Inspire FCU CEO: Our Story Shows There Is a Path for Growth

Move beyond fear for relevance and growth!

Your Marketing Co.

When Jim Merrill arrived as CEO of Inspire Federal Credit Union in July 2014, the credit union was $83 million in assets with $50 million in loans outstanding. The board was determining whether it should merge or take a chance to find a leader to help the credit union grow and remain relevant. The board chose the latter.

Today Inspire FCU stands at $265 million in assets and more than $200 million in loans outstanding. All the growth has been achieved strategically and organically without the boost of any merger. 

“We hear so many times how difficult it is for small- to mid-sized credit unions to grow,” Merrill said. “Our story tells all the similarly sized credit unions that there is a path.” He added that it requires taking on a little bit of risk, a lot of hard work and being able to make tough decisions, things that some have not been willing to do.

“Fear of failure can bring people to a fight or flight moment. Inspire chose to fight,” Your Marketing Co. CEO Bo McDonald observed. “That’s what makes the credit union, the board and Jim and his team true leaders.”

Merrill explained that it’s critical to have the right team in place, build a culture that emphasizes employee buy-in and community, and truly understand the market your credit union is attempting to serve.

“We had a very vanilla portfolio,” Merrill said. “We didn’t have the products and services that positioned us for growth nor to serve our community.” To hone Inspire FCU’s member focus, the credit union expanded its product offerings and added staff in the community, while making the strategic decision to outsource many of the credit union’s back-office operations and processes, as well as IT, the call center and marketing.

Leveraging partners who can perform certain elements of the business better than the internal team is critical for small- to mid-sized credit unions, he added, which is why Inspire FCU reached out to Your Marketing Co.

Brian Phillips, Inspire FCU Chief Revenue Officer, said the credit union formerly used Your Marketing Co., tried a different agency that was not as versed in credit unions and brought marketing in-house, but now Inspire FCU is back because of YMC’s creative and strategic thinking, knowledge of credit unions and the value the credit union marketing agency provides.

“Your Marketing Co. can work by our side; they’re not just order takers,” Phillips said. “We have excellent strategic discussions, which translate to better execution and results.”

Merrill emphasized, “We never look for vendors. We look for partners. Vendors cause headaches while partners help you grow because you have a vested interest in each other.”

Your Marketing Co., is a full-service strategic planning, branding and marketing firm serving credit unions that are not content with the status quo. Since 2008, YMC has helped dozens of credit unions grow their potential through strategy, execution and accountability. And we give a damn!