3 Things Killing Credit Unions En Masse Right Now

blue angel with yellow wings and grey book or clipboard

When a company or organization dies, one commonality among the majority is comfort. As I type this, I’m mighty comfy sitting in my plant room in my vintage Woodard rocking chair overlooking my garden. That’s not the kind of comfort I’m talking about though. It’s the comfort that comes from never changing a thing within your credit union because you may fail, which is not comfortable, and change is uncomfortable.

You stop listening to your members. You stop trying new things. You stop looking at the data because you know it’s going to scream, “you need to change.” Death isn’t immediate. Hey, your capital is above 9% and you still have positive net income, but your credit union’s vital signs are starting to beat slower and slower.

I often wonder how a credit union leader can let a once vibrant organization that did so much good for people die a slow death and be ok with taking away that opportunity to help the next generation. But it’s not about the credit union, it’s about them (the leader) and their comfort. It’s about making it to retirement and not rocking the boat. The once necessary initiative, creativity, and risk-taking that got the credit union to where it is today are removed and replaced with comfort.

Research shows that this doesn’t happen in a single day or even over a long span of time. A period of 305 years of comfort and lack of change will allow the rigor to start setting in. But it doesn’t have to be. In the many credit union marketing engagements and strategic planning sessions I’ve facilitated in the last decade-plus, here are three observations I’ve seen from comfortable, dying credit unions:

  1. The passionate leader leaves. That’s probably the person who drove change and understood the importance of strategy and listening to the member. Those left are the doers, and without that critical change agent, the credit union begins to look like the home that the family up and left during dinner never to return. Everything stays just as the leader left it, and no one is willing to jump in and challenge what’s always been done.
  2. Rose-colored readers. It’s easy to slice and dice the data to fit your narrative. “Our capital is great, and our net income is still very positive.” Yet other key metrics or as our partner, Randy Thompson from TCT Risk, calls them, vital signs, are starting to show signs of decline, but those numbers are ignored in lieu of the positive ones. Hear no evil, see no evil. No one needs to change or admit things are on the decline. One of the first things we do while onboarding a new credit union marketing client is invite Randy to review the vital signs of the credit union. It’s hard to ignore when your numbers are in front of you with a red, yellow, or green indicator.
  3. Compliance outweighs member experience. Don’t skew my words and say, “Bo doesn’t think compliance matters.” That’s not true. However, John Felton from Southern Chautauqua FCU nailed it recently with a comment on social media reminding credit unions to manage risk, not avoid it. The death rattle began shaking for a former client of ours that allowed compliance to govern the credit union. Every creative idea was shot down to avoid risk. More loan applications were turned down than approved to avoid risk. The application process was outdated and burdensome, creating a horrible experience for members and prospective members. “Why aren’t we growing?” The inability to change and fear of any risk at all is keeping this diamond in the rough credit union from earning the growth it’s fully capable of experiencing.

Does any of this sound familiar? Is your comfort killing your credit union and keeping hundreds, possibly thousands, of people from getting the financial help they need? We have one opening this fall to welcome a new credit union marketing client to the YMC family. Let us help you gain the perspective you need through our time-tested process to achieve the results you want (and are fully capable of). Let’s talk!

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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


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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