3 questions credit union leaders must ask right now

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“Every day more of our life is used up and less and less of it is left.”

Those are the words of Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. So why then, do we act so lackadaisical? What has happened to the credit union community over the last decade or two that has caused the collective euthanasia of so many credit unions?

Quoting Heraclitus, “Our words and actions should not be like those of sleepers.” I believe that’s what so many of us have started to do. We’ve begun to sleepwalk not only through our life but through our careers. We must engage in succession and strategic planning for credit unions.

As I pore through data each quarter, especially that of merged credit unions, I spy so many missed opportunities. Last year, Chip Filson reviewed some mergers and posted this message that was included in a Notice of Special Meeting to members of one credit union:

The directors of the participating credit unions have concluded that the proposed merger is desirable for the following reasons: South Division Credit Union has not grown in size or membership participation for several years and has been faced with increasing operational, regulatory and compliance expenses; lack of managerial expertise, aging Board of Directors and no effective succession plans. We believe a merger would offset these trends by offering South Division Credit Union’s members access to an array of new services, more modern account management systems, improved remote electronic access for lending programs, better savings and loan rates, and additional facilities.

I do not believe that opportunities to lend money have gone away, rather credit unions have not innovated loan products nor have they innovated the application and underwriting process to remain relevant.

I do not believe the need for a trusted place to park your money between paydays has changed (a need that has been around since 1800BC), rather credit unions have not kept up with providing the experience (technology) that consumers expect.

I do not believe credit unions are unnecessary to the point we lose a few hundred every year, rather credit union leaders and volunteers have operated out of fear of the unknown, this refusing to change and innovate to remain relevant.

Let’s call out this statement in that notice to members posted above:

The credit union has not grown in size or membership participation for several years and has been faced with increasing operational, regulatory and compliance expenses; lack of managerial expertise, aging Board of Directors and no effective succession plans.

That’s not for lack of opportunity; it’s because of lack of leadership and strategic planning for credit unions. As we continue into this new year, I urge you to have some tough conversations with the leadership of your credit union. Here are three places to start:

  1. Do any of our board members represent our ideal member? If not, why is this not a priority? If so, are those voices being heard and respected?
  2. Are we sacrificing opportunity for comfort? What legacy thoughts and processes are we clinging to for safety as opposed to innovating to provide the desired experience for our ideal member?
  3. What is my decision-making process as a leader? Am I holding on to what is comfortable in an attempt for job security (often in vain), or am I taking risks that will allow us to remain relevant and thriving for the next generation?

I am not coming from a holier-than-thou place to call our credit union leaders out. These are questions that I ask as a credit union board member, but also as a business owner. I can look back over the last few years and see missed opportunities to innovate and grow a better business for the sake of comfort and security. My takeaway:

You’ll be promised this year, but you will not be guaranteed next year.

Stop allowing your words and actions to be that of sleepers. Stop prioritizing short-term security over long-term success. Stop taking away credit unions that could be a vital resource to your community for the sake of your personal and professional comfort.

Are you ready to ask the tough questions?

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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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