Q: What are the advantages of working with Credit Union versus Big 5 banks if I want to make my career in lending, as Credit Unions are more conservative when it comes to lending money?

Credit Union Young Leader:
Adam Fraser, BBA, FCUIC
Senior Business Relationship Manager

Credit Union:
Coastal Community Credit Union

A: Having started my career with a chartered bank and then moving to the credit union system I find this question interesting. Really, I think it speaks to why someone would want to build a career within the credit union system in any capacity. First, I’m not totally convinced that credit unions are more conservative in our lending practices – rather, I think we take the time to get to know our members better to provide better service, as well as manage our risk more effectively.

The biggest difference in working with a credit union compared to a big bank is the level of influence a lender has on a loan file. In my experience, many lenders at chartered banks are primarily sales people and data inputters, with credit decisions coming from central locations that are often far removed from the lender’s location and influence. Credit union lenders tend to have more influence in making a credit decision, and therefore their understanding of the application and its strengths and weaknesses is essential in making good decisions. While being strong in sales is still important for credit union lenders, it’s not the only thing that matters.

From a career development perspective, this has a few important benefits. Having influence over the credit process helps to develop skills such as critical thinking, analysis, and communication. These skills are important for lenders to have in order to manage risk effectively and provide the best service for members. They are also important skills for someone looking to build a career within the credit union system. Finally, in my experience this also leads to higher levels of job satisfaction, which is important when considering where to build a career.

Overall, the credit union system is a perfect place for someone to build a career in lending – either personal or commercial. We consistently hear from our members that local decision making matters, and that they appreciate the time our lenders spend getting to know their unique circumstances. It’s rewarding to be invested in the financial success of our members rather than just trying to sell them another product.