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Title: President and CEOCompany: Assemblies of God Credit Union Education: Bachelor’s in finance, Cameron University, Lawton, Okla.; Master of Divinity, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary Top rung: After six years with Assemblies of God Credit Union, Ebisch was named president and CEO on May 1, leading a staff of 45.  Contact: president@agcu.org
Title: President and CEO
Company: Assemblies of God Credit Union
Education: Bachelor’s in finance, Cameron University, Lawton, Okla.; Master of Divinity, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary
Top rung: After six years with Assemblies of God Credit Union, Ebisch was named president and CEO on May 1, leading a staff of 45.  
Contact: president@agcu.org

A Conversation With ... Paul Ebisch

Posted online
Tell us about Assemblies of God Credit Union.  
Assemblies of God Credit Union was formed initially to serve ministers and specifically, missionaries, of Assemblies of God around the world, because they have a lot of specific banking needs that are unique. … A group of ministers and employees decided to come together and put in some deposits, so that’s how it all began – in 1951, with a $2,000 deposit. AGCU’s primary goal is to serve ministers, missionaries and employees of the Assemblies of God here in Springfield and all around the country. Missionaries in more than 180 countries around the world bank with us. … We’re unique in that we have to think globally all the time. … We also serve those who attend Assemblies of God churches in the Springfield area.

Now, AGCU has more than $110 million in assets and 15,000 members. Has that growth been gradual or more recent?
Six years ago, we were at $51 million, so in a short amount of time, it’s grown. And it’s all intrinsic growth, no mergers. In the past five years, our membership base in the Springfield area has doubled. We have about 9,000 members here in the Springfield area.

Where are AGCU’s growth opportunities?
In the Springfield market, loan volumes have really been picking up for us in the auto loan sector. We’re setting records for the credit union this year (with auto loan volume of) $1.1 million a month. That’s been very encouraging.

With a Master of Divinity, how did you end up working in the financial arena?
I got my degree in finance with a concentration on investments, and originally moved to Springfield to go to seminary. I am a credentialed minister with the Assemblies of God. At the time I was going to seminary, I started working for the Assemblies of God Foundation, which is the trust department, and eventually, I became the director of the retirement plan for the Assemblies of God nationwide. The big advantage of (my background) is that I understand our members. I understand the base that we’re serving because I’ve been one of them. I pastored for a few years while I was going to seminary. I think that’s given me a lot of advantages in knowing what we can do to help and serve the churches and the ministers.

What’s your management philosophy?
My management style is much more open. I’m always looking for team members who can complement each other, and I like for management to be able to vocalize their thoughts and opinions. (Becoming) president gets me that much further removed from the customer, and I learned a long time ago that the teller on the front line sees customers more than anybody else and has significant influence, and I really see those front lines as being able to elevate problems and solutions quicker if I listen to them. One of our goals here is to come out with a new mission statement for the staff and new cultural values. One of them is, “You can’t have a bad day.” Even though bad things may be happening around us, when we’re in a service industry, we can’t have a bad day for the members or customers (or) other employees. Because when we have a bad day, we tend to rub it off and cause everybody to have a bad day.

What other changes are planned for AGCU?
Just recently, the board has approved $250,000 in upgrades in our technology for providing more mobile banking options. … More mobile apps, and the ability to scan checks for deposit to make it easier to work with us anywhere in the country. … A lot of members are churches, and they’re nonprofits, so every dime that they have counts. We put a lot of focus on trying to become more efficient so that we can continue to keep fees lower and keep interest rates on loans advantageous.

What are some global challenges facing AGCU and its members?
Fraud is a challenge that we deal with and regularly have to work with in this day and age of electronic and debit and credit card fraud. Another local entity could shut off the rest of the world and not allow them to use their plastic, just to cut out fraud. We can’t do that, because we have (members) in all those countries. Exchange rates have affected our members. … Some of the biggest challenges are the changes we’re all facing, whether it’s economic changes or regulatory changes … and we have to be constantly improving ourselves. One of the mantras here is “Fail forward fast.” We have to identify where things work and don’t work, and change quickly in response to it.
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