EntRANCE offers learning, opportunities to lead and a path to the future.
CUES member Bill Vogeney, Ent Credit Union’s chief revenue officer and the usual writer of this column, has shared his positive views on our EntRANCE lender development program in the past. “RANCE” in the program name stands for “relevant abilities needed to contribute effectively.”
The first class of EntRANCE program participants helped Ent survive the onslaught of mortgage applications at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020. Now into the fourth class of lender trainees, Ent’s commitment to the program has never been stronger, as witnessed by senior leadership’s continued involvement and interest in every trainee. An example of that involvement and interest is that Bill invited me to write this column after meeting me through the program and learning of my interest in writing.
A 2021 graduate of Ent’s first EntRANCE class, I want to share the experience I had with the program and why it presents a fantastic opportunity for anyone considering a career in credit unions. EntRANCE gave me a well-rounded knowledge base so I could hit the ground running. It also gave me many different looks at where my career might go in the future.
I was hired by Ent in 2019 as an EntRANCE trainee and knew that on completion of the program I would be placed in one of the departments I had rotated through. Preference would be given to my first choice, but business needs would be considered as well.
Participants in EntRANCE spend three months being taught the ins and outs of each lending department. The idea is that by the end of each rotation, each trainee will have a sound enough skill base that the department manager would find them an attractive hire. In all, I rotated through mortgage post-closing, mortgage loan servicing, mortgage underwriting, mortgage closing, consumer lending support, mortgage disclosure desk, consumer underwriting and consumer loan consultant.
After completing my two-year training commitment, I stepped into the role of a mortgage loan closer, which was my first choice. A year later, I returned to the program to mentor a member of the next class. Participating in this program was a unique experience that I hope catches on throughout the industry because it provided three things emerging young professionals are looking for: an opportunity to learn, a chance to take the lead and a path into the future.
An Opportunity to Learn
The opportunity to learn through the program is self-evident.
Importantly, EntRANCE trainees learn more than just how to meet the surface-level expectations of each job through which they rotate. They also learn the why behind what they would do for each department. This helps promote cross-departmental understanding. In addition, the program gave me the opportunity to pick the brains of managers, vice presidents and even the chiefs and ask questions about how the departments are set up as well as the plans for the future. If young people are considering a career in credit unions but unsure about their abilities, a program like this can help.
A Chance to Lead
The chance to take the lead came when I was entrusted to mentor a trainee in our third EntRANCE class. I had been working as a mortgage closer for a little over a year when my supervisor asked me if I would be willing to spend the next three months teaching a trainee and allowing the trainee to shadow me. Having been through the program, I jumped at the chance to give back and share my experiences.
Serving as a mentor has allowed me to contribute to the broader credit union goal of “people helping people” and I took the next step toward becoming a leader. Being a mentor gave me some experience with the kinds of duties managers have without the full responsibility of a managerial role. By the end of the mentoring experience, I was more confident in my ability to guide others and in my own abilities as a closer. Notably, self-affirmation can be a hallmark of a fulfilling career.
Path to the Future
Perhaps the most attractive feature of EntRANCE for young professionals debating whether to make a career in the credit union movement is the path to the future that the program provides. When the two-year training commitment concludes and participants are placed into one of the jobs they spent three months learning, managers have a new employee with solid base knowledge and with whom they already have rapport.
There are no guarantees that EntRANCE will present trainees with an ideal career path or ensure they realize their goals, but the more moments young professionals have to show leaders the good they can do, the more likely an opportunity will be to appear (getting the opportunity to write this column is a good example). I’m still early in my own career, but the exposure to so many different career tracks and getting to know leaders at all levels of Ent has given me more clarity about where I see myself in the next 10 years: either moving to our processing department or moving into one of two mortgage supervisor roles and eventually into a managerial role.
Three Lending Tracks
All of this sounds great, but the program wouldn’t really work without buy-in from all areas of the company: the chiefs, managers, mentors and everyone in between. Part of the rationale of the chiefs at Ent being interested in getting to know every EntRANCE trainee is that they hope to identify one of three general career tracks for the trainees.
For some, a career in sales and service will be in order; in particular, Ent sees the opportunity to develop people rooted in its culture for future mortgage sales opportunities. Others may be seen as best suited to a more analytical field like underwriting or process or project management. Finally, Ent hopes that future lending leaders will be identified during the initial training period. Luckily, with the first two classes having completed the program, the third in progress and the fourth launched, management feels like they’ve gotten a good mix of people between these career tracks.
Hopefully this article has been informative to any young person who for now just has a job but is considering a career in credit unions. I’m genuinely enthusiastic about EntRANCE, its benefits, and the opportunity I’ve been graciously provided by writing this column based on participating in the program. In addition, I hope that credit union executives struggling to find the appropriate lending talent consider a similar lending training program to supply their future staffing needs. A program could also be established for training young people to work in other areas of the credit union.
Credit unions find their strength in a shared commitment to helping their members and a willingness to collaborate not often found in other industries. Our ability to train and instill those values into a future generation of leaders will be paramount to continued success.
Aaron Goettel is a mortgage loan closer at $9 billion Ent Credit Union, Colorado Springs, and a graduate of Ent’s first EntRANCE group, the CU’s new lending training program that started in January 2019.