The timing for Alan Althouse was perfect when he became president and CEO of TruWest Credit Union three years ago.
“The Great Recession left consumers very skeptical of big banks and has created a great opportunity for member-owned cooperatives, such as TruWest Credit Union, to gain market share,” Althouse says.
Tempe-based TruWest now has more than 88,000 members and assets totaling more than $1 billion. Az Business talked with Althouse about what we can look for in 2019 and beyond.
Az Business: How has TruWest Credit Union been able to grow like it has?
We are completely focused on our mission as a member-owned financial cooperative: being someone our members trust to provide sound financial advice and value. We have grown by listening to our members and provided what they need- uncompromising service, value unavailable elsewhere and a focus on what they need to be financially successful. Our recent No. 1 ranking in Arizona by Callahan & Associates on “Return of the Member” is an example of our success. This ranking recognized our great rates and low fees, and the resulting strong growth we experienced in loans, deposits, and in services like financial planning.
AB: How has technology impacted credit unions?
AA: Technology is rewriting how financial products and services are being delivered. Recognizing this ,we emphasized innovation in our mobile app, growing from 17,000 mobile app users to over 40,000 in 2-plus years. We have also added an e-branch to our physical branch system and it has grown in just over two years to 20,000 members strong.
AB: What trend should we watch in 2019?
AA: Consumer expectations are rising, driven by innovators like Amazon.com. Consumers trust their credit union much more than big banks, but to continue to earn and keep that trust we need to remain relevant in a world of rapid technological innovation. Technology is saving consumers time and money, and credit unions need to be at the vanguard of these advances. In 2019 we will review all of our processes, looking for ways to save member and staff time, and will make additional investments in technology, such as artificial intelligence.
AB: What are your goals for TruWest Credit Union?
AA: Our goal is to be the recognized leader in providing great rates, superior service and a culture of caring – caring for our members, our employees, and our community. In the coming years, we will fundamentally change how products and services are delivered – becoming faster, easier to use, and at a lower cost. Today we do a lot in the community and to assist those of modest means, but in the coming years, we will take a quantum leap forward in returning resources back to our community.
AB: What gives you the most pride?
AA: We have made major changes to the culture of TruWest Credit Union, cutting our employee turnover in half – from levels typical in the industry to now becoming an industry leader. TruWest makes an important difference in the lives of our members and I want our staff to be passionate about that mission. The ongoing goal is for our employees to feel excited about coming to work each day as they work in a supportive environment where they are growing professionally. We are doing our job as leaders when our employees go home each day with a feeling of excitement about what they have accomplished.