How do we grow loans? When’s the best time to plan for the future? How do we go beyond simply making money? These questions are on the minds of every credit union leader, but the answers aren’t easy to find.
 
I recently interviewed Tonia Clark, CEO of Allied Federal Credit Union, to discover some of these answers.
 
Allied FCU serves residents of Arlington, Mansfield, Pantego and Dalworthington Gardens, Texas. After a rough year in 2021, Allied experienced explosive loan growth and positive press in 2022.
 
Here’s what Clark had to say about Allied’s success this year.
 

Refine Employee Roles to Jumpstart Loan Growth

 
Before this year, Allied found themselves in a tough spot.
 
“We were below 7% net worth because we didn’t make enough money – we didn’t have enough loans,” Clark said. She realized it was time for drastic change if Allied was going to achieve its goals.
 
“We made the tough decision to change how we did loans,” Clark said. Specifically, Allied developed some employees into loan specialists known as Day One employees.
 
“Day One employees do loans, they’re experts. Employees are earning incentives too – one employee earned $2,000 in incentives for generating loans.”
 
Choosing to have staff completely dedicated to loan growth paid off. Allied saw 13% loan growth, a complete reversal of fortunes.
 
“The change we made in the organization has completely turned around loans. Every month since the change has seen an increase in originations.”
 

Learn Constantly and Plan Frequently

 
Constant learning enables Clark to think of solutions to problems like loan growth. And in a credit union world where the C-suite wears many hats, learning time must be very intentional.
 
“You can learn a lot from big credit unions and little credit unions. I get to work at seven, which gives me two hours just to think and gives me time to read trade journals. It’s important to be a lifelong learner and develop yourself. I constantly read or listen to books.”
 
Beyond personal learning, Clark told me the whole Allied staff is always planning and developing. One of their strategic goals, called “The Allied Experience,” is a prime example.
 
According to Clark, The Allied Experience means, “Each month, we choose a process and journey map it to discover pain points for members and staff.” She also mentioned a “very young executive team bringing new ideas to the table” aids in the credit union’s growth.
 

Go Beyond the Balance Sheet

 
Despite their recent financial success, what mattered most to Clark wasn’t loan growth. It was community service.
 
She previously believed running a series of student branches would be the most rewarding part of her career, but Allied’s Casual for a Cause program changed that belief.
 
“Casual for a Cause is really taking off – it may not benefit the credit union financially but it has solved multiple issues. Employees get to dress casual (fixing dress code problems) and make donations to causes. The causes have to benefit the communities we serve, and the employees choose them.”
 
One Allied Casual for a Cause event appeared in a recent CU Today article – their “Great Gas Giveaway.” During this event, Allied employees handed out $15 gas cards to random gas station customers in Arlington and Mansfield.
 
Overall, Clark believes Allied has a bright future. “We’re really starting to grow and can support growth financially.”
 
To learn more about Allied FCU, visit their website.
 
And if you need help planning your own credit union’s future success, our On The Mark Strategies strategic planning facilitators have your back. It’s not too late – sign up for a strategic planning session today!

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