The Member-Owners’ Annual Meeting: Compliance Obligation or Celebration?

I attended my first credit union 2023 annual meeting recently.  No, I was not a member.  However the credit union published its Zoom link.   Anyone could follow along with the hundreds of members who attended in person.

The agenda was informative.   The CEO and three senior staff made presentations-all specific updates on future projects.   This formal meeting had apparently been preceded by an all-hands gathering soliciting open dialogue.    Questions were asked from the members,  but few spoke up.

It was a positive experience.  Well organized.  Direct communication that was respectful of the owners. The post-covid combination of in-person and virtual participation expands the opportunities for real member engagement and owner feedback.

But that is not every credit union’s plan.

The Required Meeting Notice

Yesterday I received an email with the Notice of my credit union’s 2023 Annual Meeting.  It opened with these words:

We are conducting the 2023 Annual meeting by Electronic Transmission as provided in Section 411 of the Amended and Restated Bylaws of the Credit Union effective April 28, 2017 (the “Bylaws”). The Annual Meeting will be hosted by video conference on April 28, 2023, at 5pm PT. Members can register by submitting an email request to  Questions will not be taken during the Annual Meeting, so please submit any questions that you have in advance along with your attendance request. Answers will be provided during the virtual meeting.

The Notice then listed the material that could be downloaded in advance, such as the 2022 Annual Report, prior minutes and concluded:

Please note that there is no new business to discuss. The only matter requiring a vote of the members in attendance is approval of the 2022 Annual Meeting minutes. The four Directors nominated will be approved by acclamation of the Board of Directors as provided by the Bylaws.

The Notice ended with a brief economic update from the CEO headed:

We’re in this together 

The CEO’s comments summarized important market events in 2022 and the outlook for the coming year.  The message ends with these words:

Whatever 2023 brings, the credit union has the financial stability to continue supporting our members and helping them deal with whatever financial challenges come.

A Member “Woodstock” Celebration

Next month I was invited to a smaller credit union’s annual meeting to make very brief remarks to members.  To have an idea what might be appropriate I asked the CEO about the event.

It will be in the evening with dinner at the local Holiday Inn banquet room.  All members invited.  We will introduce new board members and go through the business.  There will be a local speaker who works at a non-profit in the areas we serve.  We hope you can give your thoughts about the future role our credit union can play in members’ lives and community.  You have 15 minutes. Expected attendance of 100-150.

We discussed the idea of brief video interviews with members to ask about their credit union experiences.  The CEO had done this at a prior credit union’s annual meeting with the question, if we were in a court of law, would anyone be willing to testify on the impact the credit union made on them?  Member after member told their story.

That is now being planned for  use in future member communications.

Prior to the event,  the CEO asked if I could visit the credit union, see the local community and some of the organizations with which they partner. And have dinner with the Board.  I jumped at the chance.

The CEO expects to retire next year. He has a transition plan underway and wants to affirm his belief in the credit union’s essential role and its vital future.

This is the kind of event that gets me excited.   I can’t wait to see his team, the credit union’s activities and hear the member stories.  A brief “Woodstock event” for the cooperative’s member-owners.  And for me.



One Reply to “The Member-Owners’ Annual Meeting: Compliance Obligation or Celebration?”

  1. The Banks on Wall Street provide real annual meetings for the stockholders. Credit union members annual meetings for the most part are a regulation issued formality resulting in a charade. There are few exceptions to the rule.

    As you observed most refuse member owner participation, discussion or new business. The election to re-elect directors is a complete joke. The board creates a nomination committee of directors. The nomination committee nominate sitting directors for re-election without any additional candidates. It is rigged.

    Incumbent directors resign mid-term so the position can be filled by appointment of the remaining directors. Then these appointed directors get elected by default at the subsequent annual meeting. “It’s part of the old boys club.. They have complete control over the nomination process.

    Sure you might petition to be considered for nomination. That requires obtaining some 500 qualified member signatures, with the member address and account number to validate the signature. How many members are going to provide such information in this environment with identity theft? Not so much.

    Director elections at the annual meeting are a mere formality. These are pseudo-elections. There is nothing democratic about the credit union director elections. Actually, for profit-banks with stock holders voting conduct real democratic elections. And the joke about credit unions: Member Owned. Member Operated.

    There is no warm fuzzy feeling about credit union director elections. You want warm and fuzzy? Stand between a dog and a fire hydrant. Credit union performance is overall lackluster. What is the incentive for paid professional management to perform? With a volunteer board of directors credit unions can expect to get what they pay for! Director compensation is a happy meal after each director meeting and a real nice lavish budget to attend extravagant credit union conferences with all expenses including, food, drink and lodging paid by the credit union. Not a bad gig if you can get it.

    Disagree? Look at the age of the average credit union director and their extensive years on the board dating back to the abacus. Then look at their educational backgrounds, any with business degrees, accounting degree, financial institution work experience? Not so much. And so credit union members get more of the same mediocre service from pseudo-management and directors.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *