at each of the CUSOs, plans are well underway to provide confidence in their business partners and staff to show that paths will lead to success, Hayes said. For one, Beyond Marketing, one of CU Holding’s largest investments, is poised to build a stronger online presence. The website is undergoing an overhaul that includes listing staff profiles with new titles for the graphic designers–a move in keeping up with their evolving roles, Hayes explained.
As Beyond Marketing increases it response time to requests for proposals, Hayes said there will be more online interactivity through microsites, dynamic links and a new initiative to offer social media profiles to businesses. He’s discovering that many of them and their marketing departments don’t know how to set up a Facebook page. A first test is set to roll out in the middle of August.
“Larry has hit the ground running by identifying some areas that Beyond Marketing should expand into, in order to serve the marketing needs of our clients and prospective clients more effectively,” Michaels said.
XtraCash, the payday lending CUSO, is gearing up for a huge initiative to help drive the control of the service, Hayes said. Some states have ballot initiatives that aim to put a ceiling on the annual percentage rate a lender can charge.
“I understand that. We’re not trying to gouge anyone. I just don’t want members to run into the arms of payday lenders at strip malls,” Hayes said.
Because there are a number of members around the country who have a need for the loans, XtraCash is moving forward with a plan to better promote the emergency funds as an alternative. The CUSO has the lending software for credit unions to implement that can help members who might not qualify for signature loan to offer a payday loan for less than overdraft protection, Hayes said.
TruHome Solutions, the mortgage origination and servicing CUSO, is putting together a plan to do more mortgage campaigns.
“With rates being as low as they are, all you have to do is speak to the right audience,” Hayes offered.
At press time, Hayes had just wrapped up a meeting with Cooperative Payroll, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-based CUSO that provides payroll processing to businesses. The gist of the discussion was how to offer the payroll solutions to more potential clients. Hayes will be meeting with MEMBERS Development Co. in August. The CUSO in Madison, Wis., develops new products and services.
While there has been a flurry of activity since Hayes came on board, it would all be naught if he didn’t have everyone buying into the vision for CU Holding and the six CUSOs.
“The staff here is so enthusiastic about where we’re headed,” Hayes said. “I wasn’t sure if they would embrace those robust strategies that I’m trying to implement. It’s going to take a lot of sweat equity. That doesn’t mean we’re going to hire a bunch of people. It’s an expense load. We have the capability with the current staff.”
In an industry that has been somewhat flat, as Hayes described it, CU Holding is in a position to shore up existing businesses while being financially sound. At least three years down the road, he sees the CUSO as a nationally recognized CUSO in and outside of the credit union industry. By the end of the year, Hayes and his team will meet to assess how to make that happen. It’s a goal shared by Michaels.
“My goals for CU Holding are such that they will become a national player in the credit union industry, within the next three to five years,” Michaels said. “In order to get there, we must ensure the foundation is solid, and that we are thinking in ways that represent the needs of our industry.”
From Hayes’ perspective, what may help is working together rather than against the NCUA to ensure that CUSOs have the latitude to offer products and services to keep credit unions competitive while adhering to due diligence along the way.
The regulator recently decided to go back to the drawing board on a CUSO rule amendment proposal that would have required CUSOs to file financial reports directly with NCUA and the appropriate state supervisory authority. The regulator also proposed making additional parts of the CUSO rule applicable to federally insured state-chartered CUs as well as federal credit unions.
“I don’t have a problem with NCUA wanting more due diligence,” Hayes said. “I come from an environment where you want to make sure your house is clean. Where we may fail is if we don’t talk to the NCUA–how can we accomplish what NCUA wants and cut down on red tape.”
The intricacies of CUSO collaboration especially when there are a number of people and boards involved can be a daunting task. In his new role, Hayes will have to weave in and out six CUSOs in addition to their credit union partners and owners.
“To me, it isn’t about ego. I think egos arise when there’s a dearth of leadership. In order to oversee CUSOs, you better have a sense of urgency and recognize that you have business partners invested in you,” Hayes said. “The idea is not to get into a fight with them. You can take things up in strategic planning.”
Michaels said a shakeup at the top can be rewarding. The areas that Hayes has already identified in such a short amount of time will allow CU Holding to better serve the needs of its clients and their members.
“I believe that change in leadership is good. Sometimes, when an individual remains in a position for too long, they lose the ability to look at situations with fresh perspectives.”