Soar Financially: Employee Spotlight

by Spero Financial

Meet Mackenzie! A reading and crafting fanatic, a true crime podcast binge listener, an invaluable member of Team Spero, and most recently, a Certified Financial Counselor… and these are just to name a few. We had the opportunity to sit down with Mackenzie to learn more about her role, what she enjoys most about serving our members, and best yet, what it means to be a Certified Financial Counselor.

Mackenzie Parks joined Team Spero as a Member Service Specialist in August 2017. She’s changed roles in the organization since then – becoming a Lending Service Specialist in 2018 and now NEST Specialist. Her favorite part of the role is serving members from all ten branches through the NEST virtual assistance technology.

Over her time with Spero, she’s had the opportunity to help our members with banking transactions, opening accounts, getting loans, and much more. But the most rewarding part of her job has been helping members achieve their money goals.

In her own words, “I’ve had the pleasure of helping members from no credit or lower-tiered credit set a budget and plan for upcoming purchases such as a car, vacation, or even Christmas expenses…” She continued, sharing about a specific member that frequently visited her at the Mills Avenue branch to talk about money habits and how she could improve them.

“At the time, this member was working hard and making good money but still living paycheck-to-paycheck. She couldn’t understand why her bank account didn’t reflect it. She asked what to bring to our appointment. I remember saying, ‘Just bring it all. We’ll sort through it together.’ We met for a few hours. We laughed, we cried, and eventually, we got her organized. She hugged me when we wer done and promised to come in every other week to let me know how it was going… After a year, the member had enough money in her checking and savings accounts to set up a share-secured loan to boost her credit score. I talked to her a few months ago about doing a third consecutive loan. If this were the only success story from my career, it would be worth it!”

But luckily for Mackenzie, this is not the only success story. She’s helped many other members and will continue to do so, especially now as a Certified Financial Counselor!

Mackenzie recently joined Spero’s team of Certified Financial Counselors, undergoing a six-week program through the Credit Union National Association (CUNA). She, along with 9 others, completed course webinars, weekly study groups, and a rigorous reading regime to prepare them for the 2-hour certification test. The program expanded her knowledge of financial scenarios – like taxes and insurance – equipping her with more tools and resources to serve our members. When asked what she found most interesting about the program, she noted that she enjoyed learning how to phrase recommendations in a way that sounded less robotic and more human – especially considering everyone’s financial situation is unique.

We’re so appreciative of Mackenzie and the help that she gives our members on a daily basis! We’ll leave you with a piece of financial advice Mackenzie always shares, “Trust yourself. Stand firm in your decisions – especially those regarding personal finances. You know what is best for you. Now is always a good time to start!”

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