Executive Spotlight: Kendall Garrison

Kendall Garrison, CEO of Amplify Credit Union

Q: What led you to the credit union sector, and to Amplify Credit Union?

A: I was recruited to come to Amplify to manage the loan administration function after spending the first 30 years of my career with a community bank or a mortgage banker. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the credit union model gave me the opportunity to do what I knew best—financial services—and do it for the right reason: improving the financial lives of our members.

Q: What’s your leadership style?

A: Inclusive and transparent. We believe in the concept of radical transparency and encourage our team to learn as much as possible about how we operate our business or meet our long-term initiatives. It’s my job to set the tone and model that level of transparency throughout the organization.

Q: How do you lead an engaged team?

A: That’s pretty simple. We are deeply dedicated to our core values which are Service First, Growth Oriented, Quality Driven and Future Focused. My job is to keep the organization focused on those values to guide all our decision making. I realize that I accomplish nothing on my own and it is only through the work of the entire team that Amplify achieves success. My leadership moments happen when I remove the obstacles or roadblocks for individuals and teams and give them the opportunity to thrive.

Q: Why is community service and philanthropy important to you and Amplify?

A: One of the eight cooperative principles and the one that resonates loudly at Amplify is care and concern for our community. Our major economic engine is real estate finance and several years ago, we introduced our Safe Place to Call Home initiative, which works to improve the lives of those experiencing homelessness in our community. In our day job, we provide a safe place for members’ money and great loans for their home. We use the proceeds from that to create a safe place to call home for those without.

Q: Amplify recently made the move to eliminate all banking fees from deposit products, what led to this decision?

A: This started a couple of years ago, really as a throw-away idea. That idea—“wouldn’t it be cool if we could eliminate all banking fees?”—was immediately met with skepticism by several team members who felt that was just not the way banking works. Of course, we quickly realized that banking fees are primarily a burden on those who can least afford it, and our team soon came together around the idea that this was the right thing to do for our community and for our members. Obviously, this decision is a one-way door. We spent a lot of time understanding the behavior of our members and general consumers to ensure we could forgo punitive income that’s not beneficial to the member in any way.