By Sarah Snell Cooke, Principal, Cooke Consulting Solutions
A change movement is sweeping credit unions, the nation and the world. We see it every day in the news when old-school e-tailer Overstock.com launches the largest ICO—initial coin offering, in other words cryptocurrency rather than the standard IPO—to date, or when a presidential candidate breaks all the rules of traditional political campaigning is elected president of the United States.
Think about this last presidential election: A highly experienced Democratic female candidate fighting dirty (ok, that’s nothing new) to win a primary against a 70-something socialist who was heavily supported by millennials, only to be narrowly defeated by real estate mogul Donald Trump. On top of that, NPR reported that 12% of people who voted for the far-left Sanders ultimately voted for far-right Trump.
Ready to be a change agent for credit unions? Join the Underground movement today.
An anti-establishment movement is afoot. Credit unions must build upon their founding principles and capitalize! Launched in the U.S. out of the Great Depression when consumers couldn’t get the services and credit they needed from the established financial institutions, credit unions need to get back to their going against the grain, establishment intolerant roots.
Consumers are hurting. Unemployment may be only 4.2%, but underemployment stands at 8.3%, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported as of September 2017. The Affordable Care Act’s most popular plans are expected to increase 18%. Cost of living in some areas is increasing more than 8%. The cost of buying a home increased 7.5% from last year. And the BLS says their income is only going up 2.4%, if they’re lucky!
What happens if credit unions don’t lead the charge? More and more formerly middle-class consumers will not be able to afford to repair the old beater that gets them back and forth to work for that job that doesn’t pay enough to keep up with the price of groceries to feed their family.
Credit unions must take a hard look at their products and services, and really ask themselves, ‘Are these right for these times for my members?’ What terms or policies can we alter? Is our underwriting so restrictive it’s preventing us from serving more good members who need us? Are we willing to risk our CAMEL 1 to serve more members? What technology or outsourcing can we leverage to do more? More loans, more financial coaching, more services. Just more.
What happens if credit unions don’t lead the charge? More and more formerly middle-class consumers will not be able to afford to repair the old beater that gets them back and forth to work for that job that doesn’t pay enough to keep up with the price of groceries to feed their family (up 4.5%).
The Scorpions sang, “The wind of change, Blows straight into the face of time, Like a stormwind that will ring the freedom bell.” Be the stormwind.