Here's a Little of What You Might Have Missed During Q1

By Frank J. Diekmann

Diekmann 2.0 Vertical

Haven't been able to make every credit union conference during the first quarter? We've got you covered.

Here are some observations, experiences and insights from credit union gatherings during Q1 that either we haven’t previously reported on or that bear some repeating or additional thought. 

The Downside of Relationships

Scott Hansen, senior vice president with Harland Clark, recently pointed out that while credit unions take great pride in “relationships” with members, sometimes that can also mean an ironic price to pay. 

Fintechs have benefitted, he observed, by not having relationships with some consumers and from the anonymity of applicants. Those who are worried about being approved prefer to be anonymous, and it’s easy to delete the email or message when turned down for a loan. It’s much harder to be turned down face to face at a credit union, observed Hansen.

Speaking of Technology Irony

Paula Tompkins, CEO and founder of ChannelNet, told the CUNA Marketing & Business Development Council’s annual meeting she has spent 20 years working in the area of “personalization.” But technology has made it easier to act in a personal way even when ultimately it’s an impersonal experience, she said.  “The digital clutter out there is outrageous. It’s coming at you from every direction. Now people call your freaking phone and trick you. No one wants to answer their phones anymore. How are we supposed to contact them as marketers?”

Remember to Dress Well

Obseved by Brett Martinez, CEO of Redwood Credit Union and the new chairman of CUNA, talking about the devastating fast-moving fires in California: “They had only what they had on when they went to bed, so let that be a lesson for you.”

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The B Word

One credit union acknowledged during a recent discussion they have a term to describe an online feedback forum (that’s not available for public) view for members who may have had a bad experience. “We call it the bitch box. It lets them get it out of their system.”

Whose Story Is It?

Emily Engstrom of CUNA Mutual Group told the same CUNA Marketing & BD Council meeting that credit unions need to up their game in one area. “SoFi is almost telling the credit union story better than we are,” she said. “If you can tap into this group and have them become your net promoters, it can be really powerful.”

And don’t assume the story telling is limited to the online channels or Instagram, Engstrom added, saying some old school channels still have plenty of gas left in them. “We hear a lot from credit unions that 'We don’t do direct mail, it’s all online.' But what the data show is people respond to mail. Members have a very high propensity to respond to direct mail versus another channel.”

Near-Death Experience? Thank Goodness

If you haven’t heard St. Louis Community CU CEO Patrick Adams share his story of a near-death experience following a heart attack, you should. You can read more about it here.  Like many who share his unique experience, it’s one that while he might not wish it on others, he does wish everyone could see how their lives would change with a new perspective.

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“How many of you even know the things you like?” asked Adams recently. “I have decided I love bacon. And I can have bacon. I love whipped cream. I love an ice cold beer mug. I love Frank’s Hot Sauce. I love a great pillow. I love the other side of a great pillow. I love a clean car. Do you even know what you like, or are you so busy doing life that you don’t know how to live it?

“I said to my wife there are two things I pray for regularly: One is that when the good Lord comes to take me that my last meal wasn’t yogurt. That would really make me mad. And the second is that I don’t die at 3651 Forest Park Avenue, which is our office.”

For his fellow CU execs, Adams asked, “Are you cultivating a culture where they can excel, or are you bogged down in the numbers? Put down the Twitter and pick up people.”

Finally, sharing what I guess you would call near-death humor, Adams said,  “It’s good to be seen, and better than being viewed.”

Boring? What!

It’s always intriguing to see what other types of associations, groups or industries are having their meetings in hotels when credit unions are hosting their own. During the recent CUNA Marketing & BD Council meeting in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas (I can only imagine how often front desk staff get asked, “Is Caesar here?,” which was funny when Zach Galifianakis said it, not so funny when some schmuck from Duluth says it for the 621st time each day), the group meeting along side the credit union marketers were representatives of Pure Romance. And I’ll admit that while I could deduce their likely product line from the army of pink-bagged (mostly) women in attendance, I had to Google them. You can, too.

While waiting in line for food, two of the Pure Romance folks were standing behind me talking about the Marketing Council meeting. “I don’t know what they do,” said one person to the other. “But it looks like some sort of super-boring finance conference about credit cards or something.”

There’s a Fee for Visiting

Chuck Fagan, CEO of PSCU, told the company’s recent Member Forum in Austin when his daughter informed him he was going to become a grandfather of a baby boy, and that they intended to name him Chase, his response was, “But that’s a bank.”

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Help Wanted. And Wanted. And…

It isn’t just credit unions struggling to find good people to fill jobs. Frank Bisignano, CEO of the combined First Data/Fiserv, told the PSCU meeting, “Everyone has more opportunity in my opinion than talent to deploy against it…”

A Sad Sign of the Times

CUNA Mutual CEO Bob Trunzo was updating credit unions recently on the company’s growth and successes in 2019, especially with its TruStage insurance product. During those remarks Trunzo offered a couple of anecdotes of how responsive it has been to claims. It struck me as he was speaking that we’ve all become so immune and hardened to the world today that few even noticed the examples Trunzo cited included the 2013 Navy Shipyard Shooting and the 2015 Charleston church shooting. 

“Our job is to make sure the last thing those folks want to deal with is red tape from their insurance company,” said Trunzo. “Benefits were paid within 36 to 48 hours.”

How sad has become our world when we find ourselves thinking life insurance is a good idea because there are decent odds we’ll die in a mass shooting.

Handsome at Home

Laila Ali may be a four-time world boxing champion, but despite her accomplishments she’ll always be known for being the daughter of heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, as well. Laila Ali said her father’s flamboyant personality and self-promotion wasn’t just an act when the camera was on.

“Do you know I can go anywhere in the world and they know who Muhammad Ali is,” he would often say. Laila recalled being home once, too, and seeing her father looking in the mirror and saying, “Man, I sure am pretty.”

Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at and can be reached at Frank@CUToday.infoor


Section: Standard
Word Count: 1751
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Copyright Year: 2019
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