Almost every credit union I know needs loans right now. So the CFO rattles Marketing’s chains and tells them the credit union needs loans. Marketing starts brewing up a concoction of loans with a lot of spread, but not so much risk that it keeps the CFO up at night. Concepts are dreamed, visuals created, goals and ROI plotted and blessed by the executive team, then marketing starts working its mojo and gets it out the door.
That’s when the grumbling starts. And Marketing starts grinning like a Cheshire Cat. Because the grumbling is coming from the loan department.
Here is some of the grumbling from loan departments that I’ve heard about lately:
One credit union promoted second mortgages and personal loans aimed at homeowners with unsecured debt. The direct mail was planned to hit mailboxes about the same time as their holiday credit card bills. The response was so great they doubled their goal and brought in over 140 loans in two months. The loan department was not very happy about the work load though.
At CMBDC in DC one CU talked about how they offered $1000 Holiday Signature loans for C/D/E members that couldnâ€™t get financing elsewhere, with a 17% rate tied to direct deposit and auto payment for one year. That CU made $1.2 million of these loans last holiday season, which was quite a heavy load on the loan department (would you want to process 1200 loans?) â€“ but think of the margin they made for their CU on that money! They already have members asking for it so they are planning on running the same promotion next year. (I assume all their loan officers have already gone insane, so it won’t matter.)
I heard of another CU that does 0% loans for teachers setting up their rooms. That would certainly make many loan departments come up for air.
Now, granted, Lending is paid to be critical, so grumbling and complaining about Marketing is just part of their natural character. But why is Lending so grumpy these days? Maybe it’s because they aren’t used to working very hard lately. Not that they aren’t capable, mind you, but let’s be honest, they haven’t had a lot to do recently, and it’s easy to get used to a comfortably slow pace at work. (To any Lending personnel reading this, I am just kidding. Really. Please don’t hurt my credit score.)
So, how is Marketing supposed to do something amazing without causing problems in Lending? Especially when you don’t have a CEO that has your back and tells Lending they just need to get it done?
You can start by befriending the loan department. Offer incentives, buy them lunch â€“ whatever you can do to make them happy. Because not only can they make or break your promotion, they also have the power to cross-sell for all sorts of opportunities by working that credit report.
Understand what their job is like for them. Loan officers are always worried about their loans being the ones that come back to haunt. Risk is rarely rewarded and mistakes are admonished. They usually get higher marks from their boss for getting the paperwork filled out accurately and being conservative, than selling, being flexible/creative on funding, or closing the loan quickly.
Get their buy-in before you launch. Understand they work within a process â€“ get this pay stub, I need proof of income, etc. â€“ so hold a preliminary meeting with the loan department. Get their feedback on past promotions and suggestions for future promotions.
Recognize their input publicly. Thank them in front of their peers or by email to the group, especially as it will be much harder for them to complain about their own ideas.
And most importantly, make sure their incentives are right. Your goal is to get them to want to do it.
Besides, when the carrot is big enough, it muffles all that grumbling.