"Show Me" Growth In Real Estate, Membership, And Fee Income

CU Community Credit Union doesn’t rely on what’s worked in the past to guarantee success in the future.


Judy Hadsall is the president and CEO of CU Community Credit Union ($68.1M). In Springfield, MO, where the credit union is headquartered, the economy is based on an array of industries (healthcare, manufacturing, retail, education, tourism), and its economic influence reaches into surrounding counties. Here, Hadsall speaks with CreditUnions.com about how the credit union is carving out its financial footprint and "getting scrappy" with its outreach.

CU Community’s real estate portfolio has grown 11%. How did you identify the opportunity in mortgages in your market?
Loan growth has slowed, and we’re finding that we can’t rely on what worked in the past to work for us in the future. The economic downturn made it more difficult for people to get into their first home. We decided to pursue first mortgages because these are often younger credit union members who need a little bit of assistance figuring out how the loan process works. We are doing some targeted marketing, but we also have feet on the street. Our staff is out networking and knows the community.

CU Community RE Growth
Click on graph to view larger size. |  Source: Callahan & Associates' Peer-to-Peer

Once you’ve got new members through the door, how are you making sure they’re using the credit union’s products and services?
We are working diligently to foster a stronger sales culture at CU Community. Among credit unions, “sales” is often a dirty word. In reality, our form of selling is simply informing and educating our members about the ways we can help them achieve their financial goals, whether it’s through affordable mortgages or auto loans, savings tools, or convenient eServices. Arming members with the right information and tools gives them the chance to make better decisions. 

CU Community Key Metrics

Your fee income is up 26%. How did you achieve that?
We have worked hard to get our members to embrace CU Community debit card and credit cards as their cards of choice, encouraging the use of signature-based transactions. Moving forward, we are developing programs to reward POS behavior that benefits the credit union and its members. Our fees are lower than the banks and many of our credit union competitors.  We hope to remain that way and are assessing our transactions to ensure we can keep everything as streamlined and cost-efficient as possible.

CU Community Fee Income
Click on graph to view larger size. |  Source: Callahan & Associates' Peer-to-Peer

As you move into the fall and 2012 what do want to accomplish?
First, we need to solidify the relationships we have with our existing membership and employee groups, consistently reminding them about our products and services. Second, CU Community is an undiscovered gem within the community. [There are 13 credit unions and more than two dozen banks either headquartered or with branches in Springfield.]

Since becoming community chartered in 2005, we haven’t done a major branding and advertising campaign to the greater community. We plan to change that in 2012. Getting out there with creative campaigns and a unique branding proposition has become more important than ever before. Our potential members are bombarded with financial messaging, so we are getting scrappy with our outreach. For example, we have more than 30 colleges and universities in the Springfield market. Last week we launched a new promotion called “Tough Decisions.” Students at on-campus events will have a choice between a ridiculous free item, such as a mullet wig, or the potential of winning $100. The thought behind it is that the absurdity will grab their attention and the choice between the two is simple. The answer is easy, and so is saving money with CU Community.

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the past few years?
You cannot pull back in times of economic recession. We must be willing to invest in new products and services that will help us become and remain the most important financial institution to our members.

Tell me what you consider to be best practices at CU Community.
The recent financial crisis really highlighted the relationships we have with our members. Many people have hit a rough patch — either through a job loss, skyrocketing medical bills, or divorce — and it has become critical that we stay in tune with our members. When someone is delinquent with a loan payment or struggles with overdrafts, it’s a sign we need to find out what’s going on. A simple phone call can do that, but sometimes it also takes a deeper dive. Often, we are able to help them assess their financial situation and get them on the road to recovery. This not only helps the member, it also helps the credit union mitigate potential losses.  




Aug. 29, 2011


  • Another great job, Rebecca in describing even at a high level the methods and practices of this credit union to win in losing times. For a credit union founded in 2005, they are a success story - but they are consistent in their view of the member and taking care of their financial needs. I'd like to be a fly on the wall at their planning sessions and see how they interact and plan to succeed.