New Development In How Folks See A 'CU'

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OROVILLE, Calif.-In her 16 years running the Oroville branch of Butte FCU, Betty Vance has never seen greater consumer understanding of the credit union difference as she does today.

The recession has made it easier to talk about the CU concept in this small town of 14,000. "I love talking about credit unions, and I get the opportunity to do it more now," noted Vance, saying consumers often stop in complaining about bank fees. "I tell them the banks are in business to make money. Then I tell them that members are owners of the credit union and that earnings go back to the membership through higher dividends and lower loans."

That message over the years has helped Vance's branch triple in size to the 12,000 people it serves today. With that growth Vance's role as branch manager has evolved, and not all for the good, she'll tell you. When Vance began her branch manager career she was one of two people in the branch. "I love working with people, but I must admit a lot of my direct interaction with members has gone away. When times were simpler I used to know all of my members' names and most of their ID numbers."

Now Vance handles more backoffice operations, along with more phone calls from members after BFCU, a $35-million CDCU, to close two of its five locations.

The advice Vance gives staffers hoping to someday become a branch manager is to always serve the member to the best of their ability, remain "flexible," and adapt to change. She admits the latter is being tested with the increased emphasis on compliance. "I actually find the regulatory changes enjoyable," Vance said, admitting that it takes extra work to stay on top of the new rules. "But I learn something new all the time." That intrigues me."

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