Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A REAL Solution For Service

I participated in a webcast today where a number of folks provided valuable information and commentary about the REAL Solutions program ( http://realsolutions.coop ).

In case you haven’t heard about REAL Solutions, it was established by the Filene Research Institute in 2004. It is a dynamic program providing credit unions access to tested business models and strategies in order for them to better reach and serve new (or developing) consumer markets. In 2007, REAL Solutions became the signature program of the National Credit Union Foundation.

The primary goal of REAL Solutions is to increase the number of credit unions that attract and serve young adults, immigrants, minorities, disabled citizens, seniors, and other low-wage and low-wealth working families. To be successful in meeting the needs of these consumers, credit unions must offer attractive products that are mutually beneficial to both the credit union and the consumer. To assist the credit unions in that effort, REAL Solutions transfers programs, information and skills to senior staff of state credit union leagues and associations. From there, each state league or association further adapts the program to meet its own unique priorities and that of its member credit unions as well.

Today REAL Solutions supports the outreach efforts of 650 credit unions in 34 states. Oh, and lest I forget, “REAL” stands for “Relevant, Effective, Asset-building, Loyalty-producing” Solutions.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

So, why is it then that in a movement obsessed with a mantra of people helping people; a movement motivated by a distinct set of values and principles (See Rochdale Principles, particularly member education and concern for community); a movement which takes great pride in its ability to serve the underserved, there are only some 654 credit unions out of thousands and 34 out of 50 states participating?

If the programs and expertise provided by REAL Solutions are tried and tested, the best of the best, then wouldn’t one think it’s a no-brainer to see credit union folks eagerly lining up to tap such a valuable resource? Or, are the remaining shops already maximizing the effort with their own initiatives?

After all, the REAL Solutions program not only enables a credit union to LIVE the business philosophy it preaches everyday, but to add to its bottom line by reaching out and attracting many new members in a manner that will enhance its brand identity, both in the financial services marketplace and in the local community as well.

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