Management

 Tell Members Their Money Is Safe

In the heat of the banking crisis, this CEO was a voice of reassurance.

September 27, 2011
KEYWORDS board , news , safe
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Through the years, Robertson also has been an active volunteer within the credit union movement and in the community. He served on and participated in:

  • CUNA’s board of directors and various committees, including the examination and supervision subcommittee;
  • CUNA’s regulatory and insurance structure commission;
  • The Washington Credit Union League’s board, including a term as chair and on various committees; and
  • The league’s “Hike the Hill” events.

John Annaloro, president/CEO of the Northwest Credit Union Association, says Robertson is a true CU Hero, and a “good, respected leader.” And the league’s announcement of Robertson’s retirement describes him as an advocate for credit unions on Capitol Hill.

“I never liked politics,” admits Robertson. “I still don’t. But it was necessary.” Robertson was the youngest member of the league board when he was elected in 1981 and the only one who wasn’t a CEO at the time. He was re-elected four times.

His enthusiasm for credit unions and their mission spills over into his involvement in state and local community activities. Robertson still lives in Shelton with Peggy, his wife of 36 years.

Shelton is a logging community of about 8,000 residents, mostly blue-collar. Robertson says it’s “the perfect setting for a credit union.” Our Community originally was chartered to serve employees of Simpson Logging Co., but expanded several times to its current state charter.

Robertson’s community involvement was one of the main reasons Cheryl Stewart, Our Community’s vice president of policy and regulatory compliance, nominated him to be a CU Hero. A few of the community activities he’s spearheaded include:

  • A junior golf tournament, organized 20 years ago, for kids ages 8 to 17;
  • Two $1,000 annual college scholarships for local high-school graduates; and
  • A recent effort to save a local community skate park. Robertson attended city park commission meetings and helped save the park.

His letters to community members during the economic crisis were especially impressive to Stewart. “When the economy was falling apart and everyone was fearful that all they had worked so hard to save would be lost, Joe reassured them that their money was safe and their credit union was solid, and gave them a brief explanation of the crisis.

“The letter was honest and upfront,” Stewart adds, “and even today members comment about how needed those letters were. When the only news delivered on TV was doom and gloom, the only reassurance they received was from the CEO of their credit union. It was a brave and right thing to do.”

An Approachable Leader

Joe Robertson, who recently retired from Our Community Credit Union in Shelton, Wash., had an open-door policy with all employees. “If you do this consistently, word gets around that you’re approachable.”

The credit union’s basic core values echo this theme:

  • Provide personal, professional, caring treatment to every member, every time;
  • Give members choices;
  • Be accurate; and
  • Find solutions to members’ financial needs.

“Life is difficult; people struggle,” he says. “We want members to walk out the door feeling like the credit union cares.”

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