George Hardiman remembers accompanying his father to the local credit union as a boy and perceiving it as a force for good in the community.
“I always had a fondness for credit unions and through personal experience I know that they are helpful to people in times of need,” said Hardiman, CEO of Tremont Credit Union in Braintree. “I believe credit unions help a lot of people who might not otherwise get the help they need.”
In 2010, Hardiman was a rank-and-file member of Braintree-based Tremont Credit Union when the Massachusetts Division of Banks stepped in and demanded a change of leadership. Hardiman, a Quincy attorney, volunteered to serve on the newly-elected board of directors. The group, which included current Gov. Charlie Baker, met up to 20 hours a month without pay for nearly two years as it reformed the institution’s management and operations.
Hardiman emerged as a natural leader of the newly-constituted board, said Gary Fishlock, who had taken over as Tremont’s interim president and CEO in 2010. Hardiman’s background in law and securities enforcement was a natural strength, but his personal style was just as important to stabilizing Tremont’s management, Fishlock said.
“He just had a very calming effect,” said Fishlock.
Hardiman said he took a collaborative approach to the chairman’s role, relying on his management team and fellow board members to take part in decisions about the organization’s future.
“As chairman, I worked together with the board to put together a good team of people with deep expertise in their various disciplines,” he said.
After two years, directors asked Hardiman if he’d be interested in taking over the CEO’s role. The decision meant a career change for Hardiman, a long-time attorney who has worked both in the public and private sectors.
He began his career as a prosecutor with the Suffolk County district attorney’s office and went on to become a litigator with the Office of Secretary of State, prosecuting misconduct by financial advisors and stockbrokers. He later went into private practice in Quincy, with a specialty in defending financial crimes.
The transition from volunteer board chairman to full-time CEO has been a drastic change in role. Hardiman has been responsible for implementing reforms including a new compliance team, updating the credit union’s image with a rebranding campaign and new logo, and launching a new online banking platform and mobile app. The investments have taken place while the credit union has maintained a capital ratio of 12 percent, a sign of its financial stability.
“We are proud of our progress,” he said. “We have addressed many big-ticket items, and we’re very happy to have progressed as we have while also maintaining a capital ratio above 12 percent.”
Keeping in line with his early perception of the credit union industry, Hardiman said Tremont is committed to helping members by offering flexible terms on a variety of loans.
“We are designated a low income credit union and we try to be active in the communities we serve,” he said. “In that vein we lend more aggressively in the lower tier credit scores than most of our peers. We have had success with this lending due in large part to the fact that our members are very loyal, and we’re able to help them with unsecured personal loans they may not get elsewhere.”