Financial Advisor Honored For Work On CU Board
LIVE OAK, Texas-Frederick Walters has watched Randolph Brooks FCU grow from a six-branch operation to 35 today, both as a member of 44 years and as a director for the last 23. His service was recently recognized by NAFCU, receiving the trade association's Volunteer of the Year award for credit unions above $150 million in assets. Walters spoke with Credit Union Journal about winning the award, his time on the RBFCU board, and growth at the CU.
Credit Union Journal: How did you find out that you had won, and what was your reaction at the time?
Walters: First, I did not know I was nominated, and I found out when CEO Randy Smith received an official announcement, and then I was notified by his office. I was extremely surprised and honored.
CUJ: Why do you think you won?
Walters: All I can do on is look at the criteria outlined in the nomination form: leadership, dedication to representation of the credit union members' interests, commitment to the development of professionalism, expertise and service, and participation in credit union and community activities.
CUJ: What is your professional background?
Walters: This is the first, and only, board of directors I have served on. I spent 30 years with the Principal Financial Group as a senior financial advisor and served 36 years active duty in the Army Air Force and the US Air Force in management positions.
CUJ: During your tenure on the RBFCU board, how important has growth been to the credit union?
Walters: Our credit union board has been supportive and proactive when it comes to growth. When I joined the board, we had six branches, all located in the San Antonio area. Today, we have 35 branches throughout south central Texas with additional locations in development. The board has approved decisions for expansion-two successful mergers, one that brought us into the growing Austin market and another that allowed us to serve the citizens of Gonzales.
CUJ: What have been keys to RBFCU's growth?
Walters: The credit union has made wise and responsible choices in expansion, development, services, and fees-and these decisions have led to deposit growth from $260 million in the late '80s to more than $3.3 billion today. In the same time span, total assets have grown from around $293 million to more than $4 billion.
We believe that we continue to grow because our board, executive team, and employees are dedicated to sound lending principles, innovative products, and member-focused service.
CUJ: The credit union has even grown well during the recession. To what do you attribute that success?
Walters: As the economy has been weakened by the decisions of larger financial institutions, RBFCU has maintained a positive return on assets and has grown its membership because we continued to serve members' best interests.
The positive word-of-mouth spread and our credit union experienced above-average membership increases-from 238,000 in 2005 to 325,000-plus today.
Education has played a role, as well. We encourage in-house and professional training for staff and volunteers. We invest substantial resources in training and education, and during this economic downturn, we have invested even more in training.
CUJ: What is your philosophy on being an effective board member?
Walters: Ensure that our credit union is staffed with talented people in all areas and then get out of the way. The board concentrates on broad policy issues.