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.

But wait! Don't financial cooperatives already have the market cornered as a viable alternative? Don't we offer the most reasonable alternative to using a bank? Are we not engaged in a service industry that is contingent on having trusting relationships?

This week the world observes International Credit Union Day. Less than two weeks later, on Oct 31, the United Nations launches the International Year of Cooperatives.

Yes, I hear and read stories of credit unions and coops planning ways to mark these wonderful observances. The Disclosures will be setting the rhythm as the National Cooperative Business Association eyes a series of events throughout 2012. CUNA and many of our leagues will be doing the same. The National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions hopes to be first out of the box by hosting an event, Building a Cooperative City in New York City on Nov 1st that promises to result in greater collaboration between credit unions and coops.

What do you think; will these all be one-time events or a prelude to a much larger and ongoing series of enrichments that will shape our movement for years to come?

After it's all said and done, after 2012 has come and gone, will cooperatives and credit unions be better known than they currently are? Will we be any larger, more successful and more influential in making a difference for millions than we are now?

All these golden opportunities are being served up to us on one big silver platter, one after another. Wouldn’t you agree? And, they are ours for the taking.

For me, however, a larger question looms. Are all these things happening just by coincidence or are we being presented with the big silver platter because the world needs us now more than ever before?

1 comment:

  1. Walt,

    You are absolutely correct. Now is the time to leverage the cooperative principles of credit unions. The sad reality is most credit unions spend little resources educating their members about credit union principles. We need to differentiate ourselves from the big banks. Emphasizing our cooperative roots is one way to do so.