president and CEO of Pennsylvania State Employees Credit Union
Q: What trends are you seeing in the industry?
A: I would say we're seeing a lot of narrowing of margins, more competition for loans and certainly increased regulation and everything that comes with that. There's obviously increased costs for compliance, especially with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau coming out with new regulations.
I think those are the major ones within the credit union industry, but that extends to the financial services industry as a whole.
What do you feel your member base is most looking for, especially in this economy? Has it changed in the last few years?
It definitely hasn't changed. They expect the same things they have always expected, and that's value and accessibility. They've come to expect a certain value from us, such as the ATM surcharge rebate that we offer.
This year we gave back a $10 million "Relationship Reward" to our members. Thanks to our members, we're as strong as ever and, as a member-owned cooperative, it's only right that we give back to the members.
Your company profile mentions your passion for technology. Of what innovations that you've overseen at PSECU are you most proud?
Our UPost@Home program — long before you could take a photo of your check and post it by smartphone, you could do this with us online. The member can log in to their account online, tell us they are making a deposit, get a session number and have immediate access to that money. This online program was one of the first in the country, especially among credit unions. We now have the smartphone remote deposit capture and an app among several different platforms.
Our online banking, when we started it in the 1990s, was also one of the first in the country, and it has really expanded since I took over (as president).
Our branchless virtual model has grown in the past few years — we started it 30-plus years ago. Other institutions are following suit. We really rely on that, because we have members scattered across the entire country.
You have worked at credit unions across the country in your career. Have you found that geography causes any differences, or do you see mostly similarities?
Geography doesn't really make a difference. Member value and that expectation is pretty much the same everywhere.
Tell us how progress is going with construction of PSECU's new headquarters.
It's on schedule, even with some of the severe weather we've had. There've been very few setbacks, and we're scheduled to move in October.
Gregory Smith, 59, has been president of PSECU since 1991. He started his career in San Diego and progressed cross-country, from other credit unions in California to ones in Minneapolis and Michigan, before he landed in Harrisburg. Throughout those moves, he studied economics at the University of California at San Diego.
He and his wife live in Lower Paxton Township and have two adult sons. In his spare time, he enjoys exercise and cooking.
He has a special interest in tending his orchids, with a small greenhouse in his PSECU office. In fact, his orchids can be found on colleagues' desks all around the credit union.