Young Leaders Reflect on Industry Changes
Nearly two years ago, CU Times featured professionals under 40 serving on boards who were looking forward to making positive contributions to advance the credit union movement. Recently, we caught up with some of them to find out what they have experienced and accomplished while serving on their respective boards since 2012.
Josh Roberts, 34
Young Professional Advisory Member
Wisconsin Credit Union League Board
After joining the Wisconsin Credit Union League's Young Professionals Network Board in 2012, Josh Roberts was later named to one of the two seats of young professional advisory members on the league's board.
While he had to leave his post on the YPN board, he continues to participate in that organization's conference calls and meetings. Roberts, a controller for the $28 million Enterprise Credit Union in Brookfield, Wis., also serves on the league's government affairs committee.
“Young professionals who are fortunate enough to be able to participate in leadership and training opportunities are far more likely to make credit unions their ultimate career,” said Roberts. “When young professionals are engaged in their credit unions and understand how their credit union works along with the movement as a whole, they are likely to make the sale that credit unions are the better choice for consumers and their peers to make credit unions their primary financial institution.”
While on the YPN board, Roberts participated in the development of boot camps on different educational topics such as leadership, innovation and advocacy for young professionals throughout Wisconsin. He also supported the development of more advanced topics so that young professionals could deepen their credit union knowledge.
YPN has since grown from 25 members in 2012 to more than 300 members today, according to Roberts.
Miriam De Dios, 32
Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals Board
Since 2012, Miriam De Dios has been busy working with her fellow board members on the Network of Latino Credit Unions and Professionals to define the strategic objectives of the national organization.
Those objectives include cataloging and promoting credit union best practices in serving the Latino community and supporting Latino representation in credit union employees, management and volunteer boards. In addition, NLCUP provides educational sessions at a national level, delivering ongoing communications about Hispanic outreach, maintaining an interactive website to support network's goals and collaborating with Hispanic organizations that support these goals.
“NLCUP had been partnering with CUNA on delivering education services to their members, and discussions were had to determine whether a more intense and formal partnership was needed to pursue some of the educational opportunities NLCUP wanted to provide its members,” said De Dios, CEO of the Des Moines, Iowa-based consulting firm Coopera Consulting, which assists credit unions with Hispanic outreach efforts.
There was also a discussion of looking at other strategic partners that could help NLCUP fulfill other objectives, she said. As De Dios sees it, one of the most pressing challenges facing the credit union industry is membership and product growth.
“I advocate for serving emerging and untapped markets, in particular the Hispanic market, to address growth challenges as an industry,” said De Dios.
The Hispanic population grew to 53 million in 2012, a 50% increase since 2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2020, that number is expected to jump to nearly 60 million.
Cody Thomas, 30
Ravalli County Federal Credit Union Board
Cody Thomas said he's had a positive, eye-opening experience as the youngest board member of the $34.2 million Ravalli County Federal Credit Union in Hamilton, Mont.
He plans to run for a second term in May and hopes to attract more young women to fill future board vacancies.
“We have a lot of women members but we don't have a lot of women board members,” said Thomas, a production leader at a GlaxoSmithKline manufacturing plant. “We did have two women board members, but we are losing one and we would like to recruit another woman, perhaps a younger one, to reflect our membership.”
As a board member, Thomas has been a strong supporter of the credit union's current technology project to improve its online and mobile capabilities.
“It will be a substantial upgrade,” said Thomas. “The new system will enable us to provide new services, and improve members’ access to online and mobile banking with new functions and features. The new software system also will give us better access to data that we can use to improve our services for our members.”
While credit unions face many challenges, Thomas believes they can remain viable by continuing to serve the needs of members.
Gavin Galimi, 41
University of Southern California Credit Union Board
Gavin Galimi, board member of the $378 million University of Southern California Credit Union in Los Angeles, said the cooperative's priorities have shifted over the past couple of years from defense to offense.
“In 2012, the effects of the Great Recession were just starting to wear off and defense was still a big part of the playbook,” said Galimi, an executive vice president of March Vision Care Inc., a Los Angeles-based health care company. “Now, offense has taken the field, and we have a lot going on for our members.”
For example, USC CU opened a new branch in Irvine, re-entered the student loan arena with loan consolidation offerings and supplemented the cooperative's credit card with new USC Trojan rewards.
On the technology front, Galimi said the board enhanced the credit union's mobile app to allow remote check deposits. The board is also working on a multi-year initiative to develop a virtual branch that would enable members to do all of their transactions remotely.
“With the proliferation of technology, it makes it even more challenging for credit unions to always have the exact right products at the right time for our members,” Galimi observed. “On the other hand, technology enables credit unions to gather more information that can allow them to better customize and scale products to meet the need of members.”
Because continuing low rates and growing compliance burdens are expected to be the norm in the foreseeable future, Galimi believes credit unions have to revisit expanding noninterest income sources and offering ancillary products. In addition to increasing revenues, Galimi also believes credit unions need to pursue more formal and informal collaboration efforts to keep reducing operational costs.