How Veteran CEO Drove Growth At APCO Employees CU

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-After 38 years as CEO, Larry D. Morgan has retired as CEO of APCO Employees Credit Union. During his tenure Morgan oversaw tremendous growth, from $3 million in assets to more than $2 billion, and from 3,200 members to more than 61,000.

One hallmark of Morgan's career has been a focus on managing operating expenses, a proficiency it used to drive growth. Morgan was just the second CEO of the CU since it was founded in 1953. He followed a famous name in the job — Louise Herring — but it was not the Louise Herring the CU pioneer who chartered so many credit unions, just another woman in credit unions who happened to share her name.

Below, Mr. Morgan shares some parting thoughts:

CUJ: How did you come to be involved in credit unions?
Morgan: I was an Auburn grad with an accounting degree. I took a job with the Alabama Credit Union League as an auditor doing supervisory committee audits. APCO Employees CU was one of our contracts, and I saw a lot of potential and applied for the job when Mrs. Herring decided to retire. Our Mrs. Herring was a dedicated credit union person, too.

CUJ: During your career you oversaw tremendous growth at APCO Employees CU. What drove that growth, and what lessons were learned about managing growth?
Morgan: Our dividend rates drove the growth. Our efficient operation allowed us to pay above-market rates, which attracts deposits.

CUJ: What advice would you have for a new CEO taking over a credit union of any size today?
Morgan: Be ready to come to work early and to stay late. Don't be afraid to deal with member problems even if they seem petty, as keeping your members happy is job one.

CUJ: What are your views on the future of credit unions in the U.S.?
Morgan: Positive, although we do need interest rates to rise. The zero percent Fed funds rate makes it difficult to earn a decent spread in order to benefit our members. With low rates and the NCUA assessments it is very difficult to build capital. Our corporate credit union (Corporate America, of which he is chairman) is stable and growing and it is hard for me to understand how the NCUA allowed the large corporates to take so much interest rate risk. The NCUA only seems concerned with interest rate risk, which is what we in banking understand and manage the best.

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