Redwood Credit Union adds chief lender role

SANTA ROSA -- Redwood Credit Union has expanded its executive leadership amid rising demand for both business and consumer loans.

[caption id="attachment_77303" align="alignright" width="293"] Cynthia Negri, Ron Felder[/caption]

Longtime employee Cynthia Negri was promoted to the newly created position of chief lending officer. Beginning last week, she oversees business and retail lending programs.

The plan to create a new C-level position to oversee lending programs at Redwood Credit Union has been in the works for some time, propelled by the increased demand for financing in an improving economy and the launch of a number of new loan products, said Brett Martinez, president and chief executive.

"We knew the needs going into the recession and the needs going out of the recession were going to be very different," he said. "We're seeing growth across all areas of lending."

Redwood Credit Union had $1.5 billion in loans as of June 30, up more than 2 percent from the prior quarter and up 4.2 percent from the past 12 months, according to its most recent filing with the National Credit Union Administration. The number of loans in the institution's portfolio was up 3.2 percent from a year before.

New loan programs include a web-based lending platform for consumer lending and a solar photovoltaic--specific loan program developed in partnership with regional solar installers, according to Mr. Martinez.

The lender is also looking at launching a program that allows merchants to administer Redwood Credit Union loans on site -- similar to a loan at an auto dealership -- and new microloan programs, according to Ms. Negri.

"It's really to make sure we're meeting the needs of all of our members, in all facets of their life," Ms. Negri said.

Both Ms. Negri and Mr. Martinez credited Redwood Credit Union's expansion of various financial literacy programs during the recession for the growing demand for loans.

"We're really optimistic about the future in general. The borrowing strength of our members is improving," Ms. Negri said.

On the commercial side, loan growth in the first six months of 2013 was at an all-time high, said Michael Downey, senior vice president of business services.

"There are a variety of industries driving demand," he said. "We are currently seeing strong demand from hospitality, manufacturing and the auto services industries. We are receiving increased requests for business lines of credit, equipment financing and working-capital loans."

Most recently, Ms. Negri was senior vice president of retail lending at the $2.2 billion-in-assets Santa Rosa-based lender, having spent 16 years in various leadership roles there.

Hired to assume her former role is Ron Felder, most recently chief credit officer at Patelco Credit Union, which reported $3.9 billion in assets. He is a member of the Credit Union National Association's lending council.

Redwood Credit Union has also been working to expand its technology offerings in recent years, including a mobile banking platform that was recently updated with remote check-deposit functionality and further-enhanced web-based loan platforms.

"We strive to provide our members with a best-in-class borrowing experience that allows them to apply for and receive a loan whenever and wherever they choose -- whether that's through a branch, online or mobile device," Mr. Felder said.

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