LCO Financial Services Rapidly Becoming Huge Success Story for the Tribe
By Joe Morey
LCO Tribal Governing Board Member (TGB) and LCO Financial Services (FS) Board Chairman Tweed Shuman recently reported the tribal enterprise is experiencing rapid growth, more so than anyone could have predicted two years ago. He is referring to a time prior to the hiring of the current LCO FS Chief Executive Officer, Scott Soli, who Shuman credits with the exponential growth.
Soli was hired by the TGB in February of 2020 and at the time LCO FS was operating one portfolio which the Tribe only owned a percentage. Shuman said in one year Soli negotiated a much higher percentage of ownership and launched our own portfolio with 100% ownership. In addition, a third portfolio is also being launched.
In a short amount of time, “We’ve made great strides in increasing income for the Tribe, opening new opportunities for tribal members, and ensuring that any legal liability is minimized by demonstrating operational and financial control,” Soli told LCO News. “For FY 2020 Financial Services provided an estimated $11.6 million to the economic aid of the tribe in the form of Distributions, Payroll, and New Portfolio capital among other things.”
Soli explained FS committed to an increase of 33% in additional distributions to the Tribe in 2021 while continuing to build the Tribe’s own portfolio.
“This is historic not only for the Tribe but for all Native Americans. I am not aware of another Tribe that is doing 100% of this type of lending on the reservation and not utilizing any servicers or outside investors,” Soli noted.
TGB member Don Carley stated the success of LCO FS means more distributions to the Tribe, which in turn provides more needed revenue to be used for Tribal Member services to combat health issues, alcoholism, drug abuse and for rehabilitation.
“This has the potential to provide economic development to our Tribe like never before,” Carley noted. “This may finally provide much needed health care for our Elders, especially for home health care and our own facilities so they can stay here at home. LCO FS revenues have the potential to help build a new clinic and a new wellness center. I’d also like to see these funds help with college scholarships or help our members who would like to attend trade schools.”
Carley explained that the current TGB oversees the success of the operation and with their support, “We were able to expand to two portfolios, which will generate more revenue. This has truly been a team effort under the leadership of Soli.”
Lee Harden, FS Chief Operations Officer, who works directly below Soli also gives a lot of credit to Soli for the company’s success. He delivered a list of accomplishments at FS since Soli took over, which included repairing relations between staff members by giving them all new tasks that brought out the best of their skills instead of infighting about what and how things should be done;
Taught the executive management staff higher level financial and technical skills they wouldn’t have acquired elsewhere;
Put bonus plans in place for front-line workers that inspired them to strive beyond what they were capable of;
Renegotiated the portfolios so that FS saw an approximate 12x increase in monthly net income to the Tribe;
Utilized flexibility within our policies creating a critical path for dozens of young tribal members who struggle to keep their job while sorting out personal trauma.
Harden noted that for the first time in his 20 years working for the Tribe, “I’ve witnessed young people overcome their difficulties and stand on their own two feet. They need encouragement and recognition, not firing.”
Harden said the young workers at FS are learning what really matters, how to serve, when to act appropriately and most of all, the benefits of self-discipline.
Harden said the current projected growth could easily double or triple and beyond in just a few years-time.
“We owe all this economic growth to the leadership of LCO FS and all the hardworking employees and managers,” stated Shuman. “We are definitely grateful and thankful for the forward thinking of the team that Soli has put in place.”
Currently, Financial Services has 75 team members more than doubling since Soli took over. He notes this is a year over year growth rate of 115%.
“Due to our continued growth we recently leased the remaining portion of our building and installed an additional 40 seat call center,” stated Soli. “This means that by this time next year Financial Services expects to have well over 100 team members. We are actively looking for skilled and entry level applicants to become part of this growing Tribal business. Our team members are very productive, very well managed, and most importantly very happy to work for Financial Services.”
Soli said anyone interested in working at LCO FS should check out the website at LCOfinancial.com
“There is lots of great info about Financial Services and our Team Members. Be sure to check our podcasts that are hosted by Cameron Quaderer, he interviews team members to provide an insight to what goes on inside financial services,” Soli said.
In an LCO News article last summer, Cortney McShane, Call Center Manager, said when Soli came on board February 10, he gave the agents an opportunity when he arranged for LCO to do all collections rather than just certain collections. She said at the same time, Soli also gave the agents an opportunity to get bonuses based on 10% of their net collections.
“With these changes we’ve doubled what we were collecting.” McShane said.
Diane Taylor, a Call Center agent, explained she has been employed at FS for over three years and has never been so excited about her job with the bonuses and incentives.
“We’ll work through our breaks. I work through mine because I want to bring in as much as I can,” Taylor stated. “My bonuses have been really well.”
Taylor said she can make more through her bonuses than her regular wage. Call Center agents start at $14 hourly for first shift and $15 hourly for second shift.
Soli said as the Call Center agents continue to work as hard as they have been, FS will continue to expand. In addition to the bonuses they receive, Soli said one incentive that has been working really well is for each day an employee arrives to work on time, they get a ticket into a monthly drawing. They do two random draws at the end of the month for a prize. Past prizes have included 5-piece outdoor furniture set and a 44-inch fire pit, a gazebo and a 55-inch TV.
“I love my work since Scott came. I love my work and I enjoy it. It’s changed so much,” explained Diane Taylor.
Human Resources Director, Amber Riedell, said all the employees at FS work well together and understand each other. “We’re like a family here. All the executives’ doors are always open and anyone can come in and talk to us. We all work well as a team and work together to get things done.”
For every eight to ten Call Center agents, there is a Team Leader who works with those agents. Adele White is one of those Team Leaders. She said it’s a great place to work with full benefits and a great starting pay, bonuses and incentives.
“The more you produce, the more you earn,” White said. “Management has really focused on employees individually. If you have any personal issues, they try to work with you. That’s how it was for me. Scott made some changes that have really pushed the agents to make more. We’ve done things that we didn’t even think were possible,” White stated.
Madilyne Duffy said she loves working at FS, stating, “I like the incentives. If you do well, you get rewarded,”
Duffy explained one incentive they call Power Hour. They will randomly announce whoever does the most collections of the next hour will get rewarded.
“I’ve never had a job that has so many rewards and incentives,” Duffy stated.
In closing, Shuman reflected on the evidence-based Harvard study, Sovereignty and Nation Building, in securing the economic success of this Tribal business, by quoting from the study, “Tribal governments have to be able to separate politics from day-to-day business decisions. When politics gets involved in business operations; businesses typically either fail or become a drain on tribal resources, preventing those resources from being used to the full advantage of the tribe. When it comes to running businesses, we need to find the best business people available, people who know how to make businesses succeed and become lasting sources of income, jobs, and productive livelihood.”