Rediscovering Our Cooperative Roots
Scott Butterfield, a trusted and well respected veteran of the credit union movement, was a featured speaker at this year’s New Ideas Conference. With a passion for the credit union movement deeply rooted in a belief that the movement’s future success depends largely on maintaining its unique philosophy of “not for profit, not for charity, but for service”, Scott began his presentation by covering early movement growth and the origins of credit unions. With their focus on affordable access to credit, credit unions resonated strongly with consumer need. With our current economy, that message is resonating once again. However with lower demand for loans, where is growth going to come from?
Besides the economy, legislative and regulatory issues are escalating the burdens on credit unions. Operations are also more complex, especially for the smaller credit unions. Rising system and human resource costs make it difficult for credit unions to compete.
What are some modern techniques that credit unions can use to gain an advantage?
For one, credit unions should seek the “right people” with new skill sets that meet today’s technology and selling needs, even though this can mean making hard decisions about employees.
It can also mean updating systems and resources so they are aligned with current member needs. Consumer demands have changed in the last few years and will continue to evolve.
Credit unions can take advantage of their cooperative roots by forming joint CUSOs for lending, collections, operations, compliance, and training.
Most importantly, we should continue to leverage the credit union difference. By focusing on community, serving low and moderate income families with financial education and asset building tools, credit unions can achieve their target growth.