2 min read February 2022 —“Our culture empowers us to provide exceptional service to our members,” Vice President of Government and Industry Relations Bo Gilbert of financial services firm USAA shared in a conversation with Invest:. He discussed the challenges the company and city face, how it has contributed to the community and the characteristics that distinguish USAA.
What are the benefits of being headquartered in San Antonio?
San Antonio has been our home since 1922 when 25 Army officers started USAA at the Gunter Hotel downtown. And as a company founded by and for the military community, what better place to call home than Military City, USA? It has one of the largest concentrations of military bases in the U.S., and veterans and retirees choose San Antonio and the surrounding area more than most other locations in Texas. Why? One reason is because San Antonio is affordable. It was ranked “3rd best city for your wallet” by MarketWatch. The cost of living is low while our economy is diverse and growing, making it a favorable business environment.
Opportunities abound and are growing in San Antonio. The workforce is young, talented and rapidly expanding, and the community is a fertile environment for research and innovation. One area where we see enormous opportunity is in cybersecurity, and right down the road from us is UTSA – home to one of the nation’s top cybersecurity programs. And this is just one example of the many schools creating a talented pool of professionals right here in our backyard.
One last thing I’ll say is that San Antonio is also an incredibly friendly city. We have been ranked one of the friendliest cities in America for several years in a row. Interestingly enough, that’s reflected in our customer satisfaction feedback. Our members continuously tell us how much they enjoy talking to our member service representatives – many of whom are based right here.
So, 100 years after USAA was founded here, San Antonio is still the best choice for our headquarters.
What distinguishes USAA?
Our mission and our membership are what make USAA unique. We were created by military officers for the military community. When 25 Army officers decided to insure each other’s vehicles, I’m sure they never imagined that 100 years later their tiny organization would grow to serve millions in the military community. Because of that history and our culture, we understand the military community’s circumstances and financial situations better than other financial services organizations. And that’s our mission – to facilitate the financial security of our members – the members, veterans, and families of our military services. Our members know that we share their values and understand their lifestyle and challenges. When they experience a life event, whether that’s a deployment, a relocation, a marriage or birth, we can shift alongside them to match their needs. We provide a personalized, seamless experience that provides a smooth interaction between our members and employees. We also provide exceptional customer service to our members, nurturing our relationships with them. We have a 96% retention rate as of 2021, which demonstrates how our customers value us and our services. It also reflects our belief in our mission and the culture that we’re committed to creating for our members. Our culture empowers us to provide exceptional service to our members. Our commitment to our mission attracts new talent to us as well.
How is USAA giving back to the community?
It’s important for USAA to continue to serve our local communities – it’s been part of our focus for 100 years. Last year USAA, USAA Bank and The USAA Foundation contributed $48.3 million to local and national nonprofits. More specifically, for our local communities, we focus on family, wellbeing, diversity, equity and inclusion, and safety and natural disaster response. Here in San Antonio, we support organizations like Alamo Colleges, LiftFund, and Project Quest while nationally we support alliances like Bunker Labs. Our employees are highly engaged in our communities, as well. USAA employees personally contributed $9 million and logged over 200,000 volunteer hours.
What challenges are USAA and San Antonio facing to bolster the city’s presence?
Our challenges are similar to others that are navigating the current market that has been dramatically shaped by the impacts of COVID. But to address any challenge, it’s vital to have strong relationships and partnerships in the city. For example, our CEO, Wayne Peacock, serves on the Executive Committee for the Greater SATX (formerly the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation). Strong economic development in San Antonio is one of his passions. By participating in the development of greater:SATX, we are able to enhance job opportunities, economic growth and address other issues the city faces. We are also active partners with both the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (the oldest Hispanic Chamber in the country) and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. Staying tightly plugged in to our city is how we can identify challenges and contribute to moving our economy forward.
One thing we do see is a highly competitive labor market and changing expectations of employees and prospective employees. USAA and the city have had to reexamine what future employees are looking for in today’s competitive and tightened labor market. We offer world-class pay and benefits; we’ve increased our minimum wage and provided other incentives and benefits to make USAA more attractive to potential talent. Given the pandemic, we also make employee safety our top priority and offer three ways to work depending on the role they fill. Our goal is to ensure employees have the resources they need to keep them healthy and help them reach their full potential.
The challenges of the city are similar, but primarily focusing on education, transportation, food, housing, security and economic development.
But the challenges don’t stop us, they make us stronger. While some are calling the changing trends in the workforce The Great Resignation, I’ve heard a better way to describe it – The Great Recalibration. It’s an opportunity. And there’s nowhere I’d rather be headquartered than in San Antonio to watch those endless opportunities unfold.
For more information, visit: