Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Credit Union Difference

I am fairly confident in saying that most members dealing with our credit union seek us out for financial products and services. They hear about the great service and are most likely seeking an alternative financial service provider. They become members of a credit union with little understanding of the membership features and benefits. So, does the co-operative difference really matter? In order to understand this question, members need to understand how a credit union is different.

First, as a member-owner of the credit union, it’s all about you! The credit union was originally formed by members to serve their own needs and best interests; that concept still holds true today. We, as a staff team, work to service you. You are the fundamental reason why we exist so every decision we make is to satisfy our vision to assist all our members to meet their financial goals by providing advice and services with a focus on our members’ best interests. This is our guiding strategic direction; we must work hard to build trust so that you know we are working to assist you in meeting your financial goals. How is this different? Members are owners and not customers. Yes, every business wants to treat its customers well and build loyalty, but sometimes business make decisions not in the best interest of its customers but in the best interest of the business. At your credit union this is not the case. For example, we forfeit about $178,000 in service fee revenue annually by offering seniors and non-profit account holders access to free banking. That revenue could certainly assist our bottom line but how much is too much? Our competition continues to make record profits for the benefits of its investors, not necessarily its customers.
Second, the credit union, as a co-operative, has a fundamental responsibility to make its community a better place. This responsibility makes up of one of seven guiding principles that make the co-op model unique. The participation of your credit union in community events should not be confused with methods to try and get more business. The purpose of these actions is to truly improve the community and fill potential social gaps. Cleaning a beach makes the community better by giving it a safe and environmentally acceptable place for families to enjoy the outdoors. We recently purchased huge barbecues to assist non-profit groups to fundraise in their community so they could also do good work. Another major project we undertook was the establishment of a co-operative daycare to fulfill a childcare gap in our community. These activities could not take place without the support of our members. A member choosing to do business with their credit union is a social change agent in their community.

There are many more differences but these are just a few for today. The question that I have is this: are you willing to become a social change agent in your community? Knowing that you have to avail of banking services either way, would these two fundamental differences sway your opinion when choosing a financial institution?  Stay tuned for more on the credit union difference. 

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