By Jim Giacobbe
“I am not afraid to go up to people and pick their brains and ask for advice. To me, that’s how you get better. That is how I have gotten better at everything I have ever done. “Don’t be too proud to ask for help.” – David Bautista, American actor, retired professional wrestler, mixed martial artist and bodybuilder.
The United Solutions CUSO wants to help credit unions become stronger, more efficient, and profitable. With so many credit union CEOs retiring, and new CEOs stepping in, we feel there is a need for a mentoring program. Just like David Bautista said in his quote, we all need advice to get better and grow stronger.
We have witnessed credit unions that are keeping too much cash for branch operations, when they could be investing millions and making money. We spoke to a credit union CEO who proudly gave out a 3.25% auto loan to a member with a 419 FICO Score and didn’t understand why that was wrong. We have watched a credit union open a branch in a restricted building where members needed security badges and couldn’t enter the building. We talked with a credit union that converted to a community charter in 2006 and continues to use the name of a now defunct sponsor. Few in the community understand that they are welcome to join, and the credit union is in decline. We sat waiting to speak with a new CEO who had a line of people waiting to see him. When we asked who all these people were, the CEO said they were members who only want the CEO to perform their transactions.
Isolation at the Top
Each of these CEOs are very capable, intelligent people who just need a little help. Sometimes they inherit boards that don’t know the industry and are not able to provide meaningful assistance. Other times, CEOs don’t want to ask their board members for advice because they don’t want the board to know they don’t have all the answers. There can be a great deal of isolation at the top, with everyone including the CEO’s own staff trying to prove them wrong.
The United Solutions Company was formed in 1983 for the sole purpose of helping credit unions. It is for this reason that we are starting the Credit Union Rescue Team, to help credit unions by providing true collaborative assistance. We are looking for seasoned volunteers to donate between 30 minutes and an hour per week for 10 weeks to help a credit union in need. Once the 10 weeks are up, it will be up to the credit union and the advisor to decide if you will continue to work together.
It may be that a credit union is assigned more than one advisor over a period, depending upon their needs. For instance, a credit union may need investment advice, or they may not understand technology. Maybe they don’t understand the impact of their sky rocketing delinquency is having on the credit union. They could need help with loan pricing, marketing, business intelligence, and other areas where you are an expert.
Credit Unions Helping Credit Unions
Advisors don’t have to be experts with everything. In fact, few can help in all areas, so don’t let that stop you from volunteering. The credit unions will have a website where they can sign up anonymously, and United Solutions will pair advisors with credit union executives. All volunteers are vetted, and the pairing is agreed upon by both advisor and credit union. This is about credit unions helping credit unions.
If you are interested in being an advisor and donating for a 10-week period, inquire at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jim Giacobbe is president of United Solutions, Tallahassee, Fla.