Name: Gary Moody
CU: Credit Union ONE (OC)
Assets: $780 million
CEO Since: 2006
First Employed in
CU Movement: 1996
Gary Moody quickly built an impressive résumé upon entering the working world, but by 2006, reading through his credentials was beginning to become somewhat of a time commitment.
In just 12 years since graduating from the former Detroit College of Law (now the Michigan State University College of Law), Moody had seen the financial service industry from nearly every angle. He’d drafted banking laws, analyzed policy, spread the credit union message to legislators and in the media with the MCUL, served as an adviser to NASCUS — in short, he had already garnered the kind of experience it takes some a career to accumulate. So when the chance arose to take up perhaps his most challenging role yet, one that would draw on all of his prior knowledge and give him the reigns to one of Michigan’s largest credit unions, Credit Union ONE — he naturally accepted the opportunity.
Now, seated in his office in Ferndale on a crisp, fall afternoon, Moody has a chance to reflect on how his position as CEO has enhanced his perspective after nearly a year on the job.
“You cannot appreciate or gain an understanding of what it truly takes in terms of time, effort and talent needed to run any size credit union until you are in the water doing it every day,” Moody says. “I was always a strong believer in the value of membership and the philosophy of credit unions – but you really can’t understand until you actually do it.”
Credit union operations were not entirely foreign to Moody, as he served as general counsel for Credit Union ONE prior to becoming CEO. But the experience of working directly with members was brand new.
“Interacting with members face-to-face and via e-mail has opened my eyes to just how valuable our industry is to people and their families,” he says. “The individual stories of how we have had a positive impact on a family stick with you and make you realize just how great the concept of a cooperative financial institution is.”
Credit Union ONE’s 10-year-old main branch and administrative office is located about a block away from where the credit union was founded in 1938. The building — and indeed, the scope of the credit union itself statewide — is sizable, which has made it an appealing target for the banking community.
Moody files through some papers on his desk and lays out part of a packet recently provided to lawmakers by the American Bankers Association (ABA), which profiled larger credit unions in an attempt to portray them as too big and out of touch to maintain their tax-exempt status. This particular page outlined Credit Union ONE.
“It’s comical,” Moody chuckles. “Yes, we’re large, but it depends on what you do with those assets. Whether you have $10 billion or $10 million, how do you service your members and their communities?”
Dealing with these bank attacks during his first year of transitioning into the role of CEO has not fazed Moody. As former Government and Public Affairs vice president for the MCUL, he is no stranger to defending credit unions as positive forces in their communities. Credit Union ONE is active in charitable donations and financial literacy efforts, and has provided the flexibility needed to assist families struggling in Michigan’s economy — key points Moody focused on when advocating for credit unions with the MCUL.
“I like to think I played a role in continuing and advancing the tradition of the MCUL being among the top lobbying and political fund-raising operations in the Credit Union System during my time there,” he says. “As the market has changed, I believe the MCUL has shifted accordingly.”
Moody admits that in a time of high unemployment, foreclosures and bankruptcies, new taxes and a restructuring of the manufacturing sector, it’s difficult to be too upbeat. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” he says.
But despite this, Moody believes there is a silver lining for the credit union industry.
“Overall, we are a well capitalized industry and most will weather this storm and actually be stronger for making it through such a difficult time,” he says. “For those of us that are living through this now, operating in this environment teaches you a lot about what you do and how you do it. Ultimately, the economy will recover, and we’ll be much more prepared to handle what the economy throws us in the future. It reminds me of the African proverb — ‘Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.’”
No matter how turbulent Michigan’s economy or what challenges the credit union industry must deal with, Moody’s outlook reflects a man calm, steady and knowledgeable.
“My goals are to be a positive and strong influence on my children and community,” he says. “With the credit union, my immediate goals are to continue on the path of reorganization and reinvention that builds a foundation for sustainable growth.
“Long term, it’s not about being the biggest or having the most branches. It’s about first-class member service and meeting our members’ needs.”