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I’m Mad As Hell And I Am Not Going To Take This Anymore!

I’m Mad As Hell And I Am Not Going To Take This Anymore!

 (with apologies to the silver screen masterpiece of 1976, Network)

So, what has me fired up this time? I just saw another company ad apologizing for their bad behavior. You know the ones that Wells Fargo, Facebook and Uber have recently aired. They followed the same script. “Hey we messed up. We are sorry that we got caught. We won’t get caught next time.”

Why should I care about these companies? Well, Facebook and Uber both have access to my personal information. But the real culprit, for me, is Wells Fargo and credit unions inability to capitalize on their shenanigans.

Credit unions’ share of the financial market has hovered in the 5% – 8% range for over 30 years. And we are the good guys. So, you would think that when the news of illegal behaviors of Wells Fargo and other large banks became known people would close their accounts and go to credit unions, or at least community banks. Nope. In fact, the opposite is happening. The nation’s biggest banks continue to increase their share of deposits. Since the 2008 financial crisis – the three largest U.S. banks by assets, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo – have added more than $2.4 trillion in domestic deposits. Total savings at credit unions was $1.4 trillion. At the end of 2007, the Big 3 held 20% of the country’s deposits. By the end of 2017, the Big 3 held 32%, or $3.8 trillion. Last year, about 45% of new checking accounts were opened at the Big 3.

To this I say, “I’m Mad As Hell And I Am Not Going To Take This Anymore!”

But what do we do?

We must work together! A rising tide raises all ships. In that regard I thank CUNA for their Credit Union Awareness Initiative. The credit union industry has been asking for this for years. Now it is here. However, we can not sit back and ride the coattails of CUNA. Their efforts must be supported by credit unions.

In addition, our industry has two assets that we need to leverage; committed people – staff and volunteers, and trust. These advantages create a tremendous grassroot strength for credit unions.  With these strengths, we can increase our share of the market one member and one deposit at a time by developing better relationships and delivery world class service.

Credit unions can also become more visible in their communities by supporting causes that are important to their members, demonstrating that we are in this rat race with them for the long haul.

And we need to tell our stories. The public needs to know about:

  • The branch manager who drove a member to a job interview because their car was broken down.
  • The loan made to a retired military person that helped the person get sober and start a successful business.
  • The staff person who met a member at the DMV to fix a problem on their title.
  • The mortgage to a couple who had nothing but a belief in themselves and now own an international manufacturing company.
  • The work behind the scenes to protect people from predatory lenders.
  • The team member who crawled over a snow drift to complete a conversion, so all systems and funds would be available on the next business day as expected by the members.
  • They are owners and not an account number.
  • The other 100 million stories that credit unions have across the country.
  • That “People Helping People” is not a motto. It is a way of life.

Credit unions must work together to get our message delivered. There was a term used in credit union land during the 1990’s, “coopetition”. This term needs to be revived and strengthened. Credit union people are great at assisting other credit unions with procedures and policies. We need to go further. It is our responsibility to highlight the great things done by all credit unions, including our credit union competitor across town. The above statistics illustrate that our true competition is banks, not other credit unions. If we can’t convince people that they need to leave institutions that open fake accounts in their name, overcharge them on fees and rates disclosed (which are high enough without the overcharges) and are guilty of many mortgage abuses, we are in serious trouble.

Now is the time for all of us to get to work to spread the word on the value and merits of credit unions. I know that I will continue to trumpet the virtues and merits of credit unions, while partnering with them on strategic and operational initiatives. But first, I must go apologize to my wife for that thing I did today and promise that I will try not to do it again.