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2023 AC&E: Panels on Young Professionals and Bank Acquisitions

On Friday morning, MCUL CEO Patty Corkery opened Center Stage! by reporting some fundraising numbers from the previous day. The silent and live auctions raised $48,000, while the fun run/walk raised an additional $15,000, which means the AC&E raised a total of $63,000 between the two events for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

She then mentioned the Young Professional Conference held on Wednesday of the AC&E was attended by 160 young professionals, adding, “Yesterday, I mentioned that this was my 24th time at this event. I hope, one day, some of you will be able to say you’ve been here for your 20th or 30th time.”

Corkery then introduced Jeff Rendel, president of Rising Above Enterprises, to present his keynote, “Building Thriving Organizational Cultures: Empowering Tomorrow's Leaders.”

Jeff Rendel

jeffRendel told the audience that he wants to talk about the next generation of leadership, “The next group of CEOs for your credit unions are right here in the audience with us today.”

He started by charting how the employee experience has evolved over the last few decades, from basic tools and “employees as cogs,” to a focus on culture and work-life balance. Now, he continued, there are new ideas about being a leader at every level, building a career path for employees, regular recognition, strategy sharing and wellness programs.

On staff retention, he said many of the incentives he’s seen used throughout the country go well beyond the standard paycheck. Incentives include housekeeping stipend, fitness subsidies, onsite meals, tuition reimbursement, community involvement and childcare assistance.

Then, for executive retention, Rendel focused on long-term compensation, executive development, advanced degree reimbursement, league leadership and helping them grow their personal interests.

“The idea is, if we help you grow professionally, you will be more committed to our organization,” said Rendel.

“Be competitive and be creative,” he said was his main advice. He went on to say that companies that invest in their employees outperform those that don’t — and that investment can result in up to four times the rate of profitability. He continued, saying, “Increased engagement results in twice the innovation.”

In other words, engaged employees are thinking about new ways to do their job.

Young Professional Panel

YPsRendel then introduced a panel to talk more about young professionals and how to grow professional development. The panel included: Dylan Bloniarz (Embers Credit Union), Candy Keene (University of Michigan Credit Union), Kyle Zagunis (One Detroit Credit Union), Monique Day (4Front Credit Union) and Chantelle Farley (Lake Trust Credit Union).

When asked what’s most important to them about an employer, the group mentioned room for growth within an organization, an acceptance of ideas from leadership, having leaders that you can trust and that challenge you and opportunities for volunteering.

The panel also discussed the importance of a shared belief in your organization’s mission statement, which, at credit unions, includes helping neighbors’ financial journey, serving the underserved and helping to create a world where everyone can thrive financially.

Rendel asked the group about how credit union advocacy fits within their professional evolution, how they’ve gotten involved in advocacy and what it means to the credit union’s overall goal.

The panel touched on their experiences Hiking the Hill in DC, fighting against payday lending and trying to spread to fellow young professionals the need for getting involved, politically.

They finished the discussion by touching on mentorship and how young professionals should find a mentor if they’re really interested in growing in the industry.

Bank Acquisition Panel

bankMCUL CEO Patty Corkery then introduced the second panel of the morning. This one, on credit union acquisitions of banks, included the following experienced individuals: Charley McQueen (McQueen Financial Advisors), Terry O’Rourke (United Federal Credit Union), Andy Kempf (4Front Credit Union) and Debi Southworth (OMNI Community Credit Union).

After giving some statistical context around the landscape for credit union acquisitions of banks, Corkery asked the panel about what they’ve been seeing lately on this front.

“Liquidity is one of the key reasons to buy a bank,” said McQueen, who said acquiring a bank in the right location is a great way to improve financial standing.

O’Rourke spoke about a bank acquisition from 2021 and how it helped United increase their presence in that market and acquire the talent involved. He said they realized they would be losing something if an organization from outside the market came in to acquire that bank, so there was a defense element to the acquisition.

Kempf said 4Front’s acquisition was part of a growth strategy based on an internal study of geography and demographics and where it made sense for them to expand.

There’s a culture aspect to all acquisitions, Kempf continued, saying they had to think about who was involved in the acquisition, including what type of member base the bank had and how they fit within 4Front’s larger mission.

O’Rourke was asked how a credit union avoids a bank-like reputation after a bank acquisition, to which he said the big thing is making sure you don’t act like a bank. It all depends, he said, on what you do with the bank after you acquire it, speaking to maintaining the people helping people mission.

Southworth discussed OMNI’s experience with acquisitions starting in 2015, saying each one was a part of a larger plan to grow their footprint. She also said that one acquisition gave them an opportunity to help a community. They purchased a closed bank branch that refused to hire locally, and once it was acquired, it allowed OMNI to employ from within that community.

She advised credit unions that are looking into acquisitions of closed bank branches to look into all potential restrictions beforehand.

McQueen told attendees to make sure you know where you want to go, if you’re thinking about getting involved in an acquisition, rather than trying to figure it out as you go along. And, going off Southworth’s anecdote, he said to think about what you’re going to do differently than that bank you are acquiring.

He also advised credit union leaders to make sure they communicate with team members and future team members what an acquisition means for them, because they will be thinking about and concerned about the future of their position.

O’Rourke agreed, saying, “Over-communicate with them.”

Continuing, his advice to attendees interested in similar transactions was to get involved in a third-party organization to help fully understand what you’re getting into. He also said you’re going to want to move quickly, “Don’t drag your feet on a transaction.”

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