Meet Brian Aalbers
Branch Manager, Libro Financial Group
London, Ontario, Canada
Brian Aalbers, branch manager of Libro Financial Group in Ontario, Canada, has led several key initiatives to increase sales and awareness at Libro's London branch since he started there in 2006. In 2012, Aalbers was named one of five World Council Young Credit Union People (WYCUP) scholarship winners.
Aalbers has organized seminars targeted toward small businesses and focused on sales tax for his community and led a campaign to introduce young people to the credit union movement at local events. As part of Libro's social media committee, he maintained a blog promoting credit union benefits and advice for business owners to enhance Libro's mobile and online presence. Aalber's management style helped his previous branch's total portfolio nearly triple over five years.
He currently heads an 18-member team focused on providing excellent member service through education and support to help Libro and its members achieve financial success.
In addition to his work at Libro, Aalbers is an active volunteer in his community. He reviews financial statements and assists with a community meal program at a local church, and he is a member of the London Home Builders Association and London Chamber of Commerce.
We asked Aalbers for insights into his success and how Libro Financial Group is tackling current challenges.
What are your roles and responsibilities at your credit union?
As a branch manager, I am in a leadership position that has responsibility for all aspects of the branch. From coaching staff to succeed, monitoring branch sales and growth and managing revenue and expenses, it is my job to ensure the branch is financially successful. I also have a responsibility to inspire and motivate the team to achieve these goals and targets while ensuring our member service experience and staffing experience is truly exceptional. Finally, it is my mandate to promote the well-being of the community our branch serves through dedicated community support and volunteerism.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing your credit union?
The biggest challenge I see within our credit union is ensuring the next generation understands the integral roles that credit unions and co-operatives play in the economy. The next generation is one that really understands the importance of local communities and staying involved — and credit unions fit that perfectly. We need to think creatively to ensure the credit union voice is readily accessible to them — especially when they don't necessarily think and communicate as we have seen in the past.
How are you trying to overcome these obstacles?
Libro Financial Group puts a strong focus on attracting youth through specific marketing, free services, youth advisory panels, youth camps and their very active Community Builder Grant Program. All of these objectives look to empower youth to "own their lives" and become leaders themselves.
Who has been your greatest role model?
My greatest role models would be my parents and my two-year-old son, James. My parents for showing me that, despite its great challenges, you can never compromise your values. For my son, even in his short one-year lifespan, he has shown me that everyday can be started with a smile — his (very) early morning enthusiasm is contagious!
Where do you find inspiration?
Seeing the impact that Libro has with our owners. I have been blessed enough to work here for the last six years, and within that time frame you see so many excellent examples of what can happen when credit unions partner with motivated members. From helping businesses grow, to assisting people in becoming debt-free, to seeing homes being built from grant programs — it is rather incredible.
What advice would you give to other young credit union professionals?Put a great deal of effort into knowing yourself — your morals, passions and especially how to achieve collaborative success within your organization and community. Once that is done, work hard, harder than you ever thought you could, to help others accomplish the same.
How has winning a WYCUP scholarship enabled you to achieve your personal and professional goals?
Winning the WYCUP scholarship was quite an amazing experience — one that will stay with me throughout my professional career. It was inspiring to be amongst such a diverse group of motivated credit union supporters — people who were determined to push the agenda. This scholarship gives me confidence and even more motivation to create an impact among those around me!
To learn more about the WYCUP program and how you can apply or nominate someone, visit http://www.woccu.org/involved/wycup.