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Bridging Tradition and Innovation With Telcoe Federal Credit Union CEO Kristy Vest

2 min read

Kristy Vest, who became chief of Telcoe this spring, has more than three decades of experience in finance, having worked in both the credit union and banking industries. Telcoe Credit Union offers checking, savings and loans to groups across the state.

Vest graduated from Arkansas State University in 1991 with a degree in accounting.

What attracted you to a career in the financial services sector?

I started my career with a CPA firm right out of college where I spent some time auditing various banks. From there, I was offered an opportunity at a bank. Once at the bank, I enjoyed what I did and realized financial institutions would always be an important and necessary part of our economy. Since I wanted to spend my career focused on one industry, it naturally evolved.

What is the biggest challenge facing credit unions?

One of the biggest challenges facing financial institutions is the movement of the younger generation toward less traditional banking channels. We have to look for new ways to market to these individuals and ensure they understand the value the traditional channels offer, such as deposit insurance.

What adversities have you had to overcome on your way to this position?

With my first banking position, I faced an environment where smaller local banks were being purchased by regional banks, which in turn were being purchased by national banks. I saw bank employees losing their jobs. This led me to look toward a career with a credit union for better stability.

What aspect of the job surprises most people?

When running a business, especially one with a limited full-time employee count, you are frequently called upon to perform different roles. It is imperative to understand each role in the business.

What visions, plans or goals do you have for Telcoe going forward?

I plan to continue to ensure an excellent service level for all our members while seeking new and better ways to serve our community. Since 1950, we have been there to help our members earn more on their money while paying very low loan rates.

What are the big differences in leading a bank compared to a credit union?

The members of the board of directors of Telcoe are volunteers from our membership. This is a major difference from banks. Credit unions must “qualify” people for an account based on standards set by the National Credit Union Administration. Beyond that, the biggest difference I have seen is in the way credit unions interact with members. Credit unions work to ensure they know their members and provide them with the information necessary to make the best financial decisions for their future.

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