What I learned in my first year as a CEO - Part 2
July 16, 2019
By: Jim Struble
This goes without saying, but I’m going to anyway. Listening is the most important thing you can do as a leader, parent, and as a person in general. Knowing this has served me well especially in the last year!
When we moved halfway across the country, pulling the kids out of their school partway through the year to attend a new one, I learned about listening on a whole new level. Sometimes all you can do is listen. When your 12-year-old daughter is navigating unfamiliar middle school halls, all you can do is listen. When all four kids are missing old friends, and referring to the house you moved away from as “home,” all you can do is listen. I’ve discovered that one of the more painful lessons as a dad is that you can’t always fix it. I try to be patient, understanding, and loving towards my kids but I’ve also mostly been able to address the issues they face. I’m guessing part of having kids who are moving into the pre-teen and teen years means that I’m going to have to get used to this new reality!
However, sometimes, you can do more than listen. When it came to Electro this last year, we listened to members and staff alike about our products, services, and overall standing as a financial institution compared to others—the good and the bad. Markets had been changing, offerings at other financial institutions had been evolving, and our staff and members were taking notice.
Luckily, Electro is full of great people who want to lead the charge when it comes to change! In the last year, we have not only pushed an agenda forward to become a better employer as discussed in ‘Part 1,’ but have also pushed hard to have better products, services, and rates for our members!
It took a few months to compile all we had learned from listening to members and staff, but by the time our Strategic Planning session with the Board came around, we were armed with data, feedback, and plans to collaborate. Before we knew it, we were launching new or improved products and services at an amazing rate!
December brought a launch of a high-yield checking account, a cash-back checking account, and high-yield savings to complement these. Kasasa Cash Checking, Kasasa Cash-Back Checking, and Kasasa Saver accounts have become some of our quickest growing, and most popular that we offer! December also brought the launch of our Superior Money Market. A tier with a fantastic rate that can be enjoyed by both members and member-businesses (and has been growing tremendously).
January brought the launch of a new savings account –Save to Win. This account rewards those who save at least $25 a month with chances to win cash prizes up to $5,000! With American families on average not able to withstand a $500 unexpected cost without borrowing, we knew this would be a beneficial product to launch.
In February, we began meeting with various businesses and municipalities to help them understand we were open for business, and we kicked off a project to re-tool our business accounts to become more sensitive to small-business needs. We also implemented Excess Share Insurance to allow businesses to feel even more comfortable with bringing their funds to the credit union.
March brought new updates to our ‘4.8 out of 5-star’ mobile app, and electronic receipts to our teller lines.
This spring, we launched the new business account structure and just last month we changed our bylaws so anyone in the City of St. Louis and the eight counties around it can join our credit union with just $1 in their savings account!
And this month Jennifer Walters, our new Mortgage Loan Officer is launching her affiliation with the (drumroll please, as it isn’t even on our Marketing materials yet) Homes for Heroes® Program! This program provides significant Hero Rewards® savings when a hero buys, sells or refinances a home with an affiliated real estate and lending specialists. Homes for Heroes is dedicated to serving and giving back to Firefighters, Law Enforcement, Military (Active, Reserves and Veterans), Healthcare Workers, EMS and Teachers when you buy or refinance a home.
What does this mean for Electro Savings Credit Union? We’re growing membership at a 6% clip; deposits are growing at nearly the same rate and loans are flying out the doors! All from listening to our members and our Electro Family.
Listen more than you speak, and hear what the world has to say… even if it isn’t what you wished you were going to hear. It helps you grow in the right direction personally and professionally! Lesson learned. Again!