CEO VELOCITY: Creating Purpose and Relevance in Arkansas – Rodney Showmar



CU BUSINESS’s resident CEO expert sits down with Arkansas Federal Credit Union’s Rodney Showmar. This head of the largest CU in he state came to his position a bit differently from others, which gives him a unique vantage point into the important issues raised by other industry leaders.

Movement with an Identity Crisis
In my work with credit union CEOs, I sometimes hear comments like “we’re acting too much like banks,” “we need a bigger vision of who we can be,” “we can be so much more than lowrate providers” and “we’ve got to find a way to communicate the credit union advantage.” These critical and legitimate concerns come from passionate, seasoned leaders who believe the credit union movement is the best option among financial services providers.

Despite the serious nature of these concerns, I rarely see them addressed head on at the conferences I attend. The agendas are filled with presentations on Millennials, mobile banking and cyber security, but it is very rare that I have seen these topics presented in a credit union “wrapper.” National, regional and community banks are addressing the same issues, so how do credit unions tackle them in a relevant, differentiated way?

Embracing the Credit Union Difference in Arkansas
With these issues in mind, I made the three-hour journey from my home in Fayetteville, Arkansas to Little Rock to visit with Rodney Showmar, CEO of Arkansas Federal Credit Union (AFCU). AFCU is the largest credit union in the state with just over $1 billion in assets and 15 branches.

At 46 years old, Rodney has been AFCU’s CEO since August 2014, but he did not come to the position with a typical CEO background in lending or finance. Instead, he spent 13 years in the roles of COO and Vice President of Marketing at AFCU, and he worked in the retail industry the decade prior to that. His background in retail and marketing help him see things through the eyes of members, and his COO role has prepared him for executive leadership while providing a deep understanding of the day-to-day issues facing the credit union.

I was eager to visit with Rodney since he was relatively new to his role as CEO and has led AFCU through a cultural transformation as he and his executive team have sought to not only reinvent themselves but also create better member and employee experiences. I wondered if the cultural change addressed any of the important issues other industry leaders are raising.

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