BECU CEO Finds Hope in the Challenges of 2020
(Editor's note: Benson Porter retired in December 2022. Beverly Anderson joined BECU as President and CEO Dec. 5, 2022.) Benson Porter reflects on the moments that defined the nation and our cooperative in 2020.
At this time last year, no one could have predicted how dramatically our lives were about to be transformed. COVID-19 reshaped the way we live, work and care for one another. Our nation's heightened focus on systemic racism drove our efforts to achieve equity. These conditions have laid a new foundation for the future we choose to create together.
Despite the challenges we faced this year, there have been silver linings and positive outcomes. I'm in awe of the resilience we've seen across our communities and how people showed up for one another, and how we, as credit union members and employees, embodied a simple but powerful idea: People helping people makes us stronger as individuals and as a community.
With all that the pandemic forced us to grapple with, it also prompted BECU to reimagine what "people helping people" means, and how we can expand on that philosophy to better serve our members and employees. Our efforts included adjusting operations at all Neighborhood Financial Centers to ensure a safe experience for everyone and enhancing our mobile app and Online Banking offerings as more members are choosing to save a trip to a branch. We deferred loan payments, provided paycheck protection relief and pledged more than $500,000 to numerous COVID-19 relief funds to help members and businesses. I'm honored to be part of a credit union that consistently showed up for the communities we call home.
The difficult conversations ushered in this summer, as the nation faced a long-overdue reckoning with systemic racism, inspired necessary self-reflection and action. We came together as a credit union to develop a path forward that places inclusiveness at the core of who we are and honors our purpose and values. While recognizing the journey toward racial equity is a long-term commitment, we have made big strides since June. This includes hiring Jackie Martinez-Vasquez for a newly created position of vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and committing $5 million over the next five years through the Black Community Development Project.
We will move this work forward for our members, employees and communities, and continue to share our progress. We will also continue listening to how you, our members, have been affected by the pandemic and address your long-term financial needs as well as everyday banking needs.
As we head into 2021, BECU is well-positioned to continue supporting our members. And, while the economic effects of the pandemic varied widely across our communities, we see some encouraging developments. Many members are saving more and continue to pay down credit card and loan debt. As a result of these members' behaviors, our deposits are running very high — approximately 2.5 times what we typically see. Strong growth in deposits is good news for members as it means we have ample funds to lend in this low-rate environment.
2020 challenged us in many ways, but I believe we are a stronger team, a better organization, and a more trusted credit union for our members as a result of meeting those tests. We look toward the new year with reinvigorated hope and dedication to helping you achieve your financial goals and well-being. We will continue to innovate our programs and products, invest in our digital capabilities and find new ways to meet our members where they are because that's just what "people helping people" means.
BECU wishes you and your family a safe and healthy end to the year, and we look forward to entering 2021 together.