Q&A With Chad Olney, New President & CEO of Pacific Crest FCU
November 7, 2016
November 7, 2016
Anthem: How’d you get your start with credit unions?
Olney: Other than having an account at one, my introduction to credit unions was as a small business owner and as a Board Member (Southern Oregon FCU in Grants Pass).
As part of that experience, I found the credit union philosophy more satisfying than, say, capitalism for purely capitalism sake. I worked to move into credit union leadership, which led me to becoming CEO at Bi-Mart Federal Credit Union, then to Oregon Community Credit Union, and here to Pacific Crest Federal Credit Union.
Anthem: You’ve worked with credit unions across asset size: has that changed your approach or view as CEO?
Olney: It’s kind of like coming full circle: starting at mid-size, now with another mid-size. Not much has changed for me philosophically. All CUs, regardless of size, face the same regulatory and technology challenges. The approach varies to some degree, the scale of resources changes, outsourcing changes a little bit. But at the end of the day, we’re doing the same job.
Anthem: Your predecessor was a strong credit union advocate, and recognized as an NWCUA Advocate of the Year in 2015. Is advocacy going to continue to be a focus of for Pacific Crest FCU.
Olney: She was a fantastic advocate, and I believe all credit union leadership should be. We have a role to play—but I think it’s wider than that. The purpose is not to do it all, but to engage as many people as possible in it. It’s a matter of engaging our staff, our membership in advocacy in ways that directly matter to them.
Anthem: That sounds an awful lot like the Association push to engage credit union members and more in a more holistic advocacy effort.
Olney: Yes. What we’ve seen in cycles over recent years is the power and importance of consumer choice. I think a lot of credit unions are experiencing that differentiator, especially right now thanks to our friends at Wells Fargo. We saw it a few years ago with Bank Transfer Day, too. It’s because of the value proposition that credit unions pose. Building awareness of how our ownership structure makes us different, advocating on behalf of the member, and engaging them when they realize how regulation directly impacts their lives.
Anthem: What’s your outlook for Pacific Crest FCU?
Olney: Kathie and the leadership team did a great job of leading the credit union through the trials of 2008-10. They did that strategically very well, in a community was heavily impacted and slow to recover. Through those challenges, we have a very seasoned and experienced leadership team.
Our job is risk management, not risk avoidance. I think we’re positioned to manage the risks well. We’ve planned, we’ve modeled, and we’ve developed a knowledge base for how to respond to economic changes and how to serve our members and communities throughout those changes. We’re ready.
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