Monday, December 26, 2011


Alas, we are standing at the front door of the New Year, 2012. Ready to cross over the threshold to greet all that will come our way this year?

Considering everything we’ve been through these last several years, what more can come as a surprise? My hope is that 2012—The International Year of Cooperatives—will turn the tide and see credit unions once again take charge of their own destiny in ways that offer more aggregation, more safety, more cooperation, and more prosperity. 

Having seen the news last week about U.S. Central Bridge and NCUA’s plan to shutter its operation, I can’t help but think back a decade to a time when all the talk about the corporate network consisted of who would replace Gigi Hyland upon her departure as CEO of the Association of Corporate Credit Unions; which corporate is in merger talks and who will offer me the most yield today on my investments.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Some Things Are Better Left Unsaid

I am puzzled. What would prompt The Credit Union Times to publish an article spotlighting one person's political views on the “Occupy” movement, as well as their judgmental way of generalizing a certain group as being “spoiled, selfish, dopey, left-wing idiots?” Outside of an opinion column, how does such unsavory characterizations warrant news coverage? Come on, was it really that slow of a news day?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The Legacy—The Age of Cooperatives

The International Year of Cooperatives is finally underway, fueling a myriad of global opportunities served up on a silver platter for all cooperatives in all sectors; opportunities that can be creatively harnessed to educate all peoples on the inherent value of the cooperative business model.

If there ever was a time when the world needed a business model rooted in values and principles, now is the perfect time for us to step forward. Now is the time for all cooperative leaders to take to the airwaves. Now is the time for member/owners to tell their neighbors why they belong to a food co-op, a housing co-op or a credit union. And, now is especially the time for cooperative evangelists to herald the tidings of hope, equity and dignity that come with membership in a co-op.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Opportunities On A Silver Platter

First there was TARP in 2008 and the bailout of the banks using taxpayer money. Then came the return of hugeprofits and executive bonuses. Now, we're seeing the addition of new fees, such as those announced by B of A for users of its ATM card. 

Needless to say, such events have fueled an ever increasing frustration among American consumers, elevating their mistrust of bankers and Wall Street investors like never before. It's most apparent in the recent "Occupy Wall Street" demonstrations that are now spreading throughout the world.

If there was ever a time for someone with an alternative to the for-profit shareholder business model, now would be the time to step forward.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Are Credit Unions Missing the Boat?

Recently, I took a tour of the San Diego Maritime Museum and while I walked the decks of a frigate and schooner and crawled through the belly of a Soviet era Foxtrot-class attack submarine, I found myself imagining what it must have been like to those who actually sailed the high seas in these astonishing vessels.

First of all, there’s not a lot of room for comfort. Unless you were the captain or high ranking officer, you practically lived the entire day rubbing elbows with all those around you. Second, when you put out to sea, you were confined to that vessel for months. And third, I could only imagine how these conditions bonded everyone on board, giving them plenty of reasons to get to know one another, to communicate with each other (remember, there was no TV or Internet connectivity) and most especially, to depend on one another to safely and successfully reach the port of their destination. I took some photos aboard the Star of India, the HMS Surprise and the Foxtrot B-39, and you can see them all at Shutterfly.

Today, however, such voyages have taken to the open sky and the comfort of airships flying at 550 mph and offering frills like reclining seats, XM Satellite Radio and Direct TV. Albeit, passengers are still crammed into a very confining space, but the tendency to bond with others making the journey has given way for the most part to where we now exchange only a brief glance and possibly only a few words, like, “Excuse me, but that’s my seat.”

It’s no wonder then, that when we hear someone say, “We’re all in the same boat,” we have difficulty truly appreciating all that it might imply.

Yet, wouldn’t you agree that all of us associated with credit unions are in fact, all in the same boat, together?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

What If . . . You Banked at a Co-op?

In the May/June issue of The Cooperative Business Journal, Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union finds itself in the spotlight once again for another trendsetting approach it has embraced in an effort to further cultivate its sterling image in the community. The full-page article, Banking on the Co-op Brand: How Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union Boosted Membership by Celebrating its Co-op Roots, is also laid-out around a print advertisement the credit union is currently running to make its point. The ad asks, “What if . . . you banked at a co-op?”

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Improve Ways to Tell Your Story to Offset Shrinking CDRLF and CDFI Allocations

If you are an executive at a Community Development Credit Union or at a designated Community Development Financial Institution and dependent on grants to sustain your programs, you already know that how you complete the grant application process determines your chances for securing the funds on which your program relies. Well, stand by because the application process is about to get even more challenging!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Do you believe that in a cooperative society, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?

I couldn’t help but consider the concept after reading an article last week in the Credit Union Times. Submitted by Natasha Chilingerian, it was titled, Credit Unions Lag for First Time in Annual Online Banking Survey

Monday, March 21, 2011

Twelve Ideas to Mark the Observance of the International Year of Co-operatives

The United Nations 2012 International Year of Co-operatives is only several months away. This year-long observance promises a wealth of opportunities for credit unions, delivered on a silver platter. All we have to do is capitalize on them, whether they are opportunities to herald our cooperative brand distinction in the marketplace, gain increased exposure through the news media, or because of a heightened understanding of what credit unions are, grow our membership to levels never seen before.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


When Filene and Bergengren sowed the seeds of cooperation as a guiding principle to a nascent movement of credit unions back in the 1930s and 40s, they engendered within our system a distinct power and ability to grapple with change, to adapt and to survive.

Although there are some who I’m sure will argue that such a power does not exist, given ongoing mergers and all the recent failures, I contend that it is quite alive and in fact even thriving.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Online Video: The Gateway to Building & Sustaining Customer Loyalty


Mia Saini, a reporter with the Forbes Video Network, brings word from Ben Verwaayen at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that video will lead innovation in the years to come. My message to credit unions and cooperatives after reading Mia’s blog and reviewing the findings of several Internet marketing research groups — NOW is the time to creatively harness video for your shop. Waiting for more data on R-O-I only gives your competitors that much more time to get out in front of you, transacting new business, solidifying member relationships and even attracting new members—NEW members and NEW business that could be YOURS!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Ever do a search on YouTube using the key words, credit union? If you haven’t, you might want to get a feel for the countless videos posted to this popular site by credit unions, leagues, associations, and those of us like me who have an affinity for the movement.

When you do your search, you’ll come across campaign videos like those recently completed for the Nebraska Credit Union League. Those were the latest salvo in the credit union vs. bank series of videos I found. Other leagues and associations had their videos posted as well. Even the Ghana Cooperative Credit Union Association  had a presence. And yes, the NCUA was also among the mix, making sure that our friend Suzie was up front and center. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Happy New Year to all who embrace the cooperative principles!

We are now less than one year away from the start of the United Nation’s International Year of Cooperatives and one way I believe that credit unions (as financial cooperatives) can prepare to celebrate this once-in-lifetime event, should be in association with the new financial literacy rule on federal credit unions.