Our team always enjoys teaching our fall classes with lenders. It is also a good time to learn more of what is happening in various markets. This helps us to be more relevant in the various areas where we help credit unions.
One theme I have noticed, is that there are many new projects and growth in the communities that are served by the CUs that we serve. Now some CUs are involved in many new projects that create economic growth, jobs, and wealth for their area. Sometimes, the CUs we work with seem to be content to sit on the sidelines and allow the economic growth to be funded by other institutions. They are happy to received whatever person comes in to their office and works to serve that member well.
A lender who follows this strategy will usually be provided the leftovers as other banks will get the main business opportunities for their market. But that is not what CUs are created for. We are not built to be on the sidelines, we are built to serve our membership and grow our membership in ways that help our community grow.
Successful lenders will not only work on the member in front of them, but they will have a strategy to build future business by developing long-term relationships. Eventually, these will result in new members and new business opportunities for your CU.
Patience is a key virtue to have here. One of the largest relationships I built took five years of calling and relationship building before I was able to land the client. Now every lender does need the shorter term customers who will come to you in the near future. But it is also important to have a strategic calling plan to develop relationships that may not bear fruit for one, three, or even five years or longer.
Developing an expertise is also key to your business strategy. One CU that I have worked with has a focus on medical professionals. They want to not only have the personal accounts, but also retirement funds and business lending needs as well. Another one, has a focus on small manufacturing firms and serving needs they have. Within your market area, there are smaller sub-markets that you can gain an expertise in and become known for.
This strategy may require that you develop friendships with your target audience and may need to even hit some networking events that center around the target group. Some of these groups may also become good pipelines of business for you. In my career, I have built deep relationships with commercial Realtors, medical professionals in the town I was located, and land Realtors. These have provided large amounts of loans and deposits over the year.
Some CUs will also shy away from projects because they are too large and complicated. That is what we are here for. We help with the complicated and as long as you can keep only 10% of the loan on your balance sheet, it is not too large.
My encouragement here is that you begin to create your own destiny in your CU. Work on identifying the businesses in your community and determine what is your target audience. Network with various industry or trade groups that can introduce you to other new sources of desirable business members. Create your own “hunting list” of those in your communities that you want to bring in your membership. Be patient in building the relationships with them. You can build your destiny, or just take what comes to you.