Business Lending School Grads Leverage Training to Build Smarter, Stronger Lending Programs

Think about the beyond-full-time-job demands any credit union lending officer faces. Then mix in a six-month training course that puts them through 28 days of classroom curriculum divided into five one-week sessions and three days of final exams. While keeping their “day jobs” at their credit unions, students are also learning to master financial accounting principles, financial statements, business income and tax flow statements, long-range forecasting, and credit administration policies.

Graduates of The Business Lending School (TBLS) have “been there and done that,” and they recommend that credit unions considering expanding their lending programs first enroll a staff member in the school. Enrollment is now open for the 2013 class, which begins in Federal Way, Wash., on Feb. 25.

“I strongly encourage any credit union wanting to beef up their business lending to take advantage of a program like this,” said John Zmolek, executive vice president of Verity Credit Union. “We have a real advantage having a program like this so close to home.” Zmolek took home top honors in the 2011 TBLS class.

The school was founded in 2010 through a partnership between the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) and Hipereon, Inc., a commercial lender-training firm. The in-classroom training takes place in the Seattle area, while out-of-class projects and credit union mentoring are monitored by the instructors throughout the six-month program. The school is the only one of its kind offering long-term training in the region, as other programs offer shorter overviews and may include the expense of travel to the east coast.

Zmolek was not a business lending officer when he started at TBLS but was no stranger to calculating ratios and doing financial analysis as a former chief financial officer. He appreciated the TBLS focus on providing methodology as well as exposing possible pitfalls.

“Knowing where you could go wrong helps you head in the right direction,” he said.

CALCOE Federal Credit Union’s Candie Wayenberg is a 2010 graduate of TBLS. She enrolled when her credit union leadership team was considering expanding business lending. A decision was made not to do so, but Wayenberg reports her TBLS training “does make a big difference, even with smaller loans under $50,000.” She believes her education made her a better lending decision-maker.

“It gave me good instinct,” said Carl Roer, Sound Credit Union’s chief lending officer and a 2010 TBLS attendee. Since 2010, Sound has added another full-time loan officer, and Roer reports the CEO has a great deal of confidence in the lending team. He called the TBLS experience “quite rigorous” but added, “I came away with skills that helped me to better understand the ratios.”

The instructors, James Devine and Robert Hogan, have more than 30 years of experience educating bank and credit union lenders and their regulators.

In this competitive, heavily regulated environment, Hogan believes students need immersion in business lending training.

“They need to become business-model experts, he said, “and the only way we know that can be accomplished is to be steeped in the subject matter.”

TBLS guarantees a student’s business lending skills will be improved by graduation time, or a tuition refund is offered.

 

Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817, yjung@nwcua.org.

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