BY SCOTT MCCLYMONDS
This month’s CEO spotlight is Bob Allen of Teachers Federal Credit Union. Listen in as this credit union jack-of-all-trades offers up advice on how embracing change can help your CU thrive. These strategies have served him well throughout his 45-year financial services career that has witnessed dramatic changes.
What would bring together a credit union CEO from Long Island, N.Y. with a financial services consultant from Fayetteville, Ark.? The answer is simple: a passion for developing leaders who can fuel growth in the credit union industry.
This month my quest to reveal the leadership practices of some of the leading CEOs in the credit union industry took me to Bob Allen, CEO of Teachers Federal Credit Union (TFCU) on Long Island. TFCU has approximately $5 billion in assets, and Bob has been there 26 years.
During our conversation, Bob was warm, engaging and full of energy. He attributes much of his success to good health and the opportunity to work in a job and industry he loves. That’s why a 10-hour workday does not feel burdensome to him and is over before he knows it. Throughout his 45-year career in the industry, Bob has seen and embraced an abundance of change, and as CEO of TFCU, he continues to challenge himself and his colleagues as the pace of change accelerates. In fact, I would describe his leadership style as “embracing change.”
Of course, the ability to embrace and capitalize upon change is one attribute that separates great leaders from marginal ones, and there has never been a more critical time period to do that than now. Unfortunately, this mindset does not exist in every institution.
For example, recently I was speaking with a CEO and his director of branch operations about their desire to grow their institution by gaining more of their members’ wallet share and acquiring new small and mid-market business members. Upon reviewing the proposal I submitted to them, they said many of their managers and lenders are within five years of retirement and would never go for the changes suggested in the proposal.
Refusing to change because key players are within five years of retirement would not happen at TFCU under Bob Allen’s leadership. And if you consider yourself a top CEO, it shouldn’t occur under your leadership either.
Here are a few ways Bob has embraced change during his career:
1. View change as an opportunity for growth;
2. Engage in continuous self-development;
3. Understand evolving member needs within a diverse population, and make member value creation the key strategic focus;
4. Maintain financial strength through balanced growth;
5. Be prepared for acquisition opportunities;
6. Actively facilitate the creation of a skilled, educated workforce and leadership pool.