With nearly 40 years of experience in the lending industry, I’ve learned quite a bit about adapting to unexpected challenges and using adversity as an opportunity to grow.
I have been at UMB Bank for more than eight years in the consumer lending product space and have had the opportunity to partner with some great leaders to implement change within our product set and in our communities. I am excited to share the lessons I have learned throughout my career and the innovation we are employing in the consumer lending space for our community members that need it the most.
Listen to Leisa on the Leaders in Lending podast
Embrace opportunities outside of your comfort zone
Early in my career, I received advice to take every opportunity to learn something new and every chance to embrace something out of your comfort zone. In my first job out of college, I worked as an administrative assistant for a consumer finance company. This initial entry into the workforce grew into a promotion to branch manager in a major metropolitan city in the south – the first woman to hold this position in the region for that company. At the time, this opportunity seemed larger than what I ever imagined I could do, but I was lucky to have the right leaders who saw potential in me and allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible.
Gain credibility and use your influence
Just as it is important to have leaders that believe in you, it is important to believe in yourself and your ability to bring about change and innovation in your role. Leaders in my own life have taught me the fastest way to drive change is to gain credibility and use your influence. I have found you gain credibility through hard work and showing your peers you are willing to get in the trenches and work alongside them to learn tough lessons and overcome challenges. Then, once you have that credibility, you can use your influence to share your vision for change, while also learning from the experiences and perspectives of your colleagues.
Innovation is key
Over the years I have learned that, in the lending industry, it is essential to constantly be thinking of ways to learn, improve and innovate for the betterment of your communities, customers and stockholders. Innovation is an opportunity to better serve those around you. I have seen how customers are evolving and it is important that lenders evolve alongside them. Now is the time to be willing to change processes and learn from experts in other fields like financial technology.
See everyone in your community
During my time at UMB, I have had the opportunity to work alongside exceptional individuals. Lately, we’ve seen how a historic rise in housing prices and the lack of inventory in the affordable home space is making home ownership unrealistic for many, and we felt it was our responsibility as an institution to step into that need. We launched our down payment assistance program, which helps homebuyers achieve their dreams of homeownership through either a grant or down payment assistance.
We are very proud to have funded more than 200 loans for different families across our communities in securing their first home and supporting these homebuyers with more than $2 million grant funds as of fall 2022. This was all made possible through teamwork, recognizing the state of the housing market and using it as an opportunity to learn and better serve all the individuals in our community.
If my nearly four decades in the lending industry have taught me anything, it is to not shy away from hard work, see every challenge as an opportunity to learn, and push yourself and your team to find new ways to help those in your communities that need it the most.
Listen to Leisa’s podcast here‡. To learn more about UMB and our connections to the communities we serve, visit our community involvement page and follow us on Facebook‡ and LinkedIn‡.
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