After 30 years at the helm, Pam Huber is set to retire from Lansing, Mich.-based Farm Bureau Family Credit Union later this year.
The credit union is currently seeking out a successor, and Huber told CU Journal the $18 million-asset credit union is well-poised for growth under new leadership.
“There are about 200,000 [Michigan Farm Bureau] members in the state…and for the first time in many years we have one of the VPs of MFB on our board, so that has created some nice potential situations for growth,” she said.
Unlike many credit unions that have converted to community fields of membership, Farm Bureau Family is still primarily SEG-based and prefers it that way.
“We like our independence, we have a distinct brand and we’ve got a lot of room for growth,” declared Huber.
While the credit union’s asset size has grown from $3.5 million when Huber became CEO to more than $18 million today, membership figures are largely unchanged – about 1,500 then and a hair under 1,700 today. With newfound access to those 200,000 Michigan Farm Bureau members, however, Huber said she is confident her successor will be able to kick those numbers up significantly.
The credit union saw a net income of more than $55,000 last year, down from earnings of more than $97,000 in 2016
Huber noted that the movement has changed significantly since she entered it, pointing out that while in the past many credit unions would gladly share all sorts of information and strategies, today much of that data is proprietary and isn't likely to be shared.
“I’m not saying [the spirit of collaboration] isn’t there anymore, but the competition is much fiercer and it’s a less friendly environment,” she said.
However, one of the biggest boons, she said, has been technology – especially for a small credit union like hers.
“We’re a small credit union, but we’ve got a call center, we do mobile deposit, we have a mobile app, bill payer, anything we can turn on,” she said. “These aren’t revolutionary products, but for a credit union of our size to be able to offer that full range of products and services that larger credit unions do has been terrific." She credited working with data-processing CUSO CU*Answers for enabling Farm Bureau Family to do this.
One of the next steps for whoever takes the helm, she said, will likely be working with a CUSO to add more agriculture lending capabilities.