By Frank J. Diekmann
One-hundred-million American credit union members? Nice, but that’s so 2014.
So as 2015 debuts, CUToday.info will be leading the charge in the New Year on a new issue: “Now what?”
There was plenty of self-congratulatory back-patting and promotional press releases when U.S. credit unions passed the 100-million mark in membership during 2014, a significant milepost on what has been a solid and steady trend line northward over the past few years.
Setting aside for just a moment that that trend line hides a problematic New York Yankees vs. Miami Marlins division among credit unions when it comes to signing up new members—which CUToday.info will also continue to explore—now that the champagne’s been drank and the toasts made to mark the 100-million milestone, it’s time to start asking that “Now what?” question.
Not to overstate it, but if the 80/20 rule holds true it means America’s credit unions can boast 80 million people are now not only making no contribution to the co-op, they’re dragging on it. Every time the credit union odometer clicks over another one-million people, that’s 800,000 “uncooperative” people, better known as single-service, non-borrowing, not-really-sure-what-I-belong-to “members.”
But just as the 100-million figure glosses over some tough realities, so does the 80/20 rule. That’s an industry average, a so-called rule of thumb (some argue it’s closer to 90/10), but within credit unions there are in every peer group those that have given the thumb to that rule and succeeded in getting members to cooperate with multiple relationships. CUToday.info will be peering into those peer group leaders throughout 2015. Get ready.
“100 Million! Now what?” will be at the heart of much of our coverage in 2015 and we invite your input and thoughts. Are you one of those peer group leaders? Is your average number of accounts per member worth sharing? Are you answering “Now what?” with an “I’ll tell you what”? We’d like to hear from you and share your insights with other credit unions as part of CUToday.info’s mission to “create better credit unions tomorrow.” My e-mail is below.
A Whole Year In Just One Quarter
Before we get any further into the New Year, a quick note on the last one for CUToday.info, where our “year” lasted just one quarter. CUToday.info has made its mission providing news and resources to CU decision-makers so they can, in turn, better serve members. We officially launched Oct. 6, and through Dec. 31 we made available some 1,422 different pieces of content. One-thousand, four-hundred, twenty-two! That's more than many publications provide readers in an entire year. Those include our Fresh Today news items, the longer analysis pieces in the Feature, growth-related reporting in The Boost, dozens of videos in The Vids, thought-provoking opinions in The ’Tude, whimsical entertainment in The Spin, more than 100 white papers and other research and resources in the Vault, insightful views on leadership in The Corner, and so much more.
We’ve got a lot more planned for 2015, and look forward to making you a part of it. And don’t forget CUToday.info sends a daily e-mail featuring the day’s news headlines. If you want to see what you’re missing, just drop me an e-mail and we’ll get you added.
Boost The Federal Gas Tax To Pay Down Deficit?
Finally, something to think about for 2015 that has nothing to do with credit unions. I threw out this idea to some folks over the holidays and got some mixed and spirited (maybe it was the spiked eggnog) reactions. Now let’s see what you think.
Gas prices, as everyone outside of the Bakken region is delighted to observe, have dropped to prices we thought had been relegated to conversations that began “back in the day.” Gas below two bucks a gallon in some markets? And likely to stay there for a while? Whodathunk it?!
So here’s the proposal: why not put in place a 10- or even 20-cents-per-gallon tax that would go 100% toward paying down the deficit? Obviously, the plan requires strict requirements that Congress not spend the money on anything other than deficit reduction and that the federal budget also not reduce its current allocation for debt service, because I’m not saying Congress would do such a thing, I’m just sayin’… To make this palatable, the plan would also eliminate or reduce the tax when/if gas prices returned to certain thresholds.
Would it work? Pull over that SUV you just bought and let me know what you think?
Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at CUToday.info, and can be reached at Frank@CUToday.info.