We recently sat down with REGIONAL federal credit union CEO Jill Banning to talk about all things REGIONAL, the difference between credit unions and banks, and REGIONAL's connection to the community.
What is the difference between a bank and a credit union?
Banks are for-profit organizations and their job is to earn money so that it can go back to the shareholders. They are governed by a paid board of directors who determine which way the bank is going to go.
Credit unions are totally different, we’re a not-for-profit organization, a cooperative organization. We are ran and governed by a non paid volunteer board of directors and the decisions that they make are for the good of the organization and for the good of the others that belong. There is no one that the profits are floating down to a certain group it goes out to an entire organization.
So someone who comes and joins a credit union, they are now a member, and they have a voice to be heard of how the organization is going to be ran- the products, the services, the policies, they get a voice in that by voting for the board of directors. They also have a voice on a day to day basis, if something’s wrong or they have a concern, sometimes a complaint, they can go ahead and voice that and that information always gets filtered directly to me.
The base structure, the volunteerism, you are a member, you have a voice, you get to help direct, those are the base differences between a bank and a credit union. REGIONAL members can go nation wide to other credit union branches and walk in the door and have a transaction processed just as if they were standing in our Valparaiso lobby.
Why is community involvement important?
That’s where our members are, again it’s a membership cooperative and everyone wants their community to be better and to grow better. REGIONAL has some core values of trust, of service, of compassion, community education, and a lot of organizations have those types of core values but REGIONAL believes in actually living those core values, they’re not just words.
So for us to be able to go in and have our staff members our team members volunteer at a Habitat for Humanity program or Hammond Reads, a reading literacy program, or Kiwanis clubs, that takes those visions and words and actually puts life into them.
That’s what our organization is all about.
How do you live the service culture?
Service is so important to our organization and I personally can’t believe you can ask your team to go out and provide great service if you’re not doing it yourself. So I believe it starts with our board of directors and obviously they’re doing that because they’re volunteering their time, they’re not getting paid to help run this organization and it filters down to me, all the way down.
So if there is a member who has a question, if there’s a solution that can’t be found, it does come to me and I do have the ability to help resolve and answer that question. I provide the service, I get it done, the team knows it, the team knows they can count on me, hopefully the members know they can count on me, and it just filters down.
The managers we have are in the offices, they’re in the community to make a difference, and we want the organization, community, and members to know that.
What is one of your newest developments at REGIONAL federal credit union?
Credit unions don’t always offer identical services as banks but one of the items that banks have been doing for a while that REGIONAL is adding is our business loaning package and that’s being launched in the next couple months.
Our goal is to help traditional small businesses. We didn’t have that product before and we’re really exciting about getting that started.
Who can benefit from REGIONAL federal credit union’s services?
REGIONAL’s business loaning is going to be a lot different than that of local banks in that we are looking to service those small businesses. We’re talking about loaning somebody $30,000 or $40,000 for a car. We’re not looking for the 35 million dollar office buildings.
We want people who are in the area right now who need help getting their business started. Those are the people that REGIONAL’s going to be able to help.