Helping to 'Paint a Picture' for Lawmakers, Media

DALLAS-Texas Health Resources CU CEO Suzanne Chism believes small credit unions help paint a picture for those outside of CU circles that may help turn the tide in a legislative battle with banks.

Credit Union Journal: In which areas does your CU perform particularly well?
Chism: The quality of the portfolio and the efficiency and promptness of our collections. Our charge-offs were up last year compared to previous years, but our delinquency was only 0.57. Given what we were going through with the economy and the (corporate) assessments, we held our own. We are happy to be able to say that, and it was because we have strong enough capital. At year-end we were about 84% loaned out.

CUJ: How do you do so well?
Chism: We have multiple relationships with our members. A lot of that is historical and from word of mouth. We have quite a bit of longevity on the staff. Our shortest-tenured person is two years, and some have been here as long as 11 years. I've been CEO 30 years, and within the sponsor company for 37 years. I did three years on the board before I became CEO. It also helps that so many people, including Ariana Huffington, Suze Orman and several legislators have said if you are not happy with your bank, go to a credit union. If credit unions do not take advantage of this, they are not paying attention. We have never gotten so much free publicity in our lives.

CUJ: Are you proof small CUs don't have to merge to survive?
Chism: I certainly hope so. I think we need to get back to helping small credit unions. I have done mergers in the past, but it was many years ago and it involved very small credit unions with volunteer staffs who got overwhelmed by compliance requirements and looked to get out. If small credit unions do have to merge, instead of being swallowed up by a large credit union they should try to pair with a credit union of like size with like member service.