Delta Community Credit Union CEO Lends an Ear and a Hand to Members, Employees
Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
Chat with Delta Community Credit Union CEO, Hank Halter, about auto financing, mortgages and commercial lending, and he’ll give you his full attention and impart a wealth of knowledge about the industry.
As leader of Georgia’s largest such group with 306,000 members and $4.7 billion in assets, Halter maintains, however, that a lot of the credit for their success goes to its most important assets: the 700 Delta Community Credit Union employees. “Our people are the brand and face of our company,” says Halter. “They take seriously our goal to provide members an exceptional, personalized customer experience. It’s one thing to add thousands of new members a month, but the key is how to keep them, and that’s what speaks well to our success.”
Oh, and yes, if the name, Delta Community, has a familiar ring about it, you can trace its genealogy to Atlanta’s hometown airline, Delta, where the financial lending group began in 1940 with just $40, eight employees and one branch. Today, Halter manages to visit each of the now 26 branch locations twice per year. In addition, he holds quarterly “town hall” meetings with his people so that he can use these field calls as opportunities to connect with them, and vice versa. For him, that’s the fun part of his job and it allows him to sleep well at night, he adds, knowing that his employees are well trained and focused.
When asked about how Delta Community connects with its members and potential ones, Halter responds that Delta Community Credit Union offers a wide range of educational programs from which people of all age groups can hear and learn about the benefits of belonging to a credit union.
For example, the company teaches young adults in its “Quarterlife” program how to open and manage a checking account, something that will serve them their entire lifetime. Seniors can attend meetings in the branch community rooms to learn about estate planning and administration. Delta Community also offers courses on financial planning for women, as well as on home buying, understanding the mortgage process and “Investing 101.”
Delta Community’s relationship building has resulted in their lending business being very strong so far in 2014, with a portfolio of just over $3 billion. “The mortgage growth has exceeded our expectations,” says Halter. “We are up 10% year-to-date, with a projected increase of 14% for the entire year versus last year. Auto loans are our strongest consumer product. Commercial lending has also been strong. This year, we expect to be a record year for us.”
One of the leading advantages of being a member of a not-for-profit credit union is that the company distributes its earnings back to the membership in the form of lower rates on loans, higher rates on deposits and low or no service fees. Also, as a member of CU Service Centers, a nationwide cooperative, members can bank at 4,000 partner credit union branches. Delta Community has several of its own ATM locations and is part of Presto!, which offers more than 1,000 surcharge-free ATMs throughout the southeastern U.S.
Another key membership benefit and a top priority for Delta Community is protection of member privacy and security. They educate their members to be vigilant while the company uses industry-best cyber security practices with frequent updates. Accounts are also federally insured.
Halter alluded to recent industry consolidation, but cautioned that maintaining Delta Community’s enviable position as the largest in the state is not the primary goal of the company’s strategy. Rather he wants to be able to offer the best value for the member-owners versus offerings from traditional banking institutions, such as breadth of services, lower rates on loans, reduction of fees and strategic, organic growth.
Still, challenges remain for Delta Community Credit Union. Whereas the older model for the company required employment at Delta Air Lines or certain other affiliated businesses, today anyone who lives in the 11-county Atlanta metro area is eligible to join. “However, that message of eligibility still needs to be promoted, as does our suite of products, such as auto loans, checking accounts, even commercial lending,” says Halter. “That’s why we use incentive programs and contests from time to time.” On the other hand, he does reference the fact that the recent membership growth reflects that the Delta Community advantages are being recognized in the marketplace.
Halter, who grew up in Savannah, earned his accounting degree from Villanova and his MBA from Duke, which opened opportunities for him at Ernst & Young and later at American Airlines. In 1998, Hank joined Delta Air Lines, becoming the Chief Financial Officer in 2008. He became a board member of the credit union in 2006 and was elevated to CEO of Delta Community in 2013.
Tell Halter, despite his relatively recent appointment to CEO, what your personal financial and commercial business needs are, or ask him anything about the Delta Community Credit Union operations and benefits, and he’ll be glad to lend you an ear and/or lend you a hand.