It's not often that competing financial institutions agree to share, but that's not the case for two Florida credit unions.

To better offer home loans to their members, the $141 million-asset Gold Coast Credit Union and $121 million PBC Credit Union successfully use the same mortgage loan officer.

Their lending partner, CU Members Mortgage, worked with the two CUs in 2013 to customize a program that has helped them achieve a cooperative lending solution for all their members. "These are two innovative credit unions taking the cooperative model to another level — creating a truly smart way of doing business to meet member needs," said CU Members Mortgage Senior Vice President Linda Clampitt. "Sharing a loan officer to help them support their staffing requirements that ultimately fosters an increase in business really works here. It could provide a proven template for other credit unions in similar situations."

The loan officer is a CU Members Mortgage employee.

In 2012, the mortgage industry was experiencing a huge increase in refinances and the Florida CUs realized that compliance and regulatory issues were going to become much more complicated. Both institutions also knew their members had a need for mortgage loans and they wanted to be ahead of the curve to meet the demand.

Located about two miles from each other, the CUs share many business sources, so discussing the idea of sharing an onsite mortgage loan officer to save costs was nothing new.

"Having a personal connection with members looking for a mortgage loan would be a big benefit to us because we have money to lend," said Chris Calvert, VP of lending and collections for PBC CU. "Prior to 2013, we didn't have that, so we pursued it to support our members."

Both credit unions were looking for a solution. "Members were repeatedly coming into the branch asking to speak to a loan officer," said Michele Powers, VP of member services/COO for Gold Coast. "At that time, all we had to offer were brochures with mortgage information, a toll-free number, and a link on our website."

By January 2013, both credit unions had hired a shared mortgage loan officer to work on site. The schedule alternated every other week at each credit union.

"Having an on-site loan officer has helped our credit union grow its mortgage business, both in purchases and refinances. In addition, offering home loans is a value-added benefit to our members," Powers said. "In 2012, we closed over $5 million and increased in 2013 to over $7 million in home loans."

The loan office has helped both institutions meet their members' demand of getting mortgages combined with personal service.

"Since January 2013, our mortgage business has increased 52%," Calvert said. "It's hard to quantify how much of an impact having an in-house loan officer has contributed to that 52% increase, but I know it wouldn't be close to that number without her. So it has benefited us tremendously because now our mortgage lending is front and center. Our members know we offer this personal service because of her presence."

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