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MEMBER BUSINESS LENDING: Building a Winning MBL Team

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BY RYAL TAYLOE

If your credit union is just entering the member business lending game, there are a few rules to play by if you want to up your program’s success. Chief among them is securing the right talent. These six team-building strategies can help your CU take home the MBL championship trophy.

Legendary basketball player Michael Jordan once said, “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” This mentality applies off the court as well. In today’s competitive lending environment, building a strong team is essential to ensuring growth and success. For credit unions that are new to member business lending (MBL) – or considering starting an MBL program – hiring the right people is perhaps the most critical component of your program. So how can your credit union build a championship MBL team? Below are a few suggestions.
Define the culture. First and foremost, it’s imperative that your credit union has a clearly defined mission, vision and set of core values that are ingrained in the culture and accepted by everyone at your institution. Be able to clearly articulate the direction you want your MBL program to take to ease the transition in structure. Promote individuals who will be ambassadors for your values and management style so that your culture is sustainable as the organization grows. Remember that you can always train someone in the necessary skills to complete the tasks associated with his or her job, but it’s much more difficult to change someone’s attitude. Make sure you hire individuals who fit your culture and share your long-term vision.

Recruit the right talent. Recruiting top-notch talent can be a challenge in any industry, and financial services is no exception. Compensation and benefits are especially competitive in today’s market, and many credit unions find they need to offer additional perks to attract and retain the right talent. For instance, Northwest Federal Credit Union offers a generous benefits package designed to support employees’ physical, financial and emotional well-being. It includes a retirement plan with employer match, tuition reimbursement and discounts to local merchants.
Credit unions new to commercial lending may experience initial “sticker shock” when trying to hire an experienced and talented lender. These individuals often demand much higher salaries than a typical credit union employee, particularly if they were former bankers. However, it’s important to look at this cost as an investment in resources. Understand the market, and make sure you are aware of compensation packages and hiring practices in your geographic area so you can be competitive. And as Jason Bierman, vice president & chief administrative officer of Corning Credit Union advises, “Above all, understand that this is not cheap.”

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