Benson Porter, CEO

Benson Porter, CEO

As part of our monthly series where we interview experts here at BECU, we sat down for a conversation with CEO, Benson Porter.

What's in store for BECU members in 2020?

Finding ways to enhance the member experience is always a priority. We want our members to feel connected to BECU and recognize the value of their membership. Our goal is for members to feel confident that we genuinely care about their financial well being and we provide the right range of products, services, and tools to help them improve their financial health.

Members want to bank with us in the way that best fits their life, whether that's online, mobile, in-person or a combination of all three. As more and more members turn to their phones to access and manage their accounts each day, providing a great digital experience is one of our key areas of focus. Throughout 2020, members can expect to see new features in the BECU mobile app such as the ability to activate or pause their debit card, see their FICO score, or even apply for a Visa card.

In addition, with the strong growth in our business membership, we will be working in 2020 to provide online banking services dedicated specifically to their needs.

We're also looking to roll out tools to help and encourage members to build up their savings, which is a key step toward financial health.

We know our members want to quickly and safely send money to friends and family. We rolled out Zelle® last year, and in 2020 we'll make it even better by making it easier to enroll, improving security and authentication, and allowing senders to add more details in the memo field. I joke around a lot with my sons, so I'm already scheming ways I can have some fun with my transfer notes.

Our commitment to the communities we serve is as strong as ever. In 2019, BECU gave more than $6.4 million to our communities through charitable giving and time. We will continue our giving program with a focus on partners and initiatives that improve the financial health of individuals, families and communities at large.

These are just a few examples of what we have in store for members in 2020 and you'll hear more about them here on our new blog and at our annual Member Summit, which will take place in April. I encourage all members to attend, either in person or online. It's been a great opportunity for members to learn about their credit union, meet the people behind the scenes, and gain some helpful strategies related to home buying, retirement, starting a business and more. We'll announce the date and 2020 agenda in March.

How has BECU changed since you came on board? As you think about BECU and the next five years, what are you most excited about?

Technology and data intelligence are ever changing, and companies have discovered new methods to deliver products and services faster than ever, and in ways that are often tailored to the consumer. This has transformed consumer expectations and influenced the way people trust, engage and stay loyal to brands.

We've seen and implemented a lot of changes at BECU over the years as we find new and improved ways to deliver a great member experience. What hasn't changed, since our founding in 1935, is our commitment to improve the financial well being of our members and the communities where they live.

I believe BECU, along with other credit unions, bring a unique, purpose-led alternative to traditional banks that's right in line with what today's consumer wants and expects. This alignment in values, plus BECU's ability to offer the banking products and services that consumers need for their particular stage of life, is what has enabled BECU to grow and in return, give back to our members and their communities.

What makes the next five years exciting is delivering value for members in expected and unexpected ways, and maintaining our high level of member satisfaction. All while staying true to our purpose and values.

How does BECU measure success? Is it all about loans, assets, and membership numbers?

As a financial cooperative owned by our members, we measure success a bit differently than other traditional financial institutions. At BECU, we have three key metrics:

  1. Return to Member: This is the monetary value of what we give back to our members in the form or better rates and fees when compared to an average bank. In 2019, BECU returned $322 per member or $388 million for the entire membership. This is our version of a patronage dividend.
  2. Feedback from our Members: We measure our service levels and member loyalty using Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is a recognized measure of customer experience in how likely someone would be to recommend a service or company to a friend or colleague. Our NPS for 2019 was 71%, which is in the highest decile when compared across all industries and more than double that of traditional banks.
  3. Net Worth Ratio: This is the amount of reserves BECU has accumulated and is our key measure of safety and soundness. It ensures that BECU will be here for our members in both good and difficult economic times. Our current Net Worth Ratio is 11.41% and is well above the National Credit Union Administration's target of 7% for well capitalized credit unions.

If you could go back and give your 20-something self some money advice, what would that be?

I probably needed more than just money advice back then, but we'll leave my fashion sense out of this. If I could talk to my twenty-something self, I'd tell him, "Save your money kid and stop calling Dominos." If I had put the money I spent on pizza toward early Microsoft stock, I'd really have a story to tell!

What's your number one piece of advice to those looking to become CEO one day?

Whether the goal is to be a CEO or simply advance to the next step in a career, I encourage people to take on new challenging projects, especially when it pushes them outside of their expertise or comfort zone. If someone believes enough in you to offer the opportunity, you should believe in yourself.

Trust your skills and knowledge base. You hear a lot about finding the courage to say "no" more often, and I'm not discounting that. However, when an opportunity comes along that will push you to stretch your skill set, develop new expertise and build new relationships in the workplace, it's usually worth the risk of saying "yes."

What is your favorite car karaoke song?

Thankfully for the sake of anyone around me, I'm not one for singing in the car, or anywhere else. But, I do have a pretty deep playlist for when I'm out on my bike. I tend to gravitate toward classic rock and country, but my teenage son makes sure I have a few current hip hop songs on there.

In fact, on a recent bike ride, I stopped at a store for a bottle of water and lost the Bluetooth setting to my headphones. Here I am by the refrigerators and all of sudden this Lil Wayne song, which wasn't really "language-appropriate" for my setting, starts blaring from my phone. My son got a big kick out of that. Me? Not so much.