Brent E. Lister, First Florida Credit Union

From the outset of his career, Brent Lister embraced a piece of advice from his mentor: the path to success is self-driven. This meant that personal growth should be based on performance, skill and contribution to the company, not merely on tenure. This guiding principle has been a cornerstone of Lister’s leadership philosophy, reflected in his approach to nurturing talent and recognizing individual contributions within his organization. His success in the credit union industry has been defined by resilience, innovation and an unwavering commitment to employee satisfaction and customer-centric services.

At the age of 28, Lister embarked on his inaugural CEO role at a small credit union—a bold move that laid the foundation for his future endeavors. Years later, while seeking a transition from a Chief Operating Officer (COO) role back to a CEO position, Brent found an opening in Jacksonville, Florida that aligned with his aspirations, eventually becoming the President and CEO of First Florida Credit Union (FFCU).

Understanding consumer needs and staying agile have been focal points for Lister, who firmly believes that a credit union’s success hinges on its staff and culture. He places utmost importance on employee satisfaction, recognizing the correlation between happy employees and satisfied customers. Under his leadership, FFCU has flourished as an employee-friendly workplace, creating a strong culture, growth opportunities and offering robust benefits, such as free personal finance planning to employees.

Lister’s appreciation for credit unions lies in their inherent focus on local communities, allowing for a more personalized connection. A defining feature of FFCU is its strong rapport with members, evident in the substantial wallet share—averaging over $29,000 per member, which is notably higher than industry averages. He attributes this success to his employees and their ability to build lasting relationships with members.  

Being a leader in the financial industry certainly comes with challenges. The economic downturn of 2007-2008 and the headwinds created by COVID-19 are the two biggest hurdles Lister has faced as a leader. Yet, during these times, he maintained a proactive stance, emphasizing the importance of resiliency and adaptability in the face of rapidly evolving consumer demands. 

Under his guidance, FFCU’s emphasis on adopting and utilizing emerging technology is not just talk. The organization was an early adopter of remote deposit capabilities, adding flexibility to how members can do their banking. FFCU is also using AI in call centers for quality control and training, further showing a steadfast commitment to delivering quality, reliability and innovation through technology.

Ultimately, Lister aspires to transcend beyond leading a successful credit union; he aims to be remembered as a leader who fostered an engaging and enjoyable work environment. He wants people to view him as someone who is fun to work with and be a leader that left the organization better than when he arrived. He embodies the ethos of thriving—ensuring that his employees embrace work, not just as a responsibility but as a fulfilling and enjoyable experience.

If you get the opportunity to work with Brent Lister, it is easy to see why he and FFCU have experienced success. His visionary leadership is marked by unwavering dedication to staff and member satisfaction and a commitment to shaping a robust future for the credit union industry. His legacy stands as a testament to his passion, integrity and transformative leadership.