Joshua Russell works as the Marine Credit Union (MCU) Consumer Lending Market Manager in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His team, he shared, helps with MCU members’ financial needs through not only loans, but also offers members opportunities and education about finances. “It’s not just about closing a deal,” he said.
“It’s been a journey,” Joshua admitted about his career path. Joshua started in banking, being referred by someone he trusts from one bank to another and eventually MCU in 2019. “The buck stops here,” he said. “God orders our steps and everything we do. MCU aligns with how I like to help people – empower people. We help people take control of their finances.”
“When we don’t know where to go,” Joshua said, “sometimes we get subjected to higher interest rates.” He tells his team, “We are the financial experts,” and said his team works hard at analyzing members’ “whole financial picture.” By doing so they can, often, offer opportunities to help with their financial struggles and help them to feel empowered. “There is always something we can do,” Joshua added, “even financial literacy.”
Joshua said he appreciates the mission of MCU to empower people so that they can give back to the community. “We are not just putting a face out there,” Joshua continued and said that he believes in the MCU’s core values of compassion, collaboration, commitment and courage and its mission. Joshua shows up teaching financial literacy not only to members he works with, but also to youth. “Younger people don’t have a grasp of financial literacy until it’s too late,” he said.
“It’s true with African American children,” he continued. “Some parents don’t have a strong level of education and a lack of trust in banking … passed down through generations.” But, he said, “Times have changed. We want you to become educated.” He said it’s important to have early exposure to financial wellness to be able to pass it down to future generations.
“They want to do it differently,” he added of those struggling financially, but might not be aware of resources that are available to help them do things differently. “Awareness of where one’s mindset is,” Joshua explained, is an important key to financial success. As an example, he said, to be able to transition to not being impulsive and being a saver.
“Younger people are eager and anxious to get out of their parents’ house,” Joshua explained and added that they often don’t realize it’s “not just rent and a water bill. There is gas and insurance, maintenance, the known and unknown.”
The financial literacy Joshua teaches helps youth to understand what’s coming, whether it be college or work and said he “brainstorms” with the youth he works with. Sometimes, he said with a laugh, that the youth just want parents to tell them what to do. But, he added, that teaching them financial literacy at a young age can help them make more informed decisions about things like saving, what they are spending their money on, and what their financial picture will look like in the future.
Joshua explained that during the pandemic, MCU went through a lot of internal restructuring. He said he now works with people he would have otherwise never met. “It’s really given me an opportunity to understand different demographics of the people we are serving out there.”
And he said that even during the pandemic, he still found opportunities to teach. “God will bring them to my path,” he added and said that he is optimistic that there will be more opportunities in the future to continue to teach youth financial literacy.
“My foundation is in my faith,” Joshua admitted, yet he was inspired by this both of his parents. Joshua’s father was a retirement specialist for the State of Wisconsin, working with employee trust funds. His father paid off a 30-year mortgage in 11 years and helped guide his church in paying off its mortgage in eight years. He shared that his mother, a teacher, just didn’t know about things such as contributing to a retirement account. “It was hard to find people to trust with your finances,” Joshua added. “I wanted to be that person people could trust.”
Joshua has five sons from ages 19 to 7 years old. “They keep me busy,” he shared. “Those guys are my life. They are good boys. They all know what they want to do.” Darian (19) wants to be an executive banker, Joshua JR (18) wants to be a high school coach, Evan (11) a veterinarian, Xavier (9) an architect and his youngest, Ethan (7) a professional drummer.
Joshua also volunteers on the financial committee at this church and was appointed by his bishop as an interim pastor. He’s a Cowboys fan and a self-proclaimed “homebody” who loves to spend time with his family. “I’m pretty simple. I work. I go to church. I go home,” he shared.
“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to do what I do,” he added saying he loves the leadership, the people, and the mission of MCU. “Every day we come to work and analyze what we do to see if we align with the 4Cs. MCU is willing to do anything to make their people happy. It’s people helping people. Everyone coming together to help everyone. I appreciate the MCU platform to do that on.”