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First Tech Federal Credit Union

May 4, 2017|

Alex De La Cruz & Chylon Pappas from First Federal Tech Credit Union join Northwest Business to tell the story of a a how a credit union built to serve the technology community became a leader in banking technology.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

910 ESPN Portland presents northwest business a weekly one hour local business wildlife. If you would like your business to be featured on north was business please call 503535035. Million. Or email NW business said entercom.com. Now here's your host for northwest business Luke Anderson. Hey it's Luke Anderson thank you for an out in the northwest business podcast hey you're my conversation with Sean Pappas the vice president of membership and Alex don't cruise the senior vice president and head of retail at first text federal credit you. First text specializes in serving the needs of technology companies. And their families including Hewlett-Packard. Amazon Cisco and many more. Check out first tech bed dot com. This interview originally aired on April 29 2017. On 910 ESPN Portland. Alex on thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me there. Thanks for half asleep first tech credit union started as a credit union for word the tech industry. Explain to me what exactly that means. So. You start us off so first trading in actually got started back and 1952. Anyway as a trading in originally and brought together by Tektronix. Men and over the years we've through mergers grown in and even merge some credit unions in California to become what we are today was his first credit union. And if you know all the credit union credit unions have special charters and that does that defines who the membership base is for a that credit union and her first tack our members are all. Technology companies so that Microsoft Intel Amazon and I am over 815. Various companies all across the country. And it works with employers not necessarily the individual so it's based on where you work that is correct okay. And for as far as membership goes how do you go and recruit new members are you just looking for the business are you looking for the individuals within that distance. Well we do the couple ways so far the business to business side. We have a team that works directly with employers to add to the treading into their benefits package so that way when your working. At your company you'll learn a first tech that way. However first tech is now a size where were able to. Market directly to our our demographics and let them know that they are eligible to join the credit union and that their family members are also eligible to join. Alex would you mind explaining the difference between the credit union and standard bank actually that's the question so I know to go back in time when I talked about. What the purpose is a credit union how to compares to a large financial institutions so if you go back. Soundscan accordion that toll 1860 something he'd take a look at some textile workers in Europe that came together. In and were need. Financial advice or need loans and they relied on. On some pretty sketchy places but to get those types of services and products. They came together Ted to form this cooperative. That provided. Some of those products and some of that expertise. And since then it's evolved tremendously tonight just being about loans. Not just been about the advice but focusing on that membership that it serves so. You hear about a credit union focusing on its. Membership for us it's about serving those within the technology. Industry and so. We like to learn everything we can about them who they are what do they do whatever needs what kind of life events as they go through. And then we trying to figure out how can we best serve them based on the kind of experts we have. In our organization and kind of products that we have. Is well too. It's what's even more interest dean is since four this is not for profit cooperative. Were owned by a member so if you have a share count with us you have a piece of that a piece of that pie. Which makes it unique because at the end of the day. We take any of that income that comes into the organization. That's generated we dump a right back into the membership. In comparison as you mentioned with the bank they're driven by a the profitability that's gonna be given back to shareholders. And that has its pros and cons but sometimes the agenda gets a little Fuzzy. The united yeah ha ha I had misguided. And that shows up and ready different ways and so we like to make sure remain remain true to our values and and what we're focused on. And that that keeps us is definitely on the straight and narrow with our membership. And we don't want to get too far into the what are some of the differences between people who work in technology vs a member of say a community credit union. I think that the difference far our members and so these are folks that might be engineers they may be doing a very well all types of jobs with an eight particular tech company. So for us we know them very well so we know how to serve them. We know what products and services they might be gravitating toward we know what service levels they are demanding. And since we were built from that industry we feel like we represented them really well and so that makes sense for us to continue to serve that group of. Members. And in any kind of financial services industry institution. You're gonna be looking people that have done their homework. They've researched and that information is easily able to be accessed more and more as time progresses. But even within those. Folks that we were equipped with the technology sector they even more educated around. What some of those products and services should be and how to research it but even in a we produce a digital. Online platform and we maintain a website and we have a mobile application. And so making sure that we meet the expectations. You know some of the biggest. Tech companies in the country. You know that can be back can be tough that it means that we have to really raise raise their standards and raise the bar. For anyone just joining retirement Sean Pappas she's the vice president of membership and Fausto Cruz is senior vice president. Of the retail channel for first tech federal credit union. You can go to first attack fed dot com if you'd like to see more information about that you brought something up Alex it's very interesting to me so. All banks are trying to give up there ahead of technology but because you're working directly with these technology companies. You almost have to see what's next two before it goes out there obviously mobile laps and connect ability is very important than at other channels that maybe I haven't thought of that these folks are kind of connecting and interacting with him. Yeah so are I think. We have to be very conscious around. Understanding who our members are from these technology companies because they're gonna wanna touch us in different places and so we see that in normal. And in a digital environment. We see that in a retail environment as well too in why they come into one of our physical retail locations. And so how we provide that experience from the moment they walk in there is much different than what you might experience at a traditional bank. Pop same goes with our contact Tenner our presence on social media and how we respond in social media's. Very much focused on that memory than it is focused on us necessarily are to start image out there. So I would say that's where we Chubb differently but I think Chuan can speak to you. How we show up in you know these these employers these companies we show up much differently and how we approach them in and really try and set. Their employees for success when. Absolutely. I think on our side of the house when we're were keen with one FR which we call them sponsor companies are settings. And it's really about learning. How the company frayed so. It's very easy to talk about technology companies very broadly but each one is so different and so we have to sit down with them. And actually get to know of their workforce and know very people and from there we build the solutions. To meet the needs of their populations at each time we have an interaction with one of our company is it's very unique to that population of people and I think that's what makes. Pass different than even a lot of the other credit unions is that we do spend much time with them. And you don't have to list the specific companies spoke. When you think of technology there's. Everything Marquardt a soft learn everything in between you can kind of a broad range of what type of companies fall into technology. Oh yeah so we had anywhere Fran in your your Amazon is your Microsoft you're Agile answer HP's so really anyone touching. Many different parts of technology got your buying it bioscience in there as well. You we really do running dammit I and I am technology companies even mobile companies so we've got a lot of different companies everywhere percent today. And technology seems to be very pervasive in in everything that we do you know we're sitting here and radio studio it's just been upgraded have gotten. What five screens here that I can see Indian I would digital audio board here this brand new that's got 7000 lights on they don't know what they do threat as technology kind of permeates all these other industries. Does that expand the definition of technology strides Titus try to stay with the. Core work group it done it does start to expand you know who becomes the part of that field of membership but one of the things that we do it First Act I think is really important. As we've been around for a long time we have these companies that have spent. And years with fast bringing in a spare employees bringing us their children is that we do focus on Matt core group. More specifically so we don't spend a lot of time. Were going out and finding all these new companies we we really do believe that the group that we have. We're we're gonna make sure that there are also set up for success and certainly will bring more companies along as it makes sense for us to do that rain is it as they understand that and the value the first tech brings bolted out. But certainly we know that we've got a great set of numbers right now. And there's a lot of organizations that are. Pounding on the door to say hey. We want and we want you to partner with grass and it's flattering I mean salons group takes a hard look at each one of them but. There's a process such want takes in in in concert with our charter and what we do with our board. To review these and make some tough decisions around yes or maybe later or or no do you really fit in with. Are the rest of our membership or cooperative because. That's it yet and that's who we serve and we have to we have to be very conscious that. Yeah I guess to get the ownership of the members indeed keep them in the back of your mind with every decision you make up for people you bring along. And that makes perfect sense real quickly if I can get kind of the story of how are you. Came to the positions that your ended the two of you start in the tech industry or did you start through the financial sector and how do you Torrealba. Well I actually started it and Freddie unions and way back when he was in college and mentor in state. Who was working for local credit union down Corvallis and IA was in the marketing world and really wind figure out what my next step would be. So there's a brand new product on the market cult online banking junior blew behalf I now we're gonna. We're gonna roll out our own version of online banking that there was this current. They were miles away from where we would beat and so I had deputy captain visit first tack. And I went inside ace hot. They haven't figured out I want to be here and so with men and probably a few weeks I moved up to beaver attend to so I could. Being involved in what was going on the credit union and since that time I have. Worked my way up to where I am today so I've definitely and Al Benin born in the move meant Stillman the men and very committed to what we're doing and credit unions. When they started doing online banking at first tack was that something that was available at major banks or was this something that was new to the entire industry. I mean I am thinking at that point when I came into it was was fairly new some institutions had at some institutions were still using that call 24 dial up system. I believe that legend has it at the first online banking transaction was actually sent from first credit unions so. Which they were definitely innovators and pioneers at that time and so just to think. You know I was when I walked into it I was coming into Ryder brochure for our own online banking system. Back commander credit union that one I came in to what first tech was doing and how they were thinking. It was it was just inspiring to me and that's why I'm still involved with the first tech today because of that seemed energy and so I never and never dies so that's why it. And that kind of goes back to a house and sang about you have to kind of be on the cutting edge because the people in the industry. During the same thing flew Alex familiar story Gavin I actually started at a larger financial institution. I'm and it wasn't a credit union and I had a very prosperous career and was very successful. And enjoyed it but that was talked about that today I had. Someone a bit midlife crisis at that point. And it was more about purpose. And when an email purposes what do in in what I'm doing. Is it going to leave and have a lasting impression on people on an industry. And when I found out his at that. Pink that I worked tech air quotes re opening gonna work that is that that was gonna happen and so get a ton of research at that time. And was really looking for an organization that was progressive. Looking for an organization had good values vision that was positioned well. And they had me I know actual line. Really try to and not give me hired that's that's that's not not not surpass that I port town opposition. At trying to get him out all the fun. For you and just join them program we're talking with Sean papacy is the vice president of membership at first tech credit union. And Alex Della crews he has a senior vice president of the retail channel. We touched on this just for a moment Alex I know there's a different experience when you walk into one of these retail locations for First Act. What does it look like if you compared to the traditional bank. Eight out of the brits we have we're in seven states and Puerto Rico. So there's. A lot of them they looked different and as far as aesthetically in visually you're gonna get a mix of things from truly modern in new to you. Something looking more of a traditional. Branch and so I think what really sets it apart though is. What experience those employees create inside of that ranged from the moment you walk in the door and how you're engaged. To how we leverage technology to engage with you. To power able to then position you the right way. For whatever your needs are life events that may be going on I think that's what sets us apart. Speaking more towards. The physical attributes. We've spent time researching our members in understanding what they might need in the physical aesthetics of a branch and how it might ebb and flow. And we have a branch and we. We used to call brands in the future as our CEO it's it's branch of the now. I'm but. You know we've we've built abouts. Six of these are refresh some branches off together. And they've been extremely successful with feedback regaining former members. Not only in you know face face feedback bubble Patel and us and in the form of a surveys and data that were researching. Is that have been highly injury. When you go into some of the more modern retail outlets for these sorts tech companies I think of the Apple Store where the way to Microsoft. Stores look. It's completely unconventional so well at all about X. Tees and engagement. You'll notice some. And I don't mean. Say other financial institutions or banks or other places. And are all about trying to get to to do something different and you hear all timer you might even feel when you walk inside of an at a franks it's teach and about any contrary happen. Now you're gonna go do that and we're gonna make our lines extremely long or make you wait forever you know an app provides services that you had before. Hoping that's intention to make you wait mine but yeah I didn't I hope not I. But ice I would say with. With first tech and understanding its members were trying to provide we have members that. You know range demographics and a lot of different ways and we're trying to provide experiences for them in those ways at their pace. And so it's really about again that engagement that expertise. How they're feeling how they're doing what they need. And we've found that model to work out very very well for us. So a lot of research on your customer in advance capsule. One of the things that's very apparent in the tech industry is there's this tremendous sense of entrepreneurship. If first text customers are working through these large companies become members Webb who somebody goes and starts their own company that's. One of the best reasons to have a financial institution supporting youth that. Absolutely so once they go on. Let's say when she joined first tech credit union they're always remember. So you can go on and create your own company moved to a different company we have some of our members who might have started with Microsoft and move on to Amazon for example and that happens all the time they're always. A member of first tax so there could be a chance that they AE and want to refer someone at their new company that's not currently eligible. Weaken and house of conversations either make them eligible or we can have them and join my upper situations that would then make them eligible for membership. Some members for life member for life and that's what's most important about becoming a member is that your always remember you always have a place to come back to. As you'd joining your careers to be think about when you first starting out trying to get that first car trying to figure it all out he's got your first job do you think your rich. Frightening you realize it's maybe not eat any real high mom's house I don't play to totally totally see you comment and you get that first. That first product that first loan and then you always have someone come back to is your life changes and I think that's what keeps me at a credit union is I know that I can be a part of that story for that member. For the life of there you know existence and it's just that's a pretty cool thing to think about. If you got style connected to your question that we see members that we've helped with. The simplest of things we helped you get their first credit card reopened at the first car. We open open up their first savings account when they were you know not even born yet. But. It's amazing to see some of the things that we help with plate when they really dream and were able to connect that packed us so we've had a member recently. Who helped climb Mount Everest and she needed to get that funded and she successfully claimed that made it and she it was an Omega sorority here we've. Help people get into their first home. That it never think that they would it have on the medical by this age I wanna have a home and we hit it right on the mark. And others thousands of stories like that I think those are the ones that kind of bad drivers can keep this going winds with this organization. Totally and I would also say Alex has done an amazing job at helping us to. Crab those stories from and really listen to that that member voice it's so important to every day. He focused on and you know we all do different jobs right some of us might be in a branch environment I'm with the membership team. Alex has a different role. But were all working for the same person and so it's great to hear that voice and remember that week you know I will never be able to climb Mount Everest containment. I can barely hang on the stare at it but. I help someone. So I was thinking as he says that the you know it's someone's Mount Everest might be that first home and I'd be you know you you always hear that compares and stressed some very cool. Kind of place to jump off there what's next for first attack him and if you're always trying to stay ahead you're always you know trying to. Think of the members first what's what's on the horizon for her purse tech for banking and general. I think come. It's gonna continuously change. I think if we continue to do the job of listening might be done for many many years. We're gonna continue to go ball. I know in the short term we're gonna continue to improve. I'm the digital platforms we offer products and services we're gonna follow what branches look like and how you interact and those. Or to make it easier for you to connect with us virtually or the phone through. You know messaging. But I think payers that's gonna significantly change in how you access your money and where you access your money. And how easy it is for you to flip a switch and for something to change or secure something. I think it's gonna change on how much more access to have some of those experts people don't always associate first tack with we offer we have an insurance agency. We offer mortgages. You know we have an investment division that that provides expertise for. Financial wellness. After an investment portfolio. And and there's much much more on top of that and typing how do you. Get people to understand what that is because this is not about that product it's about wall why does that fit in for you and when does it in for you. But I think we keep listening longer term will will know exactly what we need to know especially our members. About what's cool about working for the companies that we work with they raise their hands and volunteer on the top all the time I would say the majority of our board members come from all of these eggs that we serve in these employers that we serve. And the open up folks they give us feedback normally through research that may lead we meet you were surveys that for one and call somebody to come in in. We just did a user task group in here actually in Hillsborough with a group of industry folks testing a new mobile application that we're working on in. The way we re rich feedback and these guys these events folks do it all the time or Idaho very rich feedback. Well and I was part of the reason that Sean that you joined first tack is because they were kind of ahead of the curve with the banking and working with people that are in the industry leaders. In technology allows you to kind of keep bed with banking. Absolutely and to kind of pick up where you left off on what's next for first checked I'm quite proud of his. You know we're growing our people so if you think about locally here in Oregon and and when I first heard the gradient I would say. 25300 employees and where 15100. More plus now. So big that we're you know building a new office on Hillsborough work Ron we're expanding our hiring more talent here locally. So it's amazing to see that you know as we do these things that Alex described were also standing up a new. Workforce of the future so that's gonna be really cool to kind of watch that evolve over the next few years. So if anybody is interested in looking for a new career path whether it's because of the financial or is because of the technology both exist at first that they can go to. First tax fed dot com and check that out if they're working for technology company can they go and check their availability to be a member there as well if they can't. Will perfect it sounds like everything that you need I go to first tech fed dot com Sean Alex thank you so much for taking the time to talk with northwest business thank you. Thank you but. If you'd like your company to be featured on northwest business called 5035350358. Or email NW business @entercom.com.