“Go to work.”
That’s Wayne Vann’s nonsense-free approach to running a credit union during times of financial distress. The president/CEO of $960 million asset Navy Army Credit Union, Corpus Christi, Texas, says despite the recession, there still are many members borrowing and depositing money.
“You can’t fold up your tent every time someone tells you the economy is horrible,” he says. “You have to go to work and get your people geared up. You’ll make some mistakes and have some chargeoffs. You’ll have lower quality come to you. This doesn’t mean they’re bad people or they won’t repay you. It means you’ll have to look at these members more closely.”
Vann says financial struggles are nothing new to Corpus Christi—an area with few high-tech employers or heavy manufacturing, where the median annual income is around $30,000.
Vann shares his approach to serving members during times of financial distress.
CU Mag: What economic challenges are facing your members and your CU?
Vann: South Texas is a predominately blue collar area that’s 65% Hispanic; mostly second- and third-generation families. We have no high-end, high-tech jobs and no heavy manufacturing, so the median income is in the low to mid $30,000 range. Our average credit score is something south of 600.
But this is an environment we operate in all the time; it’s not because of recessionary factors. A common comment around here is that it’s hard to tell when Corpus Christi is not in a recession.
But having said that, we have a lot of good, solid people and families here. They just, traditionally, don’t always take care of their retail credit, and they don’t have a lot of disposable income.
They use their income for household necessities so bills may get pushed aside. When you have that kind of median income it doesn’t take too many bumps in the road before your paycheck goes to other factors.
Next: Balancing risk and service