Some Appetizers Before the Big Meal

By Frank J. Diekmann

Diekmann Frank

Looking for some snacks ahead of Thanksgiving dinner? Then consider these appetizers, which also have the advantage of being calorie (but not insight) free:

It’s All About Control

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Michael Tchong, founder of Ubercool Innovation, recently recommended to credit unions that they never use the phrase “dashboard,” but instead use the words “control panel,” as that is the psychology of today’s younger consumer.

That Seems Like the Best Option

Also speaking to CUs recently, Kevin Brown, observed that he was asked by someone, “If I put a gun to your head and you could only speak on one subject, what would it be?” And he responded, “Gun control.”

Later, Brown said of his career, “For 32 years I’ve helped people to tell their stories. No one will ever tell your story better than an enthusiastic member.”

How Not to Answer a Question

Here’s something to keep front and center in your thinking around your strategic planning. 

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Deedee Myers, CEO of DDJ Myers, recently observed that many CUs a strategy is more of a “project checklist” rather than an ingrained culture. That strategy as it executes on the credit union’s mission can have great resonance, she said.

“Making a difference or wanting to be needed isn’t generation-specific,” said Myers. “Just 42% of employees feel accomplishment, partnership and joy at work. Imagine if you could raise that and what it could do in the fintech market.”

Also none-to-reassuring, said Myers, is the response she gets from many C-suiters when she asks, “What is your mission?” The response she often hears: “I don’t know, it’s on the website.”

Large & Small Expenses: They Both Add Up

Is your credit union doing this? Pete Hilger, CEO of Allied Solutions, said his daughter got a loan from her credit union while in college. That was 16 years ago. Today, she is still a member with all of five bucks in the account. 

“Every quarter she gets a print statement in the mail,” said Hilger. “Think about how little that institution spent in understanding the relationship they have with that member.”

While those kind of purgatory accounts are a small, unnecessary expense that can add up over time, Hilger offered another example of a larger expense that can add up much faster.

“Who would have thought years ago we’d do auto loans with 10-year terms?” he asked. “A 10-year loan is in year seven before the value of that collateral and the amount owed begin to cross and you are out of negative equity.” 

Finally, Hilger noted that in 2013 Allied Solutions budgeted $21 million for skip losses on auto loans. This year it’s projecting $56 million. 

Snow Job

Credit union partnerships with sports teams have become a near-weekly announcement, ranging from NBA franchises to high school athletic programs.

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In some cases, CUs hang a few signs and make a donation. But some leverage the opportunity for awareness much more than others. 

In Alberta, Canada, Servus CU has signed on as the official partner of the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. Now, Eskimos home games feature a VIP Servus Credit Union member entrance at Gate 9, providing priority access for fans who present their Servus cards. Servus members also benefit from priority lines at concession #2 near Section J on the west side of the stadium and concession #7 near Section Q on the east side of the stadium. 

Mr. New School Turns To Mr. Old School

Jonathan Mildenhall, a former marketing exec with Coca-Cola whose billion-dollar budget exceeded the asset size of nearly all credit unions today, shared that in 2006 he had landed the significant gig in London and was unsure where to turn first.

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“I remember the first day I walked into my office, a huge corner suite office,” said Mildenhall. “And the first thing I did was I called my mum, told her it was my first day as VP of global advertising strategy at Coca Cola, and she said, ‘How do you feel? And I said, ‘To be honest, I’m shit scared.’ And my mum’s advice was find the people who have been there the longest and make them your allies, because they will have the answers. So, I spent Wednesday afternoon for three months in the archives of Coca Cola with a man who had been there 41 years who knew all of the stories. It was like a trip down American History or Global History as he took me through the different chapters. It became clear to me Coca Cola’s brand essence was that Coke was the antidote to the modern day world, although it had lost track of that." 

And More to Trouble You (or Should)

During another recent credit union meeting, it will come as no surprise that discussion turned to  the erosion of PFI member wallet share.

That led one person to ask, “Why do we need to convert that indirect member into a PFI member?”

When another person observed, “We aren’t here to improve the car buying process,” several others responded, “Why not?” 

Was All Ready to Be Snarky, Until…

So, I was all ready to be snarky here after showing up at a recent CU gathering titled, “Why Women: The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men” and discovering the speaker was a white male and more than half the attendees were men, as well. I was ready to tee up the sarcasm to make a serious point about how I’m not sayin’ that the CU movement is white-male-dominated, but even the diversity sessions aren’t diverse, just sayin’. 

But I was wrong. 

As the presenter, Jeffery Tobias Halter, made clear, the audience that was there was exactly who needed to hear the message, as whether it’s right or wrong, the white guys are largely the decision-makers in credit unions, especially at the larger credit unions and nearly all the trade associations. So, if a change is going to be made, those are precisely the folks who need to lead it.

I’ll have to save the snarkiness for something else. I’m sure it won’t take long.

Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at and can be reached at or @FrankCUToday.

Section: Standard
Word Count: 1570
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Copyright Year: 2019
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