Does Your Credit Union Spread Optimism?

May 6, 2014
Bryan Clagett

Well, it looks like we’re not out of the woods yet. With gasoline prices once again hitting $4 plus per gallon, there is new fear that fuel costs could derail the fragile economic rebound the US economy is experiencing. Unemployment still remains higher than average in much of the nation and the budget cuts known as the sequester, may start having an impact as early as March 1. I’m concerned. You’re concerned. And no doubt, the members you represent are concerned.

If you were to poll your members, I’m willing to bet that their optimism is still rather low. It may just be their pessimism towards the state of affairs of the US Government or the economy, but low optimism and a sense of helplessness is still more prevalent than it should be. Human beings need optimism because it is the basis of positive thinking and the psychological resource that provides an expectancy that we can succeed. As business leaders, we want people to feel confident and optimistic. The economy needs optimism to stoke its fire.

If a member were to ask “how can you make me optimistic?”, what would you say? Are those crickets I hear? Remember, you tell your members you are their financial advocate. You might even tell members you’ll empower them. How? With what? Sure, you have all kinds of products and services that can benefit members, but then again, so do the majority of other financial institutions. Having a statement stuffer showing a 65 year old couple walking on the beach into retirement as a result of saving for retirement with your 1% APY IRA does not cut it. Today’s financial products and services alone, will not help restore optimism.

I’m not suggesting that we all put on Life Is Good t-shirts and start tossing frisbees as if we don’t have a care in the world. I’m suggesting we change our tone and start talking about what is good and what is right, while acknowledging and addressing the pessimism we’re seeing today. And we need to do this with employees and not just members. If we’re going to break the financial services commodity trap, we can’t assume that our members, employees and stakeholders understand the value of what your organization offers. With all the touchpoints we now have in retail banking, there must be ways we can demonstrate our own optimism through engagement and conversation.

Your credit union and the entire credit union industry, including our trade groups, should be doing more to restore optimism and echo confidence. But we need to do it through action. There has never been a better time for this industry to define itself, but we need to kick it into high gear right now. We need to spread optimism responsibly and inspire people to act and assume more responsibility for their financial well-being and future. Advocacy and empowerment need to be brought to life and demonstrated, time, after time.

At your next leadership meeting, ask this simple question. How does the credit union spread optimism?

See more at: cuinsight.com/does-your-credit-union-spread-optimism

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