Catalyst Corporate Arrives At First Anniversary “Energized”
One year ago, on September 6, Catalyst Corporate arrived on the credit union scene—a new corporate credit union, created by the consolidation of Georgia Corporate Federal Credit Union and Southwest Bridge Corporate Federal Credit Union.
Some 860 credit unions put up more than $90 million in capital to launch the new entity. It started with a new name—Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union. The new brand promoted the tagline: “Accelerating Success.” The emphasis on “accelerating” appears prophetic. In short order, Catalyst hired a new president, acquired the rights to Western Bridge Corporate’s membership and then launched a consolidation with FirstCorp. Along the way, Catalyst also made time to roll out a new, vigorous mobile banking product for its member credit unions.
“It’s not ‘whew,’ it’s ‘wow,’” said Kathy Garner, the President/CEO of Catalyst Corporate, where everything has been on a fast track the past 12 months. “It has been busy, but at the same time, it has been energizing,” Garner added.
“On this anniversary, I’m reminded of some early discussions, when we were talking about a new name for the organization. When the name ‘Catalyst’ surfaced, we gravitated toward its definition of ‘creating action.’ We are pleased that Catalyst has created a strong presence in the credit union market so quickly,” Garner said.
When it launched in September 2011, Catalyst had some 860 credit unions. However, in the 12 months since, the number of credit unions that have joined Catalyst has continued to grow—boosted in large measure by the addition of more than 300 former Western Bridge members. Membership now stretches from coast to coast. Figures at the end of August 2012 show Catalyst with more than 1,230 credit union members. Its capital has grown from $93 million to more than $150 million during its first year.
Much of Garner’s time in her early months on the job has been on the road visiting credit unions and attending credit union events, ensuring that new members are welcomed into Catalyst’s expanded membership. “Credit unions continue to comment on Catalyst’s great member service, effective communications and how pleased they are with our success. Catalyst’s success translates into their success,” Garner said.
“Credit unions have been nothing but supportive during the past year. They have expressed that they see Catalyst’s growth as delivering on our business objectives to create efficiency and value by growing scale.”
To obtain a more scientific assessment of member sentiment, Catalyst Corporate conducted a Member Satisfaction Survey in June. More than 2,000 contacts within its member credit unions were invited to participate and 540 from more than 300 credit unions responded.
One of the goals of the survey was to attain a Net Promoter Score (NPS) by asking: “How likely are you to recommend Catalyst to a friend or colleague?”
“We were delighted to receive an NPS score of 64 percent,” Garner said. “That places us slightly behind such well-regarded companies as Amazon and eBay, but above companies such as Schwab and American Express,” Garner said. (The average score in the banking industry is 18 percent, according to the book, The Ultimate Question 2.0.) “Respondents cited Catalyst’s quality of service and helpful staff among the reasons for recommending the corporate,” she added.
Garner said Catalyst has been keen on engaging its membership. “We are listening every step of the way,” she said.
As part of that “listening,” Catalyst formed three regional councils earlier this year. The councils have met twice to discuss product enhancements, member communication and the previously mentioned Member Satisfaction Survey.
The 36 volunteers serving on the regional Catalyst Councils, along with more than a dozen credit union professionals serving on various committees (including Catalyst’s new Enterprise Risk Management Committee), join a board of directors which has been expanded to 11 positions to better provide additional west coast representation. “We are proud that we have more than 50 credit union leaders who have volunteered to provide input and direction to Catalyst’s future,” said Lin Hodges, Catalyst board chairman and president/CEO of Associated Credit Union in Norcross, Georgia.
“While staff has been busy with integration and serving members, we need to acknowledge and thank Catalyst’s members for the critical role they have played during this past year—credit unions created us, credit unions have supported us, and the future of Catalyst will continue to be shaped by credit unions,” Garner said.