CUES Podcast
CUES Podcast
Apr 14, 2020
CUES Podcast 90: Safety and Service Foremost in F&A FCU’s Proactive Pandemic Response—An Interview With Tim Green
Play • 32 min

When Tim Green first heard—back in January—the news about the spread of COVID-19 overseas, he decided to lead his credit union to prepare for a scenario in which the disease would shut down the whole county where his credit union is located. 

He says he thought at the time that if the situation turned out to be less dire, his team would still benefit from the exercise. When Los Angeles County, California, did in fact close down, Tim and his team at $1.8 billion F&A Federal Credit Union in Monterey Park were more ready than most businesses.

Having antennae out to market signals and being open to responding to them is a hallmark of great leadership. And yet Green is most humble in this show. CEO for just about 13 months, he is grateful to his board for their support of this initiative. He’s grateful to other financial institutions for the ideas he “stole” from them and adapted to best suit his credit union. 

Green explains in the show that one of the first things he started working on when he joined the credit union was operational readiness—determining what was effective and what wasn’t in terms of people, systems and processes. A key thing he found was that “we were very adept at disaster recovery, but what also became pretty apparent was that our business continuity planning was not where we wanted it to be.”

In January, when the focus narrowed to preparing for the closure scenario, “we really went through it in a sequential way. We ordered a bunch of equipment. … The processes were tested. We tested in our training environment, then we moved people remotely. By the time we got to the first week in March, we were really ready to handle this and operate 90% of the core credit union functions remotely. 

“Once we had operational readiness,” he continues, “… the first thing we needed to do was think, ‘How are we doing to take care of our members?’” Among other programs, the CU offers members financially affected by COVID-19 enhanced skip-a-pay and a short-term assistance loan.

A third leg of the stool was employees. “We were able to move about 75% of our back-office staff out of the building (the CU has two branches) and about 70%” of all staff, he explains. “We gave everybody on the team below vice president a free week of PTO … and immediately the goodwill started to flow back from our employees." 

The CU closed its headquarters branch to walk-in traffic to better protect staff. The other branch has a bandit barrier between staff and members. The credit union also is paying branch workers a short-term 30% raise and catering lunch daily, so staff don’t have to leave the building to pick up food.

“Because we were ready to serve operationally, we were then able to really reach out and provide tangible benefit to our membership, simultaneously demonstrating a commitment to our employees that had carried us through thus far.”

The show also gets into:

  • How Green’s risk management background informed his credit union’s response
  • The thing that has worked best for F&A FCU in its pandemic response 
  • How F&A FCU’s response reflected its values--what its leadership thought was the right thing to do
  • What F&A FCU might do next in its pandemic response effort
  • Green’s concerns about the economic recovery and helping members through that 
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