After I graduated from college in 1983, I moved forward with my plans to pursue a career in banking without any specific ideas of which aspect of the business was most attractive to me. I was aware that most banks offered a management training program for new college graduates. Two to three years of exposure to various areas of the bank typically was followed by a permanent, first-step assignment, sometimes as a branch manager, sometimes at a next-level position in other operational areas.
Unfortunately, 1983 was a bad time to be looking for a job, especially at a bank. The prime rate was still in the high teens, and the economy suffered from high inflation and unemployment. While my one serious bank interview didn’t work out, I was able to pivot and was hired into a similar management training program at a national finance company. Five years of what you might call “trial by fire” and I was hired as the VP/lending at my first credit union at age 27. Let’s face it—I was extraordinarily lucky.
While banks and many credit unions have similar talent development programs today, they’re typically geared toward developing the next generation of branch managers. I firmly believe that credit unions have to take a similar approach to developing tomorrow’s lending talent. I’m certain there is a contrarian or two who would say, “You don’t need to develop lenders! Machine learning will make all of your decisions, and members will do everything regarding their loan on a mobile device.”
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