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9 posts categorized "Outreach"

April 08, 2014

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

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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.

March 20, 2013

eManners: What Does "Polite" Look Like Nowadays?

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by Ron Daly 

It's always interesting to read an article that challenges convention, then see the blow-back from that article, then see the author's response to the blow-back. With so much media to manage these days, conversations and commentary come out of the woodwork. If they don't reply on your blog, they'll reply on their blog. Or on Twitter. Or on Facebook. Or by phone. Or right up in your face. 

Take, for instance, this opinion piece by Nick Bilton in the New York Times. It's a piece that rails against the "Thank You!" email, the voice mail where a text message should go, the use of friends to answer a question that's made for Google. 

Really, who sends an e-mail or text message that just says “Thank you”? Who leaves a voice mail message when you don’t answer, rather than texting you? Who asks for a fact easily found on Google?

Don’t these people realize that they’re wasting your time?

As you might expect, the lament of a 36-year-old super-geek didn't sit well with readers, many of whom are from a generation removed - one that emphasized penmanship, greeting cards and always saying "please" and "thank you". 

Do I really care about "Thank You" emails? No, not really. They're nice to get, and if they have more information or want to continue a conversation, why not? But I'm not going to lose sleep, nor should anyone looking for a reply from me be upset if I just move forward with the next steps after I get an email with an "action item". 

Bilton again, with a worthwhile consideration: 

How to handle these differing standards? Easy: think of your audience. Some people, especially older ones, appreciate a thank-you message. Others, like me, want no reply. “It is important to think about who the relationship is with,” Mr. [Daniel Post] Senning said.

Audience, audience, audience. The number one consideration in marketing, business, sales, collections, consultations, etc. You have to remember to whom you're talking. 

Based on the reactions he got, you might think Mr. Bilton hasn't considered his audience's reaction. Spoiler alert: they got mad. They called Bilton a "sociopath" (no, really), irrational, impatient, sad...they really didn't like the idea that he didn't want to talk to his mother directly, but rather via Twitter. Bilton later explained that his mother lives in England and, as a San Francisco resident, he couldn't call her at any hour that was convenient for both of them, so they rely on Twitter to fill in the gaps. He talks about how he does, in fact, hand-write thank you notes to friends and relations. But too late - the audience had made up their minds.

Bilton says he doesn't mind being "the punching bag" for people his age. He did lament, however, the extremes people go to when they react to something they don't like. They talk about how disgustingly disconnected from reality he must be to dislike a "thank you" message. Bilton replies that the stewards of Emily Post's legacy of good manners insist that, yes, you should consider the audience when crafting a reply. Some people will love a "thanks!", some won't. Some people will want a voice mail, some will just delete it. 

And then Bilton made a really terrific point about who trains whom in our culture. It used to be that older people taught younger people everything. As technology advances and people develop skills at different ages, it's clear that education moves in two directions: up and down the years, each generation having something to offer the other. 

I had to learn to text if I wanted to get an answer to a simple question out of my kids. My younger employees come to me if they want my input about business or finance. We have many ways of communicating and we all have things we need to get done, so we all have to adjust our methods from time to time to make it work. 

Now...let's talk about "what you've always done" and member communication. 

The truth is, things change. People want to converse and conduct business in different ways, and the methods they use are changing all the time. But in embracing changes, consider the audience's reaction to your messages. Maybe one group really loves hearing from you every month. Maybe one group wants a phone call every once in a while. Maybe there are outliers - people who have adopted new ways of handling all of their inputs and have rolled with the changes. 

Pay attention. Knowing how to talk to people is critical to a credit union marketer/manager's livelihood. Knowing when to say something and what to say is so important, and just as important, knowing when to quit talking and let people get back to their lives. 

My Pet Peeve: When you use an online chat or a toll-free line for customer support and people keep pushing the script on you when you've made it very clear that you're done. 

Me: "Well, thank you, that's all."

Them: "Okay, Mr. Daly, is there anything else I can help you with today?"

Me (in my brain): "Are you not listening? Or are you just forced to do this, like a robot?"

Me: "No, that's it."

Them: "Okay, thank you for calling our help line. You can reach us online any time at www..."

Me (in my brain again): "Come ON, just say goodbye and hang up the phone."

I like dealing with people, not people ordered to act like a computer. Here's my dream customer service call.

Me: "Well, thank you, that's all I needed."

Them: "Okay, Mr. Daly. Have a good afternoon."

Me: "Okay, bye!"

I've had maybe three of these calls in my life. And I make a lot of calls. 

All it takes is a little listening. People unsubscribe from your newsletter? Fine, but make a note of that. Don't chalk it up as "this person's not interested"...find a way into their lives that works for them and you. It exists, I'm sure. 

And when they talk, listen. And when they reply, read it thoroughly. And when they care, you should care, too. 

Don't let technology fool you into thinking that etiquette and thoughtfulness don't mean anything, to any given age group. Treat members with respect and you'll earn theirs. 

And for what it's worth? You should call your mom on the phone. Unless she's totally into Facebook now. 

January 29, 2013

A Penny Saved is…Still Not Enough to Save the Post Office

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by Ron Daly 

Well, my plan to invest my retirement in forever stamps is paying off nicely.

Yesterday, the United States Postal Service increased the price of a stamp to $0.46. The rest of the postage prices jumped, too, but it's good news if you've got a bunch of forever stamps sitting around - they're gaining value all the time. 

The USPS has the right idea - postage prices should increase, considering the fact that letter volume's dropping the way it is (heading to about 150 billion pieces of mail - seems like a lot, but that's actually waaaay down). And, lest we forget, the post office is bleeding about $25 million every day according to the postmaster general. Some estimate they'll be out of money and out of service in the next six months to a year. Will a penny more per mailed letter really save them? No, but it's better than standing still. 

Wait a minute, Mr. Postman...

In 2006, the USPS turned a $900 million dollar profit - yeah, you read that correctly. A profit. Hard to believe about an organization that in 2012 lost $16 billion. Where's all that money going? Is the sharp drop-off in mail volume to blame? Is it all the Postal Service's fault?

No, it isn't. As with just about everything these days, you can blame Congress. 

See, 2006 was the year Congress passed a law requiring the USPS to fund pensions through the next 75 years. I can tell you, this is unheard of in business - nobody's shoring up that much cash to pay employee pensions. Nobody. It's suspected that $11 billion of that $16 billion lost in 2012 went to pension funds and labor. Add to that the fact that mail volume's dropping off and Congress has been inflexible on the idea of killing off Saturday delivery (a measure that could save the USPS about $2 billion annually), the USPS has been fighting with one hand tied behind its back.

So, what's the solution?

There are plenty of people nationwide who are eager to see the post office saved for future generations. This Esquire article goes in-depth about the problem's the USPS is facing and how a complete dissolution of the entire postal service would be a blow to the American way of life. There's a new petition on WhiteHouse.gov to "save the postal service". But how to save it?

One possible way out? Undo the curse of the pre-funded pensions and let the money in that fund be dispersed to the post offices and carriers that need it. But that would require Congress's action in undoing what's been done. 

Congress? Action? Hmm...what's our other option? 

Oh, right...a taxpayer funded bailout. Taxpayers would fund the pension program and alleviate the post office's responsibilities. 

Feel like bailing out one more industry that can't handle the future? 

And speaking of the future...how bad off would USPS retirees be without the pensions in question? 

Not that bad, says Jen Wieczner at SmartMoney

Despite the Postal Service's debt, its retiree benefit coffers are beyond full. Its pension funds are more than 100% funded, compared with 42% for all federal pension funds and 80% for the average Fortune 1000 pension plan. That "astonishingly high figure," according to Williams, amounts to a "war chest" of resources that will take care of older workers for decades to come. 

So either way, it comes down to Congress. Keep your eyes peeled, there'll be a brouhaha on the Hill about all this, likely before the summer rolls in.

And in the meantime, what should you be doing, oh weary credit union marketer? 

The Broken Window Problem

You might be thinking, "yes, let's save the post office - we'll send out more mail!" It turns into the old Broken Window Fallacy - someone breaks a window, the window gets replaced for a certain cost, everyone starts a window repair business, and then all of a sudden...no broken windows. So what do people do? Start breaking windows to save the window repair businesses. 

It's wasteful and stupid. And so is trying to inject more mail into a beleaguered system because you feel bad about its shortcomings. When Western Union announced it would stop delivering telegrams, where did all the protests occur? Where was the petition saying an outmoded form of communication must be saved? 

I like my postal carrier. I like getting a letter every so often. But I don't walk around with 400 pieces of mail in my pocket every day. I do walk around with a small, touch screen computer that manages all my email, sends me text messages and even places phone calls. 

Now, let's look at credit unions. In a time when many CUs are closing their doors or getting merged, who can afford to overlook the significant cost savings that come from online banking, online account opening, eStatements, electronic bill pay, debit cards...the list goes on, but I get the sense I'm not telling you anything new. 

We started  DigitalMailer 13 years ago because we knew that the two things credit unions really want (operationally speaking) are to A) generate revenue and B) cut costs. You can't do that when you're chained to the giant rock of printing and postage. We've delivered close to 60 million eStatements over the years. At $0.46 saved per eStatement, that's $27.6 million that would go out of the pocket of the Post Office (sorry we're not sorry) and back into the pockets of the credit unions we serve. We've created products like One-Click Enrollment to help make that transition easy, and most eStatement converts never look back. Promoting education and organization to members through online account and document management is part of the greater mission of credit unions.

Heed that call and stop worrying about whether or not the Postal Service can survive. It'll take a fight with Congress, but it can be done. And even when it is, don't be surprised if the USPS still cries foul at the drop in volume. They had the chance to latch on to emerging technologies and ignored it, favoring the old ways instead of a new path to profitability. They didn't take it. 

Time for you to consider that new path for yourself. We're famous for avoiding bailouts. 

As for me, I hope postage jumps to $1 - my all-forever-stamp portfolio is looking better and better.

January 23, 2013

People Are Lending Directly to One Another…So What Are We Doing Here?

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by Ron Daly 

Today on CreditUnions.com, I was drawn to an article titled "Beyond the Home Loan: What can credit unions learn from online crowdfunding platforms?" [Here's the Full Article.]

While the article doesn't spell out the overall lessons, there are a handful of examples. Good enough, I suppose, because it got me thinking - what are we missing? 

Credit unions, as best I understand them (and after 30+ years in the business, I can honeslty say I do), were created to give members a way to lend to and borrow from one another. They were created as an alternative to the system. Now, for consumers, it seems like we're just another part of that "system". 

Bank customers and credit union members know that good loans go to good paper. If you're trying to buy a home or a car and you have a good credit score, you won't need to look for too long to get what you need. But if what you're trying to do is create a movie about Linotype machines or start a small business selling weirdly-shaped candles, you'll likely go wanting. And for the people who have rough credit, quick, high-interest loans with fewer strings mean more than "relationships" with a bank or credit union. 

As far as peer-to-peer finance and technology goes, you're crazy if you don't go read "A Game of Leapfrog" by Brent Dixon. 

From the article, originally published on the CU Watercooler

But meanwhile, many credit unions still don't even offer online account opening. We're saddled by regulations. We're a weighty, slow-moving beast. We make excuses.

Consumer finance is not just begging for disruption, it's experiencing it. In a few short years, many traditional institutions will be passed over. Leapfrogged. It's easier to build than reform, and people are building.

So, what can credit unions learn from peer-to-peer finance today?

  1. Time to Re-evaluate the "People Helping People" Message -

    Everyone I talk to in the industry loves that phrase, but how many credit unions are interested in the proof of it? When a person lends to Kickstarter, they get a "thank you" in the form of a gift - maybe a version of the product the borrower is developing or a branded package of swag with the up-and-coming product or company logo. What's the "thank you" gift new members get at your credit union? A letter? A free pen? 

    Better yet, where are the booklets and brochures with member success stories? Show me the story of a member who joined and went from broke to flush thanks to the credit union. Show me the small businesses that have benefited from the CU's guidance. Those stories have got to be there. Otherwise, my fees and interest are going toward nothing, as far as I can tell.

  2.  Partner Big, Lend Small

    According to the CreditUnions.com article above, services such as Kiva and Fundly use proven tech platforms like Paypal and Amazon to process payments and securely move money to and from borrowers and lenders.  Why can't credit unions partner with tech providers for everything they need - better online banking and account opening, smart phone apps, tracking of the loan process, etc.?

    It's not that they can't, it's typically that they won't...or don't want to. Even when vendors provide all the due-dilligence and proven testimonials and case studies, credit unions will still look for ways to doubt results. Who does that help? Not the member, certainly, and not the loan portfolio.

    And look at the amounts certain people are requesting - $300? $500? They'll go to a payday lender before they walk through your front door, how is that a good thing? It's not because the money isn't expensive - the rates on these small, short-term loans are outrageous. But people see fewer barriers to entry. They don't know they're walking into a trap. Shouldn't being more accessible be a goal for every credit union?

  3.  Never Turn Away From Your Social Missions

    People value charity, philanthropy, benevolence - not because they're "trendy", but because they're the right thing to do. We know hundreds of credit unions that partner with great causes but rarely explain the depth and their level of involvement. Why shy away from talking about things like Credit Unions for Kids? Share the good news with more than just a parting shot in your newsletter - make it a cause that you champion, not just "support".

  4.  Play the Game, But Play to Win -

    Sure, LendingClub and Prosper.com are growing enterprises. But are they human enterprises?  Can they really lend and handle deposits the way you can? Are those prepay debit cards celebrities seem to love so much really a better alternative? The answer to all three of those questions is "no". 

    You can provide deposit insurance. You can provide security. You can provide convenience. You can do it all and, if you do it well, you can show everyone that you're not "just another bank" - you were facilitating "peer-to-peer" before it was cool. And you're still here now.

It's not just lending that's being overtaken by "the people" - it's debt forgiveness, too. The Rolling Jubilee raised half a million dollars, bought up thousands and thousands of dollars of debt from banks, and forgave it. These "gifts of forgiveness" went out to average consumers, bogged down by medical or educational debt, and told them their debt was forgiven in its entirety. 

Your average consumer now knows that there are multiple ways to manage one's money - there's the bank, there's the credit union, or there's "none of the above". 

We USED to be the way people loaned money to one another...now, we're a hinderance. We get our "people helping people" status back by being adaptable, affordable, approachable, and dependable. 

Let's get to it.

 

August 10, 2012

Why Useful Alerts Mean So Much

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by Ron Daly - 

Checkbook_brain
Image Source: "Checkbook with a brain - 1975" by Nesster on Flickr (used under CC 2.0)

Notifications have been a blessing and a curse in the past decade.

"You have two new followers on Twitter!" Well, good for me. 

"John checked in at Boots-N'-Chutes!" Good for John, but why do I care?

"You were tagged in a photo on Susan's Facebook Album, 'Me and My Friends at a Jimmy Buffet concert!' Click to view." ...okay, that one's a good catch. Better untag that one of me with a margarita and a parrot hat. 

Yes, social media has spoiled us for notifications, turning the most mundane and unimportant notes into flashing billboards that you almost can't avoid. 

How do credit unions get heard above the din? By remembering the truth...

Nobody's Thinking About You

Anybody a "Mad Men" fan out there? I've only seen bits and pieces, but one scene sticks out in my mind. Do you remember this past season when Don Draper cheated one of his junior copywriters out of a campaign for shaved ice? The junior copywriter tells Don he feels bad for the way Don is, and Don responds "I don't think about you at all." 

Powerful words. They don't mean "I love you", they don't mean "I hate you". They mean "you don't matter". And, sadly, I think a lot of people feel this way about their banking (er, "credit unioning") relationship. As long as they get approved at point-of-sale and there are no big fees lurking around the corner, most members don't care much what their credit union is "all about". It's usually when there's a NSF fee incurred or a payment missed or a check bounced that people get up-in-arms and start contemplating a switch.

But there's a hidden misunderstanding here - members CAN AVOID huge overage charges, missed payments, and running out of money. They just don't like to think about their accounts or their budgets. And other banks and credit unions are setting high bars by using smart, targeted and actionable eLerts, so when a member doesn't get a warning sign to stop spending, they're left feeling burnt.

JJ Hornblass wrote a great article about this very topic on Bank Innovation. From the article

Is it valuable to know when a balance is low? Yes. Is that all a customer needs to know when it comes to low balances? Of course not. A meaningful alert would be one that cross references balances with payments. Let me explain. Say I have $10,000 in my checking account. Certainly, that is not a “low balance” — and US Bank would not send me an alert as a result. But what if I have a future payment planned for the following week in the amount of $11,000? The fact is that $10,000 immediately becomes “low.” And what if I get paid $6,000 every Monday? Well, then that $10,000 is not “low” anymore.

See how a little "extra mile" thinking can turn "Your money's gone." into "Your money's about to disappear, let's do something about it."? See how valuable that is to a member? See how it changes the way they think about you — not just as some brick building that holds their paycheck hostage week to week, but as a partner, a concerned party in their financial future?

Remember how important check registers were to your parents, or maybe even to you? Those days are long gone. Newer generations of members want to see their money come in and go out in real time online and have a rough idea about what's there otherwise.

Meet the demand. Make them think about you, and make those thoughts happy thoughts. 

August 02, 2012

BTD2012: Will It Happen, and If Not, Will You MAKE It Happen?

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by Ron Daly -

Reports vary on how important Bank Transfer Day 2011 was. The 5th of November was supposed to have been the finish line of months of bank-switching and move-making. What came of it? 

According to a new Javelin study, not nearly as much as what might have been. Even though the NCUA and CUNA have speculated that 2011 brought in between 1.3 and 2.1 million members, respectively, Javelin's Mark Schwanhausser has called BTD "a bust". Even though the year saw impressive member growth (by CU industry standards), Javelin's study suggests that 11% of consumers are still eager to switch and some $675 Billion is still up for grabs in 2012...well, what's left of 2012, that is. 

So, when is Bank Transfer Day 2012? Is it needed? Could it happen again as it had before?

Ron Shevlin doesn't think so. From his blog

As far as I’m concerned, BTD 2011 was a passing phenomenon. A one-time shot. The pieces came together at a moment in time in 2011, and those pieces aren’t there for 2012. 

What pieces, specifically? An angry public, for one. People just aren't as incensed this year. They haven't had a "$5 fee-asco" like the Bank of America fee that kick-started the whole affair in 2011. Not to say the "Big-Banks" aren't charging fees - far from it. But there's no kick-start, no "straw that broke the camel's back" this year. 

Another missing component? A strong social media groundswell, created by an outsider, pushed on by concerned and eager fans and followers. You can't just drum those up out of nothing, they have to be hand-made by eager participants. 

And what about the insistance that "every day is Bank Transfer Day"? Yes, it's technically true, but are credit unions making the switch an easy one?

I was at an industry event a few weeks ago when someone insisted that "switch-kits" - the online walk-throughs designed to help people move their money - are "worthless" (their words, not mine). So, what's the key? Is there a snappy, easy way to get money from one FI to another and close accounts? 

And on the other side of the coin, there's a much bigger issue: member attrition. How many members that DID show up thanks to BTD are already gone? How many will we lose this year? If we keep sliding backwards, how will we ever get the growth we need? More startling, the fact that people itching to switch would be willing to pay fees for additional services...as much as $92 million. In FEES! Don't you see how important it is to not only offer "great customer service", but to offer sticky, useable products to back that up (as I discussed in my July CU Community article)? 

I can tell you this - if you're hoping another 50% member increase is just going to fall into your lap, you're dreaming. 

February 16, 2012

The Great Mortgage Refi: Should We?

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by Ron Daly 

Remember Superman: The Movie when Superman flew around the world and spun time backwards? That way, he could save Lois Lane, stop Lex Luthor, and whitewash all the unpleasantness that ever happened. I'm not a physicist, but I'm not so sure that would work. And if it did, why stop there? Why not keep flying backwards and stop Lex Luthor before he even hatches his evil scheme? 

I bring it up because someone wants us to fly backwards and undo a disaster. Not a physical or natural disaster, but a financial disaster. The article "Time to consider mass mortgage refinancings" by Allan Sloan in the Washington Post sheds light on a shocking idea: that we could refinance the mortgages of qualified-but-financially-stressed borrowers and actually save ourselves some money and some risk.

From the article:

I’m talking about providing a cheap, streamlined and simple way to refinance fixed-rate mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which own about half the nation’s mortgages and are now effectively owned by the federal government. Fannie and Freddie creditors were bailed out in 2008 when Uncle Sam put the firms into conservatorship to avoid their having to file for bankruptcy; as we’ll soon see, those creditors, consisting primarily of big financial institutions, would bear the cost of helping homeowners.

Mass Fannie and Freddie mortgage refis could provide billions of dollars of economic stimulus and support the prices of homes, many Americans’ biggest single asset. All while costing taxpayers nothing.

This isn't Sloan's idea - it was formulated by a group of experts from Columbia University; among them, a former economic advisor to George W. Bush. Their data and their proposal are available for review [click here to see it]. All of this comes around the same time as President Obama's plan for widespread refi, mentioned in his State of the Union 2012 address [click here], which draws much of its power from new taxes on institutions with more than $50 billion in assets. Many praised that plan, but it seems as though Congress won't play ball [click here].

My questions:

  1. Should these massive refis happen? 
  2. Will they happen, and when?
  3. Will it be the saving grace of the embattled housing market? 
  4. How will credit unions be affected? Positively or negatively? Do we get anything out of this? 

If you've got answers, I'd love to read them. Leave us a comment below and let's talk about it. 

November 08, 2011

We're declaring national "Take your Compliance Team to Lunch" month!

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I'm not sure why this is, but most CU people I know don't look forward to an appointment with their dentist, NCUA or their Compliance Officer. Compliance and Internal Audit are thankless jobs that play an important role in keeping financial institutions safe and on track.

With all the bad rap Compliance Teams get, I thought we'd point out some recent conversations of how Compliance Officers are looking for ways to make Compliance a profit center. Once you CEOs and CFOs stop laughing, read on.

Compliance as a Profit Center?

Banks and Credit unions are finding ways for their organization to save money based on recommendations derived from the Compliance Team. So when you think about it, if they save enough money for an organization, Compliance could be a profit center when looking for ways to reduce costs and still be in compliance.

For example, are there paper disclosures that are printed over and over again due to regulatory changes that can be switched to electronic delivery? How about daily notices that are printed and mailed that are more a "courtesy" than a required mailing?  Are there ways for the CU to go "green" and still comply with ESIGN? (good ESIGN info in this compliance post but you'll need to be a subscriber to read it online)

In this post on the Trinovus Blog "Make Compliance a Profit Center", they suggest three ideas for financial institution Compliance folks to consider which help improve the bottom line.

Anthony Demangone, NAFCU's Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, when asked if his view of compliance changed due to his new role at NAFCU, shared five ways folks can really help themselves as compliance officers.

  1. Bone up on your communication skills.   
  2. Think globally about your credit union. 
  3. Options. 
  4. Understand statistics, PowerPoint, and Excel. 
  5. Come with solutions.

(Read the full post here)

Granted, not everything from Compliance will save money. But if Compliance folks just find one big way to save money, make the recommendation with an estimate of how much the organization will save and watch management's attitude change as compliance helps improve the bottom line in these tough times.

So, we're declaring national "Take your Compliance Team to Lunch" month! There's no one better equipped inside your organization to figure out how to comply with all the regs and save you money. In November, walk down the hall and just say hello. Or bring them coffee and a pastry when the office is having a breakfast meeting without them. Even better, add a little more light and turn on the heat in their work areas. Compliance Officers are people, too!

What do you think? Can it work? Have ideas to suggest where your Compliance Team has saved you money and improved your bottom line?

 

August 31, 2011

Calling All Credit Unions - How CUs are Helping After Irene

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 by Ron Daly 

Hurricane Irene is still affecting a large swath of the East Coast, leaving thousands without power and with significant home damage and flooding. In hopes of helping members, credit unions on the East Coast and from around the country are reaching out to help. 

From USA Today:

When homeowners in the Houston area had to wait 45 days for insurance checks after Hurricane Katrina, Chartway Federal Credit Union advanced personal loans so customers could stay in hotels and pay monthly bills until they received the insurance money. "And we'll do the same now," says Ron Burniske, CEO of Chartway, which has 63 branches across the country...

Chartway is willing to let members affected by Hurricane Irene skip loan payments. It says its plans will evolve as it hears what members need. "Unlike most institutions, we will not go out and decide what they want and need," Burniske says. "We can turn a product around in 12 hours."

On the larger, national level, NCUF has activated CUAid. From their website:

The National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) has activated the online disaster relief system CUAid.coop to raise money for credit union people along the East Coast affected by Hurricane Irene...

Credit union supporters in every state can now make donations through a secured website that accepts credit cards and wire transfers (www.cuaid.coop). CUAid is the only program of its kind that enables credit union employees, volunteers, and members, as well as credit unions and credit union organizations across the U.S., to contribute directly to support other credit union people.

A tip of the hat, both to Chartway and NCUF. Way to move fast and respond to a situation that has left a lot of your members and clients hurting. Here's hoping more folks get the help they need as we move toward recovery and clean-up. 

These are just two of many initiatives that CUs and their organizations are putting out there to help. Can you share another in our comments section?