Upward, UCCU Illustrate the Power of Succession Planning
Boutique credit unions can avoid merger with strategy
Your Marketing Co.
As the NCUA is on the verge of issuing a final rule on succession planning, some credit unions have been ahead of the game by working strategically to develop succession plans for top executives as well as volunteers. The $100 million Upward Credit Union and $125.5 million United Community Credit Union have ensured their resiliency by planning for CEO and board retirements well in advance.
Linda White, retiring CEO of Upward CU of 24 years, began planning for her retirement and successor about 5 years ago. She has worked at the credit union for a total of 37 years. Upward CU engaged Your Marketing Co. partner Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates and heeded a timeline from CEO Susan Mitchell. “Sue’s been a godsend!”
White continued, “Knowing I had someone ready, willing and able to succeed me made me feel confident in recommending Jason [Mertz-Prickett, incoming CEO and current VP of Operations] to the board.”
Mertz-Prickett added, “For boutique credit unions, it’s important we survive. It’s sad when I pick up the credit union magazines and see all the mergers taking place. We really do make a difference, and it’s critical that we maintain our uniqueness.”
Although he’s not nearing retirement age, United Community CU CEO Mark Dietrich recognized the need for not only CEO succession planning, but also for his board members, so they made it part of their strategic planning with Your Marketing Co. CEO Bo McDonald. After developing a governance committee, outlining existing board members’ backgrounds and developing and distributing a new volunteer application, the credit union could strategically pursue the gaps it had among its volunteers.
United Community CU followed the process and found Michelle Miller, a financial adviser who was elected to the board earlier this year. “A couple of board members who’ve been around for a long time have offered to help me understand the role, and they aren’t worried that I worked in banks for 12 years!” Miller added that she really liked the people at United Community CU that she’d engaged with, which was a real draw for her to run for a board seat. She’s also served on multiple local boards, including Kiwanis and United Way, which gave her a well-rounded background to serve the credit union and represent its members.
“So many boutique credit unions with tremendous potential are merging due to failing their members in succession planning,” Your Marketing Co. CEO Bo McDonald said. “The transition between Linda and Jason at Upward Credit Union has been an impressive collaboration at the executive level, while the board at UCCU has exemplified the responsibility credit unions have to their members at the board level. Strategic succession planning is part of providing excellent member service now and into the future.”