Your League is beginning a new series as a part of Management Notes, interviewing credit union leaders from across the state about their paths to how they got where they are. In the first installment, we talked to Wade Stapleton, President of LifeWay Credit Union and a recent addition to Your League’s Board of Directors.
Q. What was your first job overall and what was your first credit union job? How did you get brought into the industry?
Wade Stapleton: When I was 14 I had a paper route, delivering for the Kingsport Times-News every afternoon after school and then mornings on the weekends. After I graduated from East Tennessee State University, I was hired as a credit union examiner for the TDFI. I’m actually a second-generation credit union person. My father was in credit unions for 46 years, so I grew up in the industry.
Q. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received early in your career?
WS: My father taught me from a young age the concept of opportunity cost. No matter what you want in life, there’s a cost to getting it.
Q. Did you ever have a moment when everything just clicked and you felt like what you were doing was what you were meant to do? Or did you feel you were meant to do something else?
WS: I’ve had several moments like that over my career. One of those was right after I came to LifeWay Credit Union. I made a simple change in something operational that immediately made it easier for our members to do business with us. For more than a week, I had members come into my office and thank me personally for it. When you’re able to do things to please your members, that’s what it’s all about.
Q. Can you give an inspirational story for how your credit union helped a member when a bank wouldn’t?
WS: A few years ago, we had a member whose identity was stolen by her sister. The sister had absolutely ruined our member’s credit. Our member’s car had stopped running and it made no sense for her to put any more money into repairs. She had applied for loans with other financial institutions and was turned down by most. The few who did approve her for a loan wanted to charge outrageous interest rates. She came to one of our loan officers, told us about what her sister had done, and the loan officer listened. After she had all the information, the loan officer saw a person and not a credit score. We had the member in a new car that afternoon. She said she does business with us now because we gave her a chance when others wouldn’t.
Q. What’s the one thing that, when a young professional that reads this, you want them to take away?
WS: Having been in the industry for 30 years, I can honestly say that making a living as a credit union employee has been very fulfilling. Working with both my staff and my board to help our members is extremely rewarding.