Zach Hancock is the Senior Consumer Loan Officer at Marine Credit Union (MCU). He explained that he works with loans and finds ways to help members save money. But that is not all of what Zach does. After serving an MCU member who was previously incarcerated and having financial difficulties, Zach, who is also a certified financial coach, helped the member raise his credit score and reach his financial goals. Motivated by his passion to serve, Zach reached out to the MCU Senior Financial Literacy Counselor and the MCU Foundation with an idea. Soon after, as a joint venture with Western Technical College Project Proven, Zach now goes into local jails to teach financial wellness to the incarcerated. “Finance,” Zach said, “is the largest stressor and connected to almost every aspect of life.”
Teaching financial wellness to the incarcerated, Zach shared, is the favorite thing he’s done so far during his time at MCU. The curriculum is taught during one and half-hour sessions, once a week, and runs for 13 weeks ending with an exam. The course focuses on helping students understand how to manage money, managing debt and save. Participants of the financial wellness program also receive college credit for completing the program.
Where does this passion to serve come from? Zach shared that his parents were foster care providers, who mostly took in at-risk teenagers and special needs children. He said his parents gave the foster-children the option to be adopted. He said it was challenging at times, growing up in that environment, but once he grew up and “looked back” he saw how incredible his parents were – being there for all those other children.
Zach also shared the tragic story of his aunt, a single mom who struggled to pay her bills. This aunt, he shared, took her own life and in the note she left, several times, wrote about her financial struggles.
Zach has been with MCU for just over two years now. He did not set out to be a financial counselor and loan officer. He went to school for business management, political science and legal studies and worked as a private investigator. Zach planned to eventually go to law school. This background, he shared, was part of what gave him hope in the idea of helping to reform the incarcerated. “Incarceration shouldn’t be about punishment but of reform,” he shared.
Zach grew up in Mindoro, Wisconsin and graduated from Melrose-Mindoro High School. After high school Zach served his country completing one term in the United States Marine Corps, working on airframes and hydraulics of Hooeys and Cobras at Camp Pendleton, California. He said his time in the Marine Corps gave him confidence and was a stepping-stone. He shared that although he didn’t plan a career in finance, he “fell in love” with his work and enjoys the creative aspects of structuring loans for MCU members.
“I lend with my heart on my sleeve,” Zach shared. “So many just need guidance.”
You must have “heart in lending,” Zach continued. “You have to look at the story behind the credit and understand that people have stories.” Zach aligns himself with MCU’s mission to, “advance the lives of people from a place of financial need to a life of ownership and giving back.”
Zach and his partner Bill live in the La Crosse area and have two adult cats and a five-week-old kitten. Although many employees at MCU started and continue to work remotely from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Zach said he enjoys going in to work every day. “I love my cats, but need human connection,” he said with a smile.