Johann Borde, the new Chief Operating Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service Credit Union (PCU) is first and foremost a father. “A father of four, a husband and everything thereafter,” he laughs as we meet two weeks into his new position and office.
That family-first position also applies to his view on the working world – in a company and a business that takes a different view of the customer as a shareholder and partner as opposed to a client. The credit union which began operations in 1956 and opened its doors to non-security force members in 1984 is on an aggressive new drive to increase its asset base and offerings to shareholders. The office of the COO is just the start of the process to achieve this.
“A credit union functions very differently to a traditional bank,” Borde explains. “Profit is a motive of course, ROI is a key component to any operation, but the way it is attained is very different and it’s also not the singular priority beyond being able to run the operations profitably. I can illustrate this best by the fact that we apply interest rates on the reducing balance and not the original principal loaned, making our loans more competitive and accessible for our family of shareholders.” Having started his career in the banking sector, he would know best.
“The traditional banking world didn’t sit well with me,” he explains, “I have an innate understanding and belief in the goodness of Man and the inherent nature of Man to achieve. I’m a lover of people and from that perspective I would want my personal and business goals and life to align, so I set off in the the direction of working with a credit union and did so for seventeen years, working my way up from the junior position I was in to Managerial level position before making the move to join the PCU.
“In all that time I have seen a very different approach in the credit union industry – one that is more akin to coming home when you come into any of our offices – the spirit of the operation is quite different in a positive way. When you open an account at any other financial institution you are just a customer and as such the rights and privileges afforded to you are confined in that reality but when you join a credit union, any credit union, you are an owner of that institution based on your share holdings; as such the rights and privileges afforded the owner of an institution would be far superior to that of a customer,” he notes.
“Additionally, one can leverage this new-found reality of entrepreneurship to offer insights into the management of your own financial affairs in your own financial co operative. The same can’t be said of other financial institutions. More than that, I see the spirit of the operation in credit unions as one of relationship management – we do the best in the interest of our family of shareholders to ensure long-term growth and sustainable development in the lives of our members. We would advise in their best interest even if that advice is to say no, or not yet, so that we can ensure that their long-term interest is served.”
What Sets the TT Police Credit Union Apart
As a means of diversifying risk and offering a service to customers, the credit union offers its own retail shop space of white goods, home furnishings and more to shareholders and the general public. The supply chain is managed to create a lower-cost operation and pass better prices on to customers. This is one tangible way in which the credit union offers something of a difference to the public but even more noticeable than these retail shop spaces is the level of detail and customer service offered.
As part of their plans to expand their own business success, one of their strategic focal points would developing further customer service experiences with extensive training to improve on it. The flat orgnanisational structure is something that attracted Borde to his new role here, but also one that bodes well for shareholders in that it allows new suggestions to be evaluated and implemented quickly to everyone’s benefit.
“PCU is well-poised to break into the $1bn asset base in short order based on our fantastic niche that we have managed and served well – the security forces and their employees. But we really want John Public to know that this is credit union for everyone – we want PCU to go from a best kept secret to having everyone raving about us essentially. We are poised for growth and we want to take new members, security and non-security related, with us on that journey.”
Changes to Come
New marketing initiatives will be one of the main changes that will be ushered in under the COO’s offices to help PCU expand their market and shareholder base. Alongside this would be increased scrutiny of the risk management aspects of the organisation’s operation to find the best balance for management. This would be especially important in light of the changes proposed by the State which will see Central Bank responsible for overseeing their operations and place increased demands in terms of reporting and oversight on credit unions.
“The new environment will be more complex and will be one that we will have to embrace to ensure compliance, but again it’s not the over-riding aspect of the changes we want to pursue. We will be placing a unique emphasis on building the capacity of our employees and our own family – we want an environment of well-cared for employees serving the shareholder and customer base in the same manner – that’s the best way to ensure that we grow. We want to be partners in helping people to realise their true potential – their inherent, true and good nature to achieve what they want for their lives.”