Greg Blount gets on the phone to help borrowers and credit union employees, earns Ribby Award for May


During the Great Recession, a credit union CEO took on entry-level assignments to help the company and its borrowers.

Greg Blount

Greg Blount

When the financial meltdown hit, Greg Blount, president of Tropical Financial Credit Union (TFCU), was close to finishing his successful banking career. Rather than strap on his parachute, he and his executive team assumed entry-level assignments to help the company and its borrowers. His efforts have earned him the Ribby Award for May.

During the last 21 years, Blount had built TFCU, located near Miami, into one of Florida’s leading institutions. His retirement date was in site. Facing a rapid increase in delinquent loans, Blount eliminated most of TCFU’s outsourced collection service by assigning himself and every other manager to daily telephone duty. He kept cash flowing in, reduced expenses, avoided layoffs, and helped borrowers stay above water by getting in the trenches. Leadership doesn’t get any better than that.

“In my first banking job, I was assigned collections and I knew this was a way to help us make it in these tough times,” Blount told me. “We’re not just a bank. Our borrowers are members of our credit union and it’s our obligation to personally help them.”

Blount and his managers each make 25 calls to members one night every week in addition to their regular responsibilities. The effort has succeeded on many levels. Payments from delinquent borrowers have improved through personal contact with dedicated professionals rather than call center telemarketers. The managers have established solid connections with their constituents, enabling them to better understand their business environment. TCFU avoided layoffs to regular staff by reducing the cost of collection services. Customer satisfaction ratings are the highest of all time.

Ribby Award winners are leaders who put their customers and employees before themselves. Each month, it recognizes a chief executive or business owner, who steps out of plush offices, away from armies of assistants and sycophants, to personally manage and promote.

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