CU: Christian Financial
Credit Union Assets: $232 million
In CU Movement 1995
People who are passionate about credit unions often have a formative experience, a realization that financial services can be a positive force for individuals and communities. For Patty Campbell, that experience came after five years with an international accounting firm that gave her perspective and experience in the for-profit banking world.
Campbell, now president and CEO of Roseville-based Christian Financial Credit Union, worked for KPMG, but was looking to take a few years off to spend time with her young children. After letting her employer know of her decision, a partner at the firm told her about SERF Credit Union, which was looking for a temporary replacement for their CFO.
“After being in the credit union for three months I knew this was something I needed to be a part of,” says Campbell. “When I left, a banking partner at KPMG said to me, ‘you know they don’t have stock options,’ and I thought to myself, ‘yes, but they have heart.’ That partner is a credit union member today.”
From when she began as CFO fourteen years ago, SERF Credit Union has grown from $42 million in assets to more than $230 million. The rapid expansion allowed her to be a part of nearly every function and process in the organization, build relationships with many employees, and gain multiple perspectives on the role of a CEO.
“I believe what best prepared me for the job is a simple statement from my long time mentor, Dick Quigley, SERF’s previous CEO. He told me that to be a CEO is a gift and a responsibility to serve both members and employees,” says Campbell. “The second part is easy – I work alongside some of the most gifted and committed individuals I know.”
For a credit union in southeast Michigan, helping the community means helping the auto industry. The daughter of a Chrysler retiree, Campbell grew up in Warren and earned a B.S. in accounting from Wayne State University. Today, her husband of 20 years is an engineer for GM, and together they have two busy teenagers and are actively involved in their church. The personal investment in the auto industry and in metro Detroit strengthens Campbell’s support for local families, local jobs, and the Big Three.
Campbell has been able to channel that passion into support for the “Invest in America” program, which Christian Financial has promoted to its members.
“The leadership at the MCUL recognized a need and made an opportunity for credit unions to embrace ‘Invest in America’ and achieve long-due recognition for the work we do,” Campbell says. “I could not be more proud that our industry stepped up to build this program.”
The credit union has also been a leader in small business lending for more than 20 years. Beginning with real estate and equipment loans, Christian Financial saw the need to expand beyond what it could accomplish on its own, so the credit union formed Michigan Business Connection, a commercial lending CUSO. The collaboration, a five-credit-union partnership, is run by experienced banking-industry lenders and helps diversify risk for the participants.
“Unemployment is a major issue facing Michigan today,” says Campbell. “With many of the larger national banks redlining the state, I believe that credit unions and community banks have an opportunity to assist in providing much needed financing.”
For many of the individuals hardest hit by the tough state economy, the “Save to Win” program has been an added incentive to put money aside. Christian Financial’s participation has helped nearly 2,000 members save $1.4 million dollars this year, also making them each eligible for the $100,000 grand prize drawing in January. Credit unions interested in taking part in “Save to Win” can contact CUcorp’s Maureen Lafrinere at 800-262-6285 ext. 242 or Maureen.Lafrinere@cucorp.com.
Campbell’s efforts have been an asset not only to Christian Financial’s members and her local community, but to the credit union community. Through building partnerships among credit unions and industry leaders, she exemplifies the cooperative spirit.