Saving Members Money

CEO’s monthly messages to staff are an important communication on results and vision.

Leaders use stories to illustrate strategic purpose.  They  include examples of what an organization strives to be.

One example is WEOKIE Credit Union’s Jeff Carpenter’s internal newsletter illustrating how it delivers the benefits of cooperative ownership.   The following are vignettes of saving members money by refinancing from much higher rates and by understanding member’s specific circumstances.

The following cases are used by permission with only the names changed:

  • David came in to see if we could refinance his vehicle from Flagship where he was paying almost 17% interest! WEOKIE approved him at 7.49% and lowered his monthly payment from $660 to $400. David left happy knowing that not only would he be paying less every month, he also is saving over $3,000 in interest.
  • Rebecca consolidated her credit card debt with us. She was paying 24.99% and higher in interest on her credit cards. We were able to lower her interest to 11.99%. This saved over $2,400 in interest alone! The new monthly payment of $211.00, including payment protection, is $200 less than it was before!
  • Jordan refinanced his auto loan with WEOKIE at a 2.99% interest rate. The dealership had originally financed him with Santander Bank in Texas at a 20.99% interest rate. After some time building his credit and making good payments, he was able to refinance at this significantly lower rate. He will save about $7,601.41 in interest!
  • James refinanced his auto loan with WEOKIE at a 7.24% interest rate. He reluctantly financed with Capital One when he purchased the vehicle with a 15.67% interest rate. WEOKIE was able to cut his rate in half, which will save him about $8,207.30 in interest!
  • Ed came in asking for a payoff quote on his auto loans. Kady asked him why he was needing a payoff and he said he was refinancing to lower his interest rate. She asked more questions and learned he is purchasing another rental property. His goal was to reduce his debt to income ratio since he always does really short terms on his auto loans. After learning more, we proposed a cash out loan and lower interest rate to help him stay with WEOKIE. We were able to lower his rate to 1.99% extend his term to 60 months, lower his payment from $886 to $536 AND give him $15,000 in cash for his new rental purchase! Ed was ecstatic we could help him reach his financial goals without leaving WEOKIE!

Examples Tell the Cooperative Story

These cases demonstrate the credit union difference more concretely than general slogans.   They recognize staff initiative and document specific member benefits.

Stories are easier to remember than grand plans.   Thanks to Jeff and his team for sharing these examples of cooperative employees making a difference.

Why Latino Credit Union Matters Today

In2003, just three years after being chartered, Latino Credit Union won the Herb Wegner award for outstanding organization.

The credit union today is one of the most successful coop startups ever.  But the communities it serves and its ongoing financial performance are not its most important lesson.

Latino’s Example as a Coop

When banks are organized, it is the wealthy who put up the capital to secure the charter.   This has always been the practice and always will be.

At its founding the employees of Latino Credit Union spoke five languages and came from 16 countries. This paradigm of recent immigrants and low-income workers forming their own financial coop is a stark contrast to the for-profit banking model.

Credit unions demonstrate how individuals who are the most vulnerable and threatened in society can join together for opportunity.   Hope and trust replace fear and exploitation.

Credit unions are a different way, a unique self-help option in a capitalist system dominated by large financial firms and private wealth.

Presence-More than a Place, a Home

Latino and other credit unions offer more than branches, virtual delivery and personal service.

In America today, there are those who profit from individuals who have the least or know the least.

The coop model is about presence, a place to turn when a person is in need.  A financial home where people know their interests are paramount, like the family home.

It is about more than a place.  The credit union replaces uncertainty with freedom from fear, the fear of being vulnerable or afraid.

When the credit union option is at its finest, people can begin to realize who they want to be.  They have a rusted partner as they strive to live out their hopes and dreams.

Latino Credit Union shows why coops matter, a path for those without advantages but willing to work together for everyone’s sake.





A Much Needed Message for today—From 2003

John Herrera’s Wegner award acceptance speech as Chair of the Latino Community Credit Union is as moving and thoughtful today as it was that evening.

In 2003 Latino Community was only $11 million in assets, relying on credit union deposits and just ramping up its loan operations.   But its initial success and impact were already noteworthy.

Herrera’s speech touches a number of important themes:

  • The “family” of supporters-over 20 on stage with him;
  • The Movement has developed an “accent”-an accent on people and community;
  • His staff: they speak five languages, are from 16 countries and routinely work beyond closing hours until everyone is served.

But his two most vital messages, more relevant than ever, start at:

5:00- “Our story is your story”- a shared vision for all persons to have access to affordable financial services;

8:45- “Immigration and the treatment of immigrants”- There are “no illegal human beings.” Immigrants are a critical aspect of America’s democratic enterprise.  The first credit union was created by and for immigrants, who couldn’t speak English.

Here is the full speech, just over 10 minutes with the family of supporters on stage beside him.

Questions for Today

When was the last time you heard a credit union leader speak this movingly about their credit union’s addressing critical economic issues for its members?

When have you witnessed a more concrete example of the movement gathered around a common vision?

Which credit union leader has spoken recently or more eloquently about the role of the immigrant community for America?

Can you identify another time such as this evening, when you were proud to be a part of the credit union movement?

Hopefully this speech reminds us of who credit unions can be at their best;  and whether we are building on the legacy we have been given.

The Latino Community Credit Union-A Timeless Example of Cooperative Action

The 2003 Herb Wegner award for outstanding organization is perhaps even more significant today than when granted almost two decades ago.

Here is co-MC Annaloro’s description of the special nature of this award which had been given only 14 times before.

In 2003, Latino credit union was three years old, held $11 million in assets and had just 8,000 members.  Even then the credit unions was know for “punching far beyond its weight class.”

As Chair Chuck Purvis stated in his opening remarks, it is an example of the movement coming together to “effectively serve the needs” of the Hispanic market.  And those needs were clear and unmistakable as documented by the introductory 10 minute video from that evening. Why a credit union for the Hispanic community:

Latino Credit Union Today

This is a powerful example of credit union’s ability to respond to some of the most vulnerable persons in our society.  Few could foresee what the long-term results of this initial organizing effort would be.

Today Latino Community Credit Union has $663 million in assets and continues it focus on lending with a loan-to-share ratio of over 100%.  It has a below peer operating expense ratio even though it manages 13 branches with 157 employees serving in excess of 101,000 members.

Every aspect of its performance is exceptional with recent annual growth in shares (24%)  and loans (28%) at the very top of the industry.  It reported net worth of 11.2% at June 30 even with this high level of balance sheet growth.

Latino’s Meaning for Today

When passion and commitment meet human need, the opportunity for success is great.  This is the circumstances in which credit unions were begun in 1909.  Inequalities and vulnerable populations have not disappeared from American society.   The continued growth of payday lenders and check cashiers is an ongoing example of persons living paycheck to paycheck

Latino also shows the power  of new startups.  Some today disparage the efforts to form new credit unions.  They point out their small size forgetting that every credit union that exists today started small. Some point out the capacity of existing credit unions to serve more-and yet many parts of the their current FOM’s remained unserved or underserved.

Succeeding from scratch is not an easy thing to do.  Latino maximized its chances of success by getting inspiration from those who had already achieved what they want to accomplish.

We will learn in tomorrow’s acceptance speech, how these people became mentors-”family”-helping along the way.  Mentors increase the chance of success because they will have already confronted many of the questions that determine whether or not a start up will succeed.

We will see these people stand on stage with the Chair of Latino Community as he reminds us of a message-especially relevant today-why America needs more credit unions.


COOPS: Collectively Honoring Individual Achievement

There was a surprise “gift” presented to Ed Callahan at his San Francisco retirement celebration after serving 15 years as CEO of Patelco. During this October 2002 event, a number of his peers and friends honored him by establishing the “Ed fund”.  All investments would become a component of the Community Investment Fund (CIF) of the National Credit Union Foundation.

The Fund’s name was a play on words.  For it honored Ed as a credit union leader and also recognized his early career in education and belief in lifelong learning.

The intent was that the earnings from these investments, split 50/50 between the credit union and the CIF, would provide a reliable source of income to support the Foundation’s education and grant programs.

This tradition of recognizing individual accomplishment by furthering cooperative enterprise is as old as the Herb Wegner dinner itself.

At this 15th Herb Wegner ceremony in 2003, this special effort was singled out for recognition.  The initiative had led to a tripling of investment balances in the CIF to $155 million just five months following the October launch.  The nine CEO’s who committed $10 million or more were recognized personally in the segment below introduced by co-chair John Annaloro, CEO of the NWCUA.

Peers Reinvesting in the System that Gave Them Opportunities

The lead donors and 24 other credit union CIF supporters were a coordinated effort to provide seed funding for cu startups and programs to promote individual financial independence.

It demonstrated the willingness of all segments of the cooperative system to support collective, not just individual, responsibilities. Simply running your own shop well and supporting local communities, was not the end all for these leaders.  In the tradition of Ed Filene and many other system leaders, they believed in “paying forward” part of the success they had enjoyed.

At the pinnacle and critical to the CIF’s success was US Central.  It managed the funds, helped collect donations via the corporate network, kept the bookwork and provided the best return available given investment limits on credit unions.  In addition to making a $10 million investment, the corporate also contributed $700,00 in direct donations to the fund.

This special role is acknowledged by Annaloro in this brief clip:

Leaders Insuring a Legacy—for the Cooperative System

The unique advantage of credit unions is cooperation–the capacity of leaders to join with each other for system benefit.   CUSO’s are one example driven by economics and scale.   The Ed fund is another example of this talent to work for common purpose.

These initiatives require leaders who have the instincts and will to make change happen.  When there are leaders there will be followers. No matter a credit union’s size or status, all members current and future, benefit when cooperatives share their success beyond their own firm’s boundaries.

(editor’s note)

These glimpses of past credit union events are done in the spirit of historian Will Durant who wrote:

we of this generation give too much time to news about the transient present, too little to the living past. We are choked with news, and starved of history. We know a thousand items about the day or yesterday, we learn the events and troubles and heartbreaks of a hundred peoples, the policies and pretensions of a dozen capitals, the victories and defeats of causes, armies, athletic teams. But how, without history, can we understand these events, discriminate their significance, sift out the large from the small, see the basic currents underlying surface movements and changes, and foresee the result sufficiently to guard against fatal error or the souring of unreasonable hopes?

The Community Investment Fund: A $1 billion Challenge and a Lesson for Today

The 2003 Herb Wegner award dinner was both celebration and challenge. While almost two decades ago, there are important lessons from that evening for today’s cooperative industry.

In his opening remarks, Foundation Chair Chuck Purvis described the mission of the Community Investment Fund (CIF) which was designed to be a stable revenue source for the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF.)

In his welcome message, Purvis mentioned the CIF’s current size of $155 million and recounted two projects which embody the spirit of creating financial independence for low- income consumers.  This video is 2.30 minutes.

The $1 Billion Challenge

The current CIF balance of $155 million was just a beginning.  Purvis issued a challenge to raise the CIF to $1 billion in the next two years.  This would create a revenue stream of $10 million for annual Foundation grants at the current level of interest rates.

He noted that this goal is just .5% of the industry’s total investments of $200 billion.  By contrast at June 2021 credit unions hold $700 billion investments.  He described the importance of the goal in this excerpt.

What happened to the CIF and the Billion Dollar Goal?

CIF investments were managed by US Central which was closed by NCUA in 2010.  Other excerpts from this 2003 dinner will show how donations honoring credit union leaders were a critical part of the effort.  In that year this campaign was called the “Ed Fund,” both honoring Ed Callahan and the Foundation’s educational role.   That campaign will be the subject of blog later this week.

The history of the CIF following this dinner is unclear. One participant from this period recalls the CIF situation as follows:

The ED Fund, the Larry Johnson fund in NC and others pushed committed funds to over $300 million. Interest rates had been in a sweet spot around 6% in earlier years, so that after splitting the earnings with the Foundation, credit unions still received a decent return. After the 2003 $1 billion challenge, the CIF investments peaked in the $450-$475 million range.

 Overnight federal fund rates were quite low in 2003, but reached 5.25% in June 2006. That was probably the fund’s highest point. When rates fell to zero during the financial crisis, the CIF was no longer an effective option. With rates since, the 50/50 sharing of interest revenue with the Foundation could never reach an attractive level.

 Several corporates such as CorporateOne still offer these shared-interest CIF certificates.  But unless rates on term CD’s rise to 1.5% or so, credit unions find it easier to donate directly to the Foundation.   When CorporateOne held some CIF investments after the Great Recession, it added .30% to the CD rate as its contribution.

One participant estimates the CIF generated over $100 million in donations to NCUF and the state foundations during this decade.

The CIF’s Lesson for Today’s Cooperative System

The CIF with its fund-raising tributes like the Ed Fund are a premier example of the 3-tiered cooperative system working for common purpose.  The Wegner dinner was a collective celebration of a charitable process that was simple, coordinated and easy for all credit unions to join.

Today this collaborative effort has been replaced by Charitable Donation Accounts (CDA) approved as an incidental power by NCUA in 2013. Multiple credit union organizations including CUNA Mutual, CUES, and Members Trust Company offer programs for managing these accounts.  While limited to 5% of net worth, their advantage is they can invest in securities outside those permitted for credit unions themselves by rule 703. Their only requirement is that 51% of the total return must be donated to 501C3 organizations over a five-year period.

As of June 30, 2021 there were 187 credit unions which have established CDA’s with a total value of $1.084 billion.

There is no total for the charitable contributions made from these accounts.  The CDA option is disaggregated in both fund raising and donations versus the CIF process.  Individual accounts range in size from Pentagon FCU’s $136.4 million to Temple-Inland’s $1,000 balance.

The total in these accounts equals Purvis’s original 2003 goal of $1.0 billion. However today that coordinated system approach has been muted or even lost.  Individual credit unions organize and disburse grants to various 501C3 as they each decide.

Chuck Purvis’ framed his request for support as part of credit union’s “inherent social mission.”  He stated it would send a collective message to Capitol Hill with grants funding low income credit unions with revenue from this $1 billion challenge.  That public benefit is missing in the CDA alternative.

The Wegner Dinners are about more than awards or fund raising.  They are an expression of the collective capabilities of a cooperative system.   Understanding how this vital activity functioned in prior decades can hopefully reaffirm the importance of these common endeavors today.

The Festive Cooperative Spirit: The Night CUNA Saluted NAFCU

The 2003 Herb Wegner Memorial Award Dinner was memorable for many reasons.

There was an atmosphere of collective celebration and aspiration. The Foundation Chair, Chuck Purvis, set a goal of $1 billion for the Community Investment Fund. Leading CEO contributors were called on stage and thanked. That year’s award nominees, Ed Callahan and Latino Credit Union, were representative of some of the best features of cooperative accomplishment.

But first it started with a “grace note.”

This moment of collective harmony is best illustrated by a 1.34 minute shout out that CUNA President Dan Mica gave to his counterpart at NAFCU. Here is the video:

Blogs later this week will feature other uplifting moments from this historic evening—and some important lessons for today’s leaders.

My Favorite Headline this Week.

No, this is not from the Onion or other satirical pub.  It is from the English newspaper the Guardian.

United Airlines reminds crew not to restrain unruly passengers with duct tape

The story opens as follows:

United Airlines has asked its employees to not use duct tape to restrain unruly passengers.

In a memo sent to employees last Friday, United flight attendants were urged to “please remember that there are designated items onboard that may be used in difficult situations, and alternative measures such as tape should never be used”.

The article then lists examples of duct taping unruly passengers over the years at other airlines. Apparently the technique is not unique to United.

United then encourages its employees to use the “huddle process” instead:

In instances of disorderly behavior, United said, employees should resort to standard de-escalation measures, including using “the huddle process … which involves discussing the situation with the captain, customer service representative and ground security coordinator for evaluation and solutions”.

All I might say is that it is far better to use duct tape on passengers than for aircraft repairs.

SECU’s Mike Lord: Two Remarkable Accomplishments

The CEO of the $50 billion State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU), Mike Lord retires at the end of this month. His career is noteworthy for two remarkable achievements:

  1. He successfully navigated 30 years of intellectual contrarianism with Jim Blaine, his boss. Jim’s motto is “often wrong, but never in doubt.” His public name-image-likeness (NIL) brand is an animal of the horse family, but typically smaller than a horse with longer ears and a braying call.
  2. Against all odds, he sustained and expanded SECU’s exceptional level of leadership and member well-being as Blaine’s successor in 2016.
    Succeeding a legend and then taking results to a new level whether in business, coaching a sport, politics or any field of public endeavor, is an incredibly rare event.

“Don’t Mess It Up”

The management consultant Peter Drucker stated, “the most common source of mistakes in management decisions is the emphasis on finding the right answer rather than the right question.”

For Lord and SECU that question has always been how to enhance member service. The mission and vision of the credit union are folksy truisms: “Send Us Your Mama” and “Do the Right Thing.”

When Lord became CEO in 2016 his stated goal was just as straight forward: “Don’t mess it up.”

In today’s individualistic culture that celebrates personal achievement, choosing a leader where the mission supersedes personal ego is a tribute both to the organization’s values as well as the leader’s character. Especially so in the second largest credit union in America.

An example of these values is SECU’s compensation practice. The credit union follows the “Mondragon model” to assure balance among all staff. There are no perks, no bonuses, no incentives and all staff receive the same benefits (health, retirement). This means that SECU CEOs are not paid the multi-million salaries prevalent at many smaller, less complex, less successful CUs.

Focus and Consistency

Several decades ago, SECU’s Board decided to “limit” SECU’s FOM to North Carolina. Those members who moved out of NC or lived in foreign countries could remain, but if they wanted loan services they were referred to a local CU. This focus on the core members who “brung us to the dance,” makes SECU a formidable force against major national banking competitors, several of whom call North Carolina home: Bank of America and Truist.

Today SECU serves 1 in 4 North Carolinians. Rather than trying to be a “national” credit union, its statewide focus has improved economic prospects for individuals and communities that are little more than an afterthought for large competitors.

Sustaining success following the iconic 30-year tenure of Blaine required an underrated leadership trait, consistency, one of Lord’s strengths. While he may have had to go outside of SECU for some expertise, Lord continued to promote from within for employee advancement. Front line staff are much more than transaction providers. Some even receive training in multiple areas of financial service, including tax preparation, life insurance and investment counseling, while earning the appropriate license for each discipline.

Traditional media advertising was shunned. The credit union relied on word of mouth and its foundation’s public philanthropy to keep the SECU name in the press. The funding of scholarships for every local education agency in the state, contributing to teacher housing, new hospice facilities and dozens of other projects projected a “brand” deeply involved in members’ communities.

A Cooperative Financial Conglomerate

Describing SECU as the second largest credit union in the US does not begin to define the scope of its member services. With the credit union at its core, the credit union also oversees the following organizations-CUSO’s:

  • SECU Life is the only CU-owned life insurance company in the US. Other CUs which offer insurance do so as an agent for an outside firm;
  • A broker dealer and investment advisor that developed a unique partnership with the low-cost Vanguard mutual fund family for members seeking off balance sheet investment options;
  • A 501(c)3 Foundation that donates over $15 million per year for community needs in North Carolina;
  • A property management company (SECU*RE) that owns and manages 1,500 properties to provide housing, and improve declining neighborhoods, sometimes even selling homes to members. This company is for-profit, taxable and was begun as SECU’s response to the 2009 housing crisis. Its purpose is to reinvest in neighborhoods, prevent bottom fishers from underpaying for foreclosed properties, and provide renters a better choice than local slum lords.

With these multiple business lines come many regulators: NCUA’s ONES and North Carolina’s Credit Union Division of the Department of Commerce, NC Department of Insurance, CFPB, FINRA/SEC, and of course the IRS for the Foundation.

Staying Local While Becoming Larger

With a branch in every county of the state, the credit union’s over 270 locations operate like small credit unions. They provide local employment, knowledge and expertise for every part of the state. Branch managers consult with local advisory boards and often make recommendations for SECU services or foundation grants for their areas.

Lending decisions are all made at the branch level. Branch personnel are intimately familiar with local economic conditions and politics, even in the smallest community. This gives SECU deeper insight into all things economic when making loan decisions and keeps charge-offs way below peer averages.

A Simple Product Profile

The primary purpose of each SECU product is to help members become financially stronger. The credit union’s primary product for helping members build wealth is a variable rate home loan to encourage home ownership. Its loan portfolio is 74% first mortgages.

For over a quarter of a century SECU has made 100% mortgage loans with negligible losses to help lower income and young folks achieve home ownership. Underwriting was based on the common-sense idea that if members pay rent reliably they can be counted on to pay the same amount on a mortgage to own their home. These mortgage loans also invested billions in communities throughout North Carolina’s economy, not just in wealthier big cities.

There is no risk-based loan pricing: each product has a single rate whether a credit card, auto or other lending need. Each loan is based on individual underwriting, not credit scores. SECU’s Salary Advance loan has made billions in payday loans to members at APRs less than 15%. The program, which also has a savings component, fights for-profit payday lenders who prey upon the least advantaged in the economy.

In addition to traditional savings and share drafts, the credit union has $170 million in a 529 college savings plan, $67 million in HSA accounts, and $ 4 billion in IRA/Keogh retirement savings. SECU’s 529 plan is a financial “safer option” for all participants in North Carolina’s college savings program, not just SECU members. That selection says much about the confidence in SECU within the state.

As with loan pricing, there are no savings tiers based on account balances–all 2.6 million members receive the same rate on each product.

Serving the Cooperative System

SECU’s influence extends far beyond its 2.6 million members. Within North Carolina’s cooperative system, the credit union supports others who might reach out for mergers to offer mentoring and resources so they might continue their independent journeys. These operational alliances continue today with Local Government FCU, Latino Community CU, North Carolina Press Association Federal Credit Union and Greater Kinston Community Credit Union.

Greater Kinston is the last survivor of 55 credit unions chartered by the black community during the Jim Crow era when financial services were not open to them. SECU was also a leading fundraiser for the Martin Luther King memorial in Washington, DC.

At a time when many peers proclaim institutional growth as the critical performance objective, not members’ financial well-being, SECU adamantly asserts this is a false dichotomy. Members are the credit union.

As many leaders focus on innovation and the allure of the self-service virtual future, SECU continues the traditional embrace of a face-to-face relationships– for all ages from the newborn to the retiree.

The bedrock of its strategy is the cooperative model with all its inherent design advantages versus other firms. Member-ownership is the unmatchable competitive difference. It implements what writer Ken Wilber calls “good power” in which organizations protect the many who are often at the mercy of the firms they use. He contrasts this “good power” with the instinct of “dominant” organizations that use their position primarily to protect, maintain and promote their success at the expense of others.

SECU proves that size does not dilute cooperative values or purpose. It is a powerful example of the ability to achieve mission and counter the prevailing tendencies of credit unions to become more and more bank-like.

SECU demonstrates that economic, social and political influence can be accomplished by implementing and innovating traditional cooperative principles. Its success validates the credit union system’s contribution for both its members’ financial health and for co-ops as an essential part of the American economy.

Sitting in the Same Place Where He First Began

SECU has been developing system leaders, not only by hiring at the entry level and promoting from within, but also by sending leaders to over 30 other credit unions. Some–Tom Dorety, Terry West, Maurice Smith, and Tom Feindt– ran billion-dollar shops while others migrated to smaller but no less vital firms.

Lord’s career exemplifies this leadership development capacity. In a 2016 interview after becoming CEO, Lord pointed out his office was at the same location where he first began his career 46 years earlier. Albeit in a very different building. Lord’s career exemplifies a critical life lesson, awareness of one’s “true home.”

In a poem called “Little Gidding,” T.S. Eliot ends his quartet by writing:

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

Lord is the rare exception to Eliot’s observation of human nature. For without exploring, he knew the place he belonged, from the very first time he arrived.

A CEO’s Current Analysis—and How to Respond

As I write this, we’re deep into preparations for our 2022 business plan and budget. We’re in the mood to look forward and say, “yesterday’s numbers are yesterday’s numbers.” And, as of June 30, yesterday’s numbers are spectacular.

I could wax on about all of the effort, the good luck, and the wonderful contributions of everyone involved. Credit unions put forward the capital and embrace our alliance; we go about our day-to-day business; and the results are great.

But I have a nagging feeling about the future. We all have the sense that we’re making money by hunkering down, by avoiding aggressive investment, by just riding the wave of a national COVID approach that will leave us hanging in the future.

American citizens will all have to wake up and face the day after all the free money expires. As American businesses, that means we are going to wake up to consumers being resentful about how hard life is, the day after the COVID relief funding ends.

I wonder what a marketplace of resentful consumers means to credit unions. I wish I had a crystal ball and could tell you exactly what it means, but I don’t. I can only tell you what we’re planning for 2022 and how we hope that will pay off in the coming years.

    • We’ll have to be more aggressive about investment and think hard about what we’re committed to as a community of credit union operations. We need to fuel the future with investment. The hunkering down is over.
    • While we have a bit more time to analyze business trends related to the COVID pause, we’ll have to quickly identify the game-changers that will last, versus the over-reactions and over-estimates of how things like remote work will affect our future. We can’t throw out the baby with the wash based on an interruption in economic models. What will we count on? What will we bet on? What will we make work? I’m not sure it’s going to be as radical in the next two years as most people think. We have options if we’re patient. We have a future if we don’t shoot ourselves in the foot.
    • We’ll have to avoid being disappointed by the fact that COVID might not end as cleanly as we all hoped. We’re making progress, but that progress may not be without some setbacks. Things like vaccines, wearing a mask, and social distancing might not just end, never to be seen again. It may feel like these issues linger right through 2022 and 2023, like a bad hangover after New Year’s Eve. Optimism, and a realistic evaluation that things are getting better, will have to rule the day for business planners.

Wow! These three marketplace realities confront every in-place or new leadership team.

The pressure will be high to pick the right investments, to choose the right trends to run towards, and to maintain an optimistic viewpoint, when pessimism is all around. No easy missions for any CEO.

The pressure is not on a single individual; it’s on a network. For a network to work, we all have to help our peers be successful by contributing to each other’s success. If you want to contribute to our CUSO’s success, spend a few minutes thinking about how each of us can be the person who helps us all avoid dropping the ball.

The numbers as of June 2021 are great. The predictions for September 30 are as positive as any year I can remember. My faith in the future is constant, given my faith in all of you.

Source: Randy Karnes, CEO, CU*Answers, used with permission