By: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read December 2019 — There are options when it comes to banking and it’s not just choosing between the multitude of traditional banking institutions. When Invest: spoke with Richard Helber, president and CEO of Tropical Financial Credit Union, he made sure to convey that unlike traditional banks, its credit union is a not-for-profit cooperative whose main goal is putting the customer’s interests first. He also spoke highly of the benefits of being located in South Florida and the trends he is keeping a close eye on as we turn the corner into 2020.
What advantages are afforded to customers who bank with a credit union like Tropical Financial as opposed to traditional banks?
One factor that really makes us different from our banking counterparts is that we are not for profit. We are organized as a cooperative, so we refer to our customers as members because they actually own us. They elect among themselves individuals who will be on our board of directors. Our board of directors are all volunteers. Because we are a nonprofit, we do not pay income taxes and also do not have a profit motive.
Banks are organized for profit and we are organized for service, with the philosophy of people helping people. What this means to consumers is that we are putting their interests first. There is no stock and we have no stock options. Our goal with our volunteer board is to put the interests of our members first. This translates into trying to be more competitive on our rates and fees and providing better service. In this day and age when there are so many people with busy lives, our mission is to help them make their finances easy to access and affordable so that they can get on with the things that are important in their lives.
How is the location of South Florida conducive to the future success of your operations?
There are a lot of positive things happening in South Florida. The state is still seeing over 1,000 people a day moving within its borders. There are still companies that want to relocate here or anchor themselves in Florida. It also helps that this is an international market as well. This has increased the amount of diversity in terms of the number and types of companies that are here, in addition to the variety of professionals who have moved into the state.
What are the continuing or emerging trends in banking that you are keeping a close eye on as we move into 2020?
One of the trends we are watching carefully is the tellerless branch. This is just starting to happen in South Florida and in different markets across the county. This machine is more or less a highly sophisticated ATM. But it can do a lot more than just take a deposit and dispense cash. They can do all the same things a human teller would do and unlike a human, they can be available 24 hours a day. The branch is being transformed into a financial consultation center not a transaction center.
Another trend we have observed is that when it comes to banking, the younger segment of the population wants tools to help them better organize their finances and make good decisions. For that reason, we have created the Get Beyond Money platform where an individual can sign up to meet with a money coach and develop a financial action plan.
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