PITTSBURGH-The recession taught CUs some tough lessons, but none likely more difficult than improving efficiencies and right-sizing staff, according Troy Garvin.

The CEO of Omega FCU said that over two years ago the $86-million CU brought in a new Fiserv core processing system with the goal of improving automation "all the way across the board. Not only with daily operations but also with ATMs, EFTs, ACH, etc. We have been able to reduce our staff, through attrition, by about 15 full-time employees."

During that time the credit union has grown assets by $20 million. Garvin asserts that the CU is now better positioned to take on the right kind of growth. "You can grow for the sake of growth. Anyone can throw out a 4% CD and grow $10 million overnight. But you are not growing through better products and better service, and to do that you really have to get your efficiencies and staffing at the correct levels. We are growing for all the right reasons, through true member participation, and doing it at a cost of funds around 30 to 40 basis points less than our peers."

Garvin, who came on board in 2009, believes Omega would have eventually adjusted staffing and efficiencies, even without the recession. "The board realized they had to do it. But maybe it would not have happened as quickly. I think our credit union, and many others, are now in much better shape from an efficiency perspective due to the recession."

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