Insane Growth At Credit Unions Could Be A Killer

One thing I am always open to is admitting when I am wrong. As I’ve gotten older and matured as a leader, I’ve had to look back at things I’ve said and re-think them. There have been many times as a youthful leader I started a sentence with “I’ll never…” and found myself eating those words. Most of the time, it’s not because I was wrong per se, but because as I’ve invested in myself through reading, working with coaches, and personal growth, I’ve had to change my mind on certain things. What worked for me 10 years ago doesn’t necessarily work for me now. One of those things I’ve had to change my mind about I want to share with you today. It’s the concept of “growth.” WE NEED TO GROW! Your credit union needs to grow! “Growth” is a loaded word that can have many meanings. For example, “you need to grow as a person.” Without context, that could very well be a recommendation to gain weight. Jeff Siegler explores this thought in a recent article on this very subject as he explores the “growth” of cities from a planning perspective. “Eating garbage food and being sedentary is the easiest path for a person to grow, but we all know that such growth is quite unhealthy. We don’t need to be fitness experts to understand that this behavior would have seriously negative impacts on the health of an individual. Simultaneously, a person could increase their weight by strength training and eating a higher protein diet. Muscle increases are shown to increase metabolism, bone density and lead to an overall higher quality of life. A person could grow fatter or more muscular, but we would never equate the two as being the same.” As the chairman of the planning commission for my city, in hopes that we will “grow” I’ve had to take a hard look at the meaning of growth. I realized our city does not need to grow big. We don’t need to grow for growth’s sake. In fact, I’ve embraced our word of the year at YMC and replaced the word growth with “vibrancy.” Siegler shared these wise words on “growth” that, while meant for city planning, applies directly to the growth strategies we often consider as credit unions: “Not all growth is good, and far from it. Quality is the crucial component to consider, because, just like a person, a community can expand without ever improving. In fact, when a city or town grows without giving credence to quality, they are most likely declining. Paving new roads does not make a community better, increasing the number of national chains does not make a community better, building more auto-centric vinyl subdivisions does not make a community better. Yet, these are all economic development policies that most places adhere to. These are growth strategies, not improvement strategies, and blindly adhering to growth policies is insane.” Membership growth or asset growth alone for a credit union doesn’t mean quality. Adding a new mobile app does not make a credit union better. Building a new branch does not make a credit union better. It could be a good growth strategy, but it doesn’t mean an improvement strategy. Growth and improvement must go hand in hand if you don’t want an endless cycle of courting a new member only to have them roll off the books and close their account within a short period of time. Let me share these words again: “Blindly adhering to growth policies is insane.” What does this mean? Perhaps your strategic planning session this year needs a fresh look. Perhaps the strategies you are implementing need to be discussed and questioned. Perhaps the tactics of those strategies should also be reviewed. If you need a fresh voice, we have facilitated many strategic planning sessions for credit unions who have found themselves stuck, and we can help you too. Ready? You’re just one email away from getting unstuck and seeing a more vibrant credit union!

Navigating the Challenges of Authentic Leadership

Have you ever heard that authenticity is everything? As credit union leaders, we are called to be principled, transparent, and tackle issues head-on with high levels of integrity. Yet there are societal expectations, personal barriers, and organizational dynamics that often challenge our authenticity. In most credit union cultures, there is an unspoken emphasis on uniformity rather than individuality. A leader who dares to veer too far from the norm is often treated with suspicion. In the name of “professionalism,” leaders may likewise feel compelled to mask their emotional states, pretending to be someone or something they are not. Leading from a distance is impossible because it gives a leader an excuse not to engage. Inside our credit unions, the demand for immediate results can force us to pursue short-term wins over long-term, value-based goals. These short-term performance pressures can derail us from being our authentic selves. As much as we want to be authentic leaders, how does the fear of rejection, aversion to risks, pressures to conform, and inconsistent values and actions challenge us to lead authentically? And here comes the body blow: Exhibiting authentic leadership is reflective of how you inspire, motivate, and guide your followers. Becoming an authentic leader is not a matter of honor, but a challenge. There are several innate challenges to authenticity. We’re here to unpack how you can go from good to great as an authentic leader at your credit union. Give Yourself Self-Awareness Authentic leadership is not merely “being yourself.” This viewpoint can lead you to resist feedback and growth opportunities. Authenticity should not be an excuse for failing to grow, adapt, and improve. Another common pitfall is oversharing both information and emotions. You must balance honesty with discretion and consider the context and appropriateness of what is being shared. Authentic leaders emphasize self-awareness. It’s taking ownership of your work, your decisions, and your contributions to the organization’s success overall. Regular self-reflection and mindfulness practices, such as journaling, as well as 360-degree feedback, can help you increase your emotional intelligence. Also, seek feedback from peers and engage in continuous learning. A mentor or coach can guide you to develop your own unique leadership model.  Define and Align Organizational Values It is also critical not to overcorrect. A common risk is when a leader is focused solely on their own authenticity to the point that they neglect their credit union’s needs and values. The culture and values of the credit union play a significant role in shaping leadership. Authentic leaders align their actions with their values and the values of the organization. This alignment creates a coherent and compelling vision that inspires and motivates others. If you find a misalignment with building trust, inspiring loyalty and engagement, or creating a positive culture, it’s time to clarify (or reclarify) values. Review the credit union’s mission and vision statement to understand its core values and long-term goals. Compare personal values and organizational values to identify areas of alignment and potential conflict. Then, embed those values into your training programs, performance reviews, and development plans. To Err is Human Nobody’s perfect—not even the boss! Authentic leaders create a culture where failures are seen as opportunities for learning and growth. When leaders admit their own blunders, they build trust and embolden their teams to take smart risks, innovate, and improve without the fear of failure. The key is not to pass blame or judgment, but rather to say, “Now I begin again.” Give yourself and others a personal invitation to do your greatest work yet – always fixated on the road ahead, never stuck in the rear-view mirror. As Vice President of Brand Experience for Your Marketing Co., Frank Allgood works with credit unions to develop strong leaders, create effective training programs, and build powerful brands. Want to connect? Call 864.326.8740 or email frank@yourmarketingco.com.

What Is Holding Your Credit Union Back From Growth?

FEAR! Wait, I know if you’ve read my articles before, you’re likely thinking, “NOT AGAIN!” Stick with me. I want to take a deeper dive into this thing called “fear” and provide some resources that can help you or your team get unstuck and push past the fear. First, fear in the credit union leadership office or boardroom doesn’t usually look like fear. It usually comes in the form of a new, uncomfortable idea. In a recent credit union strategic planning session with Riverfront Federal Credit Union, CEO Tim McLeod shared how many peers will ask about some of the innovative strategies and technologies his credit union has adopted over the last year, then is met with comments like, “We could never do that,” or “That is too expensive!” Hold your horses! Those comments are made with zero perspective on what it took to bring that new strategy to life or how much that new technology cost. Their limited mindset instantly goes to “new technology = too expensive.” It’s not just Riverfront getting met with these comments. Time and time again, I’ll see our best practice credit union clients who see long-term success prodded by peers about what they are doing, and then met with comments like, “I don’t know how NCUA is letting you get away with that,” or “Gosh, that’s too expensive.” Those comments are nothing but fear, and fear is a lack of perspective. How the team at Riverfront and many of our other best practice credit union marketing clients gain perspective is by removing fear and making good decisions. Let’s put it this way: Most things we fear are rooted in similar ignorance (or nicely put, lack of data or perspective). If you don’t know what a tornado is or what’s behind an earthquake, it may well seem like the wrath of an angry or vengeful god. But, if you step back and learn about atmospheric pressure or tectonic plates, it’s not quite as scary. You have facts and understand what the true nature of these events. Of course, it can still hurt you, but you’ll be both better prepared and less likely to take it personally. A recent passage from Daily Stoic summed it up nicely: “We are afraid of what we don’t understand. We are vulnerable to what we can’t grasp. This is why science and history and good ole’ personal experience are so essential. They make us wiser but also braver. Because now we know, and once we know, then we can know what to do. We can know how to prepare.” Implementing AI at your credit union isn’t as scary when you dig deeper to understand how it works and how others are using it. Technology may not be as “expensive” as you think, especially if you look at the impact it could have on growing your credit union. If you need help gaining some perspective and getting unstuck to move your credit union closer to its goals, we can help. Over the last 15-plus years, I have helped hundreds of credit unions find opportunities and implement marketing strategies that led to growth and created a positive impact for their members and their community. My team can do that for you, too.

Why Are Members Closing Accounts and Leaving Your Credit Union?

“Some of them are just passing away!” I’m a marketer, not a doctor, so I can’t help with that. “68% of consumers leave a business relationship because of a perceived attitude of indifference.” I’m a marketer; I may be able to help with that. But let’s dive deeper into this statement and follow my golden rule of “asking a freaking question.” What causes that indifference, and what needs to change within your credit union to build a lasting relationship? But… we love our members! We have good rates and good service! Whatever message or reason that new member joined the credit union was enough to earn their business, but what are you doing to keep that business? Actions speak louder than words. What I find is that the mindset of most credit union leaders is acquisition. Grow members. Get them in the door! When we say mission accomplished, we rinse, wash, repeat, and turn a blind eye to that new member and focus on the next new member. Diving deeper into that 68%, the indifference comes from the attitude of the credit union employees. This could be the CEO at the top whose goal is to grow members, or the teller who believes their only job is to handle that transaction in front of them and move on to the next. So, what can you do about this? I’m only going to scratch the surface with these ideas: Rather than a constant churn of members to prop up your credit union membership goals, what if we could retain 68% more of our members by showing them some love? Need help? For over 15 years we have used our time-tested credit union marketing strategies and tactics to help credit unions grow by engaging, educating, and retaining the next generation of credit union members. We can help you too.

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
 
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
 
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche

Copywriter

Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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