Being a credit union is hard. There is no arguing with that. Regulatory pressures, attracting and retaining talent, slim margins, market saturation…there are a lot of things making our job of serving members and communities so much more stressful.
There are things, however, that we tell ourselves at times that don’t do any good. Lies, if you will. And they keep us from even getting in the game, from making sure our strategy continues to evolve, and from making the biggest impact that we can. The five most common lies I hear from credit unions are:
- We are too small. As of April 1, 2019, 71% of the industry’s credit unions are under $100 million in assets, what is considered “small credit unions.” There are credit unions of all asset sizes absolutely killing it in member and loan growth. The difference? They got good at knowing who they are best suited to serve, have a tightly-focused marketing and outreach strategy, and they leverage the greatest asset in their toolkit – their employees.
- We are too busy. I hear you loud and clear. You are wearing about 83 hats regardless of what position you are at the credit union. But the beauty is that you aren’t alone. You have your own talents and strengths, as does everyone else at the credit union. Find out what you are best at, and what you hate doing. Then go through this exercise with everyone else on your team and realign your strategy and execution based on those strengths and weaknesses. Still have stuff left over? Hire the rest out. I’ll make a bet there is a consultant in the industry that can help you out with your needs in a cost-effective way.
- We don’t have a big budget. Budget woes are no joke. But having a small budget shouldn’t preclude you from executing a strategy for growth. It just means you might have to start smaller. And that’s ok. Starting something smaller with what you have is better than not doing anything at all. What you can’t afford above all else is not to do anything.
- We can’t compete with the big banks. Yes, banks have like 94% of the market share. But we are not banks. We are credit unions. Cooperative financial institutions with an amazing story to tell. Stop competing with banks on pricing and technology. We can’t win in this game because the banks have deeper pockets. What we can win with is by telling our brand stories and using those as the connecting point with members and the communities we serve.
- We’ve already tried that. You may have done a marketing campaign before that didn’t work. But it shouldn’t preclude you from ever doing one again. Part of any program or project, regardless of area of the credit union, should always be success evaluation:
- What went well?
- What didn’t go well?
- What could we have done to make this better?
Just because you may have tried something in the past doesn’t mean you can’t do it better and smarter in the future.
We do have pressures against us, but I believe credit unions are vital to the financial industry. Nearly everyone who works in a credit union believes the same, and has a heart on fire for this movement. These lies become mantras that work against a successful future. Don’t believe them.