New Management Team, 2 Years Of 'Basics' Lead To Member Bonus

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Two years after a new management team took a back-to-the-basics approach at Tyndall FCU, members got to see one of their early rewards when $3.3-million was paid out during the holidays.

Tyndall Federal gave the rebate back to members in bonus dividends and loan interest rebates. Checks were mailed to members with payments ranging from $100 to $3,000, prompting many members to call the credit union with a simple question, Tyndall FCU President Jim Warren related to The Credit Union Journal: "Do I get to keep this?"

Warren came from the Houston market to take the helm of Tyndall Federal two years ago and spent most of his first 45 days in charge just listening and watching. Then he started asking questions: Do we need this much overtime? Why are we doing it this way?

In 2004, Tyndall Federal's performance was a mix of good and bad and needed to do more with less to serve its 96,574 members, Warren said. While it had high foot traffic due to an 80% penetration rate for checking accounts, the $744-million CU didn't have the staff to adequately generate auto loan volume and wasn't utilizing IT properly. Poor employee scheduling resulted in $35,000 in overtime pay every two weeks and branches not fully trained in newer teller software had reverted to using older, outdated software to get the job done. ACH record keeping was done by hand and took up most of the time of one employee. In fact, Tyndall FCU simply wasn't operating well, Warren said.

"There was just a lot of waste. We've got a long way to go," he said.

After two years on the job, Warren and company have reduced employees through attrition to 310 from 390, planned the launch of an online auto lending option, trained all of its tellers to be proficient on Summit Teller Advantage software, helped boost net income 188%, decrease loan delinquencies by 73%, and grow the loan portfolio by $127-million.

"It wasn't brain surgery. It was sticking to basics," Warren said.

Warren said most of the credit goes to his new management team, whom he called "the best in the industry" with an average of 20 years experience in CUs and finance. Besides Warren, the management team includes:

* Steve Ravin-the CFO joined last year and brought 25 years of experience as EVP of Charter Oak FCU in Connecticut, and is also a CPA and former board member of Constitution State Corporate CU.

* Theodore E. Zangwill-the COO came to Tyndall FCU in April 2005 with the unique distinction of having been the CEO of both a credit union and a bank. He also worked as SVP of lending for Space Coast CU in Florida.

* Debbi Dial-the CIO worked in technology at Kitsap Community FCU in Washington and project management with American Management Systems, Inc.

Warren said his managers have integrity, experience and are good communicators that can get through to employees skeptical or fearful of change. "We have four different ways of doing things successfully," he said.

When she joined 14 months ago, Dial said Tyndall FCU already had "excellent" hardware and software but the technology hadn't been implemented well or completely. Of the CU's 10 branches, none were using Teller Advantage fully and some had even stuck with an older version. Dial instituted a technology "re-implementation", created standard procedures and enacted them branch by branch. Another fix to the Tyndall system was automating how ACH transfers were routed to member accounts, instead of manually. This one act saved eight hours of work for one employee alone. "We gave her back one full day," Dial said.

Dial said the credit union had actually been buying up-to-date software and technology but wasn't putting them into operation. Dial said Tyndall FCU had the parts in place but is now assembling them into a smooth-running machine. "Those decisions cost us money," she said.

Dial said 2005-06 will be years of solidifying the Tyndall FCU base of operations, ensuring staff is operating well and increasing efficiency in all areas. Both Warren and Dial said 2005 was a good and exciting year for employees and management and are setting the stage for 2007 to be Tyndall FCU's breakout year. Dial said employees can see the changes and are now pulling together for the greater good of the credit union and its members. "That's part of what credit unions are all about," Dial said.

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