Brought to you by:


DigitalMailer - Click to visit our website

Credit Union Journal - Click to visit our website


Our Blog Roll

The Financial Brand
Snarketing 2.0
The Filene Blogs
CreditUnions.com
CU Water Cooler
CU Insight
The Members Group

Resources

Meet the Moderator
Keep It Clean
About Guest Authors

124 posts categorized "Credit Unions"

April 08, 2014

From Now On, I'm Paying for Everything with Snow Tires.

ShareThis

by Ron Daly

I was browsing through creditunions.com when I came across this story about a young man (or woman?) who is using GameStop as his bank. He buys video games in advance of their release with his paycheck, sells back the hold credit when he needs cash, and keeps the cycle going. GameStop holds his money, gives a little back, and affords him all the benefits of membership, including "exclusive content". 

I'm not a video gamer, so all the "pre-order" and "exclusive content" talk doesn't mean much to me. But I get what he's going for, and I love it! Gee, why didn't I consider that before now? I'm getting in on the action. I want to buy a few things on order and just hang on to them until I need their cash equivalent. Let's see, what's something I wouldn't mind having around the house or garage?

I got it! Snow tires!

It's the perfect scheme. I'm going to buy a few dozen sets of snow tires, pile them up in the garage, and return them to the manufacturer in mint condition when I'm short on cash! Who doesn't want a set of snow tires? They're so useful...when it's snowing, that is. And when it's not snowing, just put plants and stuff in them, I guess.

See? Why would anyone want to do business with a dumb old credit union or bank when we could just buy expensive things to establish an "account" with a store and then return them when we need...you know, real money.

Holy smokes...I think I just figured out how to make this thing even more simple. I'm just going to pay for things in snow tires! Naturally, everyone will accept snow tires. They'll have to invent new ATMs that dispense snow tires! The value depreciates a bit in the summer, but come the first blizzard this winter I'll be a rich man!

...Oh, wait, never mind. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

We invented money because bartering is too hard. We invented deposit accounts so that your flimsy money had a place to stay safe, outside your home and not on your person. We invented deposit insurance to hedge our bets and to ensure that people's money would be safe. We invented ATMs so you could get the money quickly and debit so you didn't have to use cash and chip-and-PIN so you didn't have to worry about swiping away your identity. We keep improving this system by adding both security and convenience. Sure, you can quibble about inflation and bitcoin and Tetris and Mario, but we've got a good thing going here. Why would anyone opt-out?

The article I mentioned above outlines a few reasons why this misguided gamer might take a different approach to his finances.

This consumer expects branches to stay open later, he wants shorter lines, and he wants low to nonexistant fees. Many credit unions meet these demands, it's just a matter of informing the public. Financial education and community outreach are pillars of the credit union way, this poster is a prime example of a disenfranchised member who needs to be shown the light. With alternatives abound, awareness of the credit union and its connection to community is all the more important.

How strange that, in a world where you can search for anything with a few taps on a smart phone, this guy still couldn't find a credit union or bank that suited all his needs. Is it a failure of branding, of advertising, or of the system at large? Is distrust in and distaste with banks so prevalent that people will trust their hard-earned money to their favorite brands for safekeeping?

Until this guy gets a "no more sell-backs" notice, I'm guessing he'll keep at it. But good luck paying for an emergency car repair or an expensive bill with a bunch of X-Box games.

And I don't think I'm going to switch all my money over snow tires after all. I like my money like I like my history museums: government funded, easily accessible and full of pictures of bygone presidents.

February 19, 2014

What I've Learned About Shoveling

ShareThis

by Ron Daly

If you've ignored every media outlet for the past week, you might not know that we've had a lot of snow in the DC Metro area. With a foot or more of snow comes the fun of sledding and snowmen...and the un-fun of shoveling.

The main roads get plowed and the sub-streets get plowed. My driveway, on the other hand, is entirely up to me. A cubic foot of snow weighs (roughly) ten pounds. Given the dimensions of my driveway, I was throwing around about 250 pounds over the course of a few hours. My aching back can vouch for me.

Here's what I've learned about shoveling: it's a pain in the butt. It makes you sore and tired and you can't really make a dent unless you have a few hours to spare. If you don't want to shovel, you have a few options:

1) A bigger, better shovel - My older snow shovel is nothing compared to my neighbor's. His has a weird curve that makes it easier on your back and shoulders. He paid a little more but he's done in half the time. 

2) A snowblower - I could theoretically get a snow blower and cut my workload by 90%. The problem there is that I don't get enough snow to justify the cost and I don't really have the room.

3) Outsource - I could hire guys to come shovel my driveway and walkway for me but that takes, you guessed it, more money.

Those are the options, least-costly to most-costly. I'm still weighing them out based on the winter we've been having, the amount of money I'm spending on ibuprofen and the room I have in my garage for more stuff that only gets used once or twice every year. I can only imagine how friends of mine who live in Wisconsin or Minnesota or Michigan are dealing with all this snow. Their cost-analysis spreadsheet looks a little different than mine because it's a problem they have to deal with a lot more frequently. 

One thing is clear to me: "do nothing" is out of the question. If I just decide to wait out the spring to melt the snow, everything will halt. We won't be able to drive to work or get our kid to her swim class. We won't be able to go to the store or invite people over to our home. We're stuck if I don't do something. I can't put the lives of everyone in my family on hold while I wait for the snow to melt.

When spring comes and the time is right, I'll make my move. But for now, I shovel. 

Want to know what else I learned about shoveling? It's a pretty good metaphor for the work we do in the credit union industry. Every day, people come to us looking for answers. We provide: 

  1. Information, so they can make informed decisions
  2. Enticement, so they know what we have to offer and see the value of same, and
  3. Services, so they can live their lives more fully with less hassle.

The tools are out there to provide all three. We can inform potential members, serve existing members and market more effectively to both. The tools exist and the methods exist. At DigitalMailer, we have clients that just need a "better shovel" - dependable technology that can handle small volume. Some clients opt for the "snowblower" - technology that can handle complicated tasks with ease and not much input. Others need manpower and consultation to get things done and to deal with the high volume of members. Different strokes for different folks, but they're all here because the small shovel wasn't moving the snow quickly and effectively.

The more members and potential members accumulate, the more we need to do something. We can do it ourselves with the tools we have but if the tools fall short, we need to either improve, upgrade or outsource. 

We can't afford to do nothing.

 

January 28, 2014

The State of Credit Unions in 2014, As Predicted by The "Crystal Ball" of Google

ShareThis

by Ron Daly

Let's face it - Googling stuff is fun. It has been from the very beginning and it's still a hoot.

Sometimes, Google can show you the future. I decided to put Google's "crystal ball" capabilities to the test and see what 2014 had in store for the industry. I simply put

  • "In 2014, credit unions will *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions must *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions should *"

into the search bar and hit return. And voila! all the interesting tidbits about what the industry should focus on this year. Some highlights: 

"[Credit Unions] must focus on enhancing members’ cross-channel experiences, says Belinda Caillouet, chair of the CUNA Technology Council..."

"Charting Your Course Through 2014", creditunionsmagazine.com

Agreed. Members are leaning hard on technology and demanding more channels that work well with one another. That includes mobile apps, online banking and ATM/branch services that all play well together and stay up-to-date and easy-to-use.

"Financial marketers will be accountable for analyzing the real results of content marketing strategies in 2014. Because every channel ultimately affects all of the others, attribution modeling allows marketers to credit a specific ad or touch point along a sales funnel rather than just the last material viewed or clicked."

"Digital Marketing Trends for Banks and Credit Unions in 2014", TheFinancialBrand.com

Yep, right on the money. The technology we're using to sell to members is getting better and we can start making sense of data and offering products and services that make the most sense for each individual member.

“In the next 12 months, mobile will overtake online in terms of number of users. It already has more transactions."

"5 Mobile Trends to Watch in 2014", cutimes.com

I'll be interested to see the outcome of this one. Mobile's a big part of people's lives, but can credit unions rise to that challenge and create great mobile app experiences in the space of a year? A year, mind you, that's already down to eleven months as of Saturday of this week?

"In 2014, the trusted role of banks and credit unions as the collector of funds, provider of loans, processor of payments and advisor of financial relationships will continue to come under fire from non-traditional players including new financial organizations (neobanks), hardware providers, third party payment processors, and mobile app developers that merchants and consumers are using to chip away at the traditional financial services model."

"Top Ten Banking Trends for 2014", bai.org

More sharks in a still-pretty-small tank? This is the moment CUs have been waiting for — the moment to set themselves apart from the upstarts and prove they can be valued, trusted financial partners by offering sensible services and can't-be-beat member interactions.

"To experience loan growth in 2014, credit unions will need to originate significantly more consumer loans to offset the expected declines in mortgage originations."

"Marketing Overview and Data Report", catalyststrategic.org

I'm really curious about what kinds of loans credit unions will be promoting in place of mortgages (assuming they cut back on mortgage promotions, which some won't). Credit cards? Student loans? Where's the "heat" in lending in 2014?

“Looking ahead to 2014, credit unions can expect to see the CFPB expand its fair lending focus,” said Bundy. “The CFPB’s regulatory agenda unmistakably signals that fair lending will be a focal point of new rule making starting in 2014.”

"CUNA Mutual Group Anticipates Broader Regulatory Focus in 2014", cunamutual.com

"...The CFPB has the luxury in 2014 to move on to topics other than mortgages, such as overdraft, prepaid cards, Reg CC disclosures, and debt collection. To keep track of all of it, take advantage of various resources out there—besides NAFCU, and the CFPB, many law firms have compliance blogs and news alerts you can subscribe to for free. Knowledge is power, so grab on!"

"Credit union industry experts: What’s in store for 2014", cuinsight.com

I bundled those together for a reason: the CFPB will be stepping up its game in 2014. Credit unions will need to arm themselves with information, as mentioned in the second story. There are plenty of great resources out there, both free and paid.

Any other big predictions for this year? Leave them in the comments section.

January 02, 2014

Our Top Ten Posts of 2013

ShareThis

by Ron Daly

With 2013 in the rear-view mirror, we wanted to take a look back at the year that was. There were plenty of stories that grabbed our readers' attention, from shakeups in leadership to advances in technology to new takes on the industry and where we're going.

Take a peek back at our top ten posts of 2013:

  1. Introvert Media - What "Private" Social Networks Tell Us About the Future of Online Sharing
  2. Watch out for the eStatement Police!
  3. Just One Presentation Taught Me Five Lessons
  4. eManners: What Does "Polite" Look Like Nowadays?
  5. Filson Calls for Cooperative NCUA
  6. Have You Ever Spent $1,000 on Candy?
  7. The Cooperative Trust Changes Hands - What Does That Mean for the Future?
  8. Why Didn't WE Think Of That?
  9. The Pocket Merger: Your Phone is Becoming Your Wallet. Will Your CU Be Prepared?
  10. Let's Cut Down the Theme Song and Get to the Bar.

We're always happy to have you here at the CU Soapbox. Stay tuned in 2014 - there's plenty more to come!

December 20, 2013

The Gifts You Give in Seconds are the Best Gifts of All

ShareThis

by Ron Daly

Uh-oh, gang. I forgot to get a few gifts this year. Which is to say, all of them.

That's right, I took my own advice, skipped Black Friday, and didn't get a single present for anyone on my gift list. What on earth should I do now?!

I got it. I'll give them the Internet.

Well, no, not "the Internet". I'm just going to give my friends something digital instead of something physical. It's easier than ever to give someone a thoughtful gift that needs no wrapping, no exchanging and no batteries.

Let's start with...

• My Favorite TV Junkie: 

For the couch potato who has everything, here's a gift subscription to Netflix. Now they can watch TV all day long from any device or from the comfort of their living room.

• My Friend, The Frequent Flier:

I have friends that love to travel. Several airlines will let you buy miles for someone else. Even if you can't give them a full trip, you can take the sting out of their next outing by giving them a few thousand miles for a reasonable price.

• My Cousin, the Shop-aholic:

There are plenty of people, like my cousin, who thrill at the act of shopping more than the actual gifts on the other end. For her, an Amazon Gift Card that is applied automatically. She can shop til she drops, and in seconds.

• My Friend "Forgetful Frida"

Poor, poor Frida. She can't remember anything! That's why I treated her to Evernote Premium, a service that saves web pages, articles and images in a snap from your iPad, computer or phone. Hopefully she can use it to remember my gift.

• My neighbor, who's still not a credit union member

The poor guy...he just won't get with it! Fortunately, my credit union is offering a "refer a friend" program that gives me a bonus when he signs up. I'm adding a member to my credit union, getting $10 and helping a friend. It's a three-for-one!

• For Anyone, and For a Good Cause

This time of year, I think about our soldiers a lot. Even after they get home, they often need our help to recover, readjust and move forward. If you want to give a gift that will benefit the giver, the recipient, and a veteran, consider giving a gift to the Wounded Warrior Project. Use this form to give a gift in someone's name to this very worthy cause.

Phew! Now that my shopping's all taken care of, I can get back to my favorite holiday pastime: putting up my inflatable lawn ornaments and showing up my neighbors for our block's Christmas decoration content.

Merry Christmas from the CU Soapbox!

October 23, 2013

Just One Presentation Taught Me Five Lessons

ShareThis

by Jimmy Marks

Recently, DigitalMailer sponsored the CU Water Cooler Symposium 2013. We went to Nashville to meet lots of cool people and see so many great presentations (I made one of my own, but I'm not bragging…there was a whole lot of great stuff on that stage).

The talk that really stuck with me? One that had nothing to do with credit unions or even with the finance industry...well, not the real finance industry, but a banker is involved.

The speaker was Tim Vandenberg, a teacher from Hesperia Unified School in Victorville, California. His talk? All about Monopoly. No, not a business monopoly - the game of Monopoly.

Tim Vandenberg - Monopoly Academy: Winning the “Game” of No Child Left Behind

Tim's talk was all about his use of Monopoly to teach math to 6th graders. His approach has turned dozens and dozens of kids from below-average learners (some of them counted on their fingers) into some of the highest-scoring students in the school, and even in his district. He's a passionate guy and his work speaks for itself. The night after his presentation, however, someone pondered aloud "What did that have to do with credit unions and finance?" The more I thought about it, the more profound Tim's talk became. I realized it wrapped up five lessons every credit union should consider.

  1. Regulation is tough, but it doesn't have to be a progress-killer - Tim developed his Monopoly-themed course as a way of challenging students and raising their math scores simultaneously. His school, like many in America, was left hurting with the implementation of "No Child Left Behind", an act that has done a lot of damage to American schools by emphasizing the importance of standardized tests instead of "real learning". Tim knew that the math scores would need to increase and that students would still need an intellectual challenge. His Monopoly/Math Camp did both.
     
  2. Mary Poppins was right - A "spoonful of sugar" helps the "medicine" go down. When I was a kid, I hated math. My teachers showed our class "School House Rock" to help us learn times tables and parts of speech. Songs and stories made it a lot easier to digest. Tim's approach has taught his students many hard-to-master math concepts, such as compound interest, principle, rent and real-estate. Gamification strikes again! And this time, to the betterment of students' test scores.
     
  3. Kids aren't dumb - Young people are often dismissed in the finance industry. Tim's students learn many important concepts quickly and can stack up against adults…one story Tim shared had a local bank teller come to him in tears, telling him his children were too fast with their math. Several of his students played exhibition matches with Monopoly Grand Champions (yes, there's a Monopoly Championship) and won against them. With proper instruction, kids can learn anything. So why aren't we doing more financial education at a younger age?
     
  4. "Never trust a smile" - Tim recounted a story in which he played the game with his students and one in particular called him out for taking advantage of a trade. "Never trust a smile," he told his student - a lesson that holds a lot of value, especially in finance. Sure, a friendly demeanor may put the consumer at ease, but if they ignore the terms they could get burned in the long run.
     
  5. Monopoly doesn't last forever - Apparently, there's a "proper way" to play Monopoly and an "improper way". The proper way takes about 90 minutes; the improper way takes all day, or even a full week. I suspect from my many years playing monopoly that I've never played "the proper way". 

That's five good lessons from one simple talk. Now, consider this - what would happen if you had attended and gleaned five good lessons from every single talk, of which there were thirteen? That would be sixty-five great lessons you could take with you, back to your credit union.

Why didn't you go again? And while we're at it, why aren't you already champing at the bit to go to CUWCS 2014 in Austin, Texas?

July 31, 2013

Watch out for the eStatement Police!

ShareThis

by Ron Daly

Strangest thing happened to me. I got stopped by the eStatement Police on the way home for work the other day. They pulled me over to make sure that I could view my credit union's online electronic statements.

I was warned that there was a pretty stiff penalty if I couldn't prove that I could view the statement. Any citizen failing to prove that they could view that statement would immediately have their statements switched back to paper and, if the infraction was severe enough, they could cancel my credit union's insurance policy.

Not one to argue with an officer of the law, I quickly reached for my smartphone sitting on the console next to me and he quickly reached for his taser. Realizing that I moved to quickly to comply with his request I slowly raised my hands back to the steering wheel. As his hands came off the taser I asked if it was OK for me to reach back to my iPad in my briefcase in the back seat. With a wary nod and his hand back on the taser, he let me get the iPad. I turned on the device and prayed that I had a decent cell tower to access. Once online I hit Safari, logged into my credit union account and clicked on eStatements. Turning the screen around, I displayed my credit union statement, which seemed to instantly defuse the situation.

The officer made a note in his log and thanked me for complying with his request. Before he walked back to his car I politely asked him "what would have happened if I didn't have my smartphone or iPad to access my eStatements for him?" His response?

"We've been known to escort citizens home so they can prove, on their computers, that they weren't lying on their eStatement enrollment application." WOW!

 

What agency does the eStatement Police fall under? The U.S. Post Office? They would certainly benefit from converting everything back to paper and postage. Maybe they're some elite group of secret insurance networks? 

All I know is that they sure are a tough bunch, having to enforce a section of a law that just doesn't make sense. This is 2013 for God's sake. Even my car has internet access and can read emails and texts to me while I'm driving. Having to prove (and track) that a consumer can view an eStatement is just ridiculous but that seems to be the focus of the eStatement Police. Even if consumers enroll in your eStatements online, you still have to prove that they had the technology to view it...

DUH. 

Yet, the eStatement Police are hard at work looking for the last person on earth that can enroll in an online process and not prove that they can view an electronic statement. When they find them I've got a few old iPhones tossed in a drawer that they can have.

Don't get nabbed by the eStatement Police. Using our eStatement enrollment process gives you a "get out of jail free" card, no matter where the eStatement Police are coming from.

Please be sure to share any eStatement police story or crazy laws still on the books you've heard of in the comments section.

July 23, 2013

Today's "Don't Tax My Credit Union" Tuesday: In the Rhetoric War, Can CUs Win?

ShareThis

"Big Tuesdays" come along so rarely it's hard to remember the last one. Election Day? New Year's Day was on a Tuesday this year. Those are the two that come to mind, thus far in 2013. But according to CUNA, today is, indeed, a Big Tuesday. For today is "Don't Tax My Credit Union" Tuesday.

Don't Tax My Credit Union is CUNA's answer to an aggressive press-blitz by the ABA. Both sides are trying to sway the opinion of the public - CUNA wants members to speak up and for non-members to see that CUs are the "little guys", there to help communities and small businesses. The ABA wants the public to see credit unions as a bunch of tax cheats that are harming the economy and causing a budget shortfall.

I find it ironic that the ABA wants to paint credit unions' tax exemption as a harm to the national budget. Take a look at the ABA's "Tax Credit Unions" page:

Since 2001, credit unions have increased the deficit by not paying an estimated $20.5 billion in federal income taxes.

Wow! That's some bold text. And that's also a big dollar figure. But let's read that first part about "Since 2001". That roughs out to about $1.7 billion/year for the past twelve years.  B of A got $45 billion in bailout funds...more than double what credit unions have "not paid". What's more, B of A didn't pay any taxes in 2010 and has leveraged its many loopholes to avoid paying in the years that followed. And that's just one of the banks the ABA says isn't getting a fair deal because of the CU tax exemption. 

Is anyone else confused as to how you can pay no taxes, get a bailout, receive government subsidies, neglect small businesses and financial literacy...and complain that a group of FIs that makes up 6% of the market is hurting America?

Hold on, I'm going to go bang my head against a wall and see if it makes sense after that...

Nope, it's still a joke of a premise. And now, I have a headache. Thanks, Big Banks.

Two stories. One by credit unions, one by banks. The trillion-dollar question: who'll win out? Naturally, we'd all like to think that credit unions will protect their tax-exempt status. It shouldn't be discounted that CUNA and its credit unions are fighting a small-scale war against an organization with a warchest that is...well, larger than a lot of credit unions. Credit unions and their employees have picked up the charge, but a quick social search on the #DontTaxMyCU hashtag doesn't show a lot of average folks sharing the word...plenty of trade groups, leagues and CU accounts, but very few actual members. Do we still have a shot at getting the public on our side? 

We'd better be telling a compelling story. "We'll lose our advantage" is a bad argument to make. "We are here to help our people and boost small businesses - losing exemption will ruin both" is much better. If you have a great campaign related to Don't Tax My Credit Union, send it to CUNA so they might share. And if you care about credit unions, tell your friends, convince your family, and stand behind your CU's ability to serve your community.

Take action by contacting your legislators and telling them - "Don't Tax My Credit Union".

July 02, 2013

The (Somewhat) Fantastic Four! - 4 Quick Snippets You Can Read Before the 4th

ShareThis

by Ron Daly

Jack kirby. fantastic four

(Fantastic Four is a trademark of Marvel, Inc. and, by extension, Disney. Via this site.)

Yeah, I know - you're on auto-pilot as you cruise toward the July 4th holiday. But focus on these four quick-hit articles and you'll be informed, engaged and (hopefully) entertained.

(Somewhat) Fantastic Four, assemble!

The Invisible Girl...er, Guy, I mean.

Apparently Edward Snowden, the NSA Leaker and man-on-the-run, has had a little trouble finding asylum in the various countries he's contacted. He's written to multiple countries and embassies, looking for a way to evade the authority of the US. Many have turned him down outright, while others have implied that if Snowden wanted sanctuary in their nation, he may yet find it, but only if he can get to their embassy...which is hard to do from the inside of a Russian airport terminal. Ironic that a man whose movements have been followed so closely can't seem to get anyone to recognize him.

I only bring up Snowden because last month (before this scandal broke), I wrote a post on CU Insight about the "Human Factor" in data security. The article talks about employees who don't follow the company's rules on digital security (intentionally or inadvertently) and gives ideas on how to set up strict guidelines on protecting member information. Give it a read here.

The Ever-Evolvin' Multi-Colored Thing!

Remember those wheels that showed every social network and summed up what each did on a big, colorful wheel? Well, it's gotten much, much bigger in the past five years. The "Conversation Prism" by Brian Solis and JESS3 has grown by leaps and bounds. Compare it to the versions of years gone by - especially the 2008 version. How many of these channels is your credit union using? And how many of those are getting members' attention?

Do you have a Mr. (or Ms., or Mrs.) Fantastic?

Get them their very own trophy. Trophy Buffet will allow you to buy a trophy for your favorite person for whatever reason you like - some ridiculous, some worthwhile, all made with material you can write on and modify. Watch their goofy video and contribute to their Kickstarter if you believe that "everyone gets a trophy" is a good policy.

How to Avoid Becoming the Human Torch

And since this is the 2nd of July, it's a good time to remind everyone out there to be safe with their fireworks and barbecue grills. According to recent figures, firework-related injuries are down, even though there are still significant risks associated with the improper use of fireworks. 

What impressed me about this article? The number of people seriously injured due to barbecue grills every year...almost twice as many as those injured by fireworks. Maybe the family and I should just celebrate with cold foods this year. Chicken salad and popsicles, anyone? 

As we do every year, we wish all our readers and everyone out there a happy, safe Fourth of July. We also wish America a very Happy Birthday. Can you believe it? 237 years young and still going strong!

June 20, 2013

The Cooperative Trust Changes Hands - What Does That Mean for the Future? [Guest Author: Jimmy Marks]

ShareThis

[Editor's Note: Ron's out today, so we're throwing it over to Jimmy Marks, DigitalMailer's Creative Media Director, to comment on this breaking development.]

For the first time in its history, The Cooperative Trust has undergone a leadership change. Brent Dixon, the organization's creator and, for want of a better term, "Motivational Shepherd", has stepped down. He will be replaced by James Marshall, a credit union employee from the UK and a participant in this year's Crash the GAC event.

James has worked for CUs in the UK and is currently in London, waiting (I'm told) to make his way to the US of A. He'll be working with Filene on next steps and a strategy for growth for the tiny gathering of industry-loving young folks which started out as no more than a handful of weary travelers in a DC-area hostel. 

I've met James. I like him a lot. I don't know that much will change in the day-to-day, but I can appreciate his desire to bring outside perspective and to further energize the base. I'm sorry that Brent won't be directly tangled up in the Cooperative Trust's various goings-on, but I also greatly doubt that Brent won't have a hand in the organization in some way.

Long story short: I think this is great news. It comes at a time when the continued success of the Trust's mission and vision depend on an involved, articulate, energetic individual. 

For as legitimized as the Cooperative Trust has become in the past few years, there are people in the industry who still only see a bunch of "kids". Trust members have been accused of being leeches, only showing up at industry events - like GAC, or the WOCCU conference, or the NCBA annual meeting - to eat free food, stuff bags with vendor swag and disrupt the goings on. As an "adjunct faculty" of the Trust*, I can tell you that this is a gross misconception. I can also tell you that plenty of people that accuse Crash participants of being ill-mannered cheapskates are more than willing to show up at Thunderpunch, turn up their noses, drink the free alcohol and leave without thanking their very gracious hosts.

But I digress.

The Cooperative Trust holds "Crash" events because there are many credit unions in America that have a loyal member base, a keen mission and vision, but very little in the way of a travel budget. Others still send board members and C-level execs (all of whom, to be fair, should go to events like GAC and league meetings), but don't send younger folks that could benefit from learning more about what makes this industry tick. And lest you believe that the Cooperative Trust was founded to serve ages 18-25, there are "Trustees" of all ages - they're mentors, they're advisers, they're peers - and they hold just about any position in the credit union you could dare think of, from the top of the org-chart all the way down.

I won't spend too much time speaking on behalf of the Cooperative Trust - James Marshall's out there doing his job right this second and he's more than happy to speak to you about the future. But If I could put a bow on the vision of the organization, it would be simply this...

"A change is gonna come."

I've been a member of and have worked with credit unions that have undergone leadership changes in the past few years. Very few of them go out hunting for replacements in the non-finance sector, and I don't think very many more go after bank execs to fill the need. Typically, credit union people replace credit union people. You might say that this causes more stagnation in the industry...if we can't get outside of our own hiring pool, how can we grow? 

We grow by creating a better class of "credit union people". People who are experienced. People who are passionate. People who believe that credit unions can serve the people they were founded to serve on their own terms. People who will keep the credit unions we have growing strong and will help buoy the industry. I think the mission of the Cooperative Trust has been to create that class of credit union person, through mentoring, through service, and through engagement. 

I think James Marshall's a good fit. And I think that, as long as the Cooperative Trust never loses site of its goal - to create the credit union leaders and innovators of the future - the industry will benefit from more of this "young blood".

Agree? Disagree? Let us hear about it in the comments.


* I'm not a full-fledged Trust member. I help out with events, do the odd blog post and assist the organization with the occasional project.