Laughing, Crying, Auditing & More From 2018

By Frank J. Diekmann

Diekmann Frank

Before we close out 2018, which means we’ve officially reached adulthood for the rest of this century,  here are just a few more observations, odds/ends and other stray items found during a year-end cleaning of my computer desktop:

Where Might We Begin?

Washington, D.C. has long been a fountain of laugh/cry moments, usually simultaneously. That would include the name of a recent hearing hosted by the House Financial Services Committee that was titled, “The National Debt: Washington, We Have a Problem.” Gosh, you don’t say. I wonder who might play a teeny role in that “problem.”

The Real Worry

Shahar Ziv was recently speaking to the Northwest CU Association meeting about artificial intelligence. Ziv is the director of global corporate strategy for PayPal and also serves on the board of Harvard University Employees CU. He told the Northwest’s credit unions they didn’t need to worry about AI. Funny, but he didn’t mention anything about worrying about a little something called PayPal? 

Separately, Ziv did share this one piece of trivia learned as the result of AI: loan apps in ALL CAPS have a higher likelihood of failing.

That’s Not a Handshake

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The Fairmont Hotel in Austin, Texas wins award for Most Appropriately Named Bar when hosting a CU conference.

This story was recently shared with credit unions at a session on the Global Women’s Leadership Network by a woman who was relating how someone younger had approached her recently and said, “You changed my life when you taught me how to shake someone’s hand.”

To which the older woman replied, “I did?”

And the younger woman answered, “Yes, I’m pregnant.”

That led the moderator to interject, “I think you taught her wrong.”

First, Be a Listener

Luis Ortega, a professional storyteller, had this advice for the CUs gathered in Tacoma: “Proximity—both geographically and experientially—makes it easier to empathize, while distance from the lives of others generates indifference. To be great storytellers, we must first be great story listeners. In other words, empathy. It is always so much greater than sympathy. Look to your members to understand the stories of those who have yet to become your members.”

You can read more of Mr. Ortega’s presentation, including what he learned from some third-graders, here.

A Great View of the Box

Tyrone Poole, whose story of triumph over an extraordinarily adverse life situation can be found here, told credit unions that when it comes to diversity, he often thinks of a cliché frequently heard at credit union conferences and CU meetings: “The people who don’t know what the box looks like, always think outside of it,” he said.

Who Are The Other 13%?

During a presentation on research conducted by Experian, it was noted that 87% of consumers believe it is important for companies to safeguard the privacy of their information. That would seem to imply the remainder are either oblivious, realize all their data is already compromised, or are the scammers themselves. 

First New York

First New York CU wins award for best holiday lobby display as it collected toilet tissue for charity.

Audience Question of the Year

We have a strong nominee for the Conference Audience Member Question of the Year for 2018, primarily because it was about time someone asked it. During the CUNA Lending Council’s annual conference at the Disneyland Hotel, Kristin Messerli, 31, founder of Los Angeles-based Cultural Outreach, was giving yet another talk on marketing to Millennials, in this case, mortgages. 

I thought I was alone in wondering if the Federal Credit Union Act hadn’t been amended to require every CU gathering include one, if not multiple, sessions and discussion around Millennials. But as I discovered, I am not alone.

“This is like the 100thpresentation I’ve heard on Millennials,” said one person when Messerli opened the session to questions following her remarks. “My question is, where is the session for Millennials on understanding Baby Boomers. Millennials tend to think the world started when they were born. But understanding who Fleetwood Mac is doesn’t mean you understand Baby Boomers, who still represent a lot of business for credit unions.” 

Messerli, who to her credit acknowledged that conference presentations about Millennials are as prevalent as the scrambled eggs at the breakfast buffet, later observed, “I don’t’ think credit unions are doing a great job in talking about their brand to Millennials. I texted some friends and asked and most didn’t understand what a CU is. Yet CUs fall in line so well with what Millennials want in a brand. There seems to be a huge gap.”

T..ns..on Br..ak..r

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With airlines this year unveiling facial recognition technology, how long before this is in CU lobbies?

On a recent flight I listened to a documentary hosted by Alex Trebek on the history of game shows called “Game Changers.” The documentary includes interviews with iconic game show hosts (who don’t seem to age), history and, fittingly, lots of trivia. It also includes a short interview with Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune fame, who hit the Career Lottery and performs the completely superfluous role of “turning” letters that don’t actually turn. For this, White makes an estimated $8 million annually at a “job” that requires working four days each month. During the documentary, White shares that she crochets in order to deal with the “intense” schedule.

Looking Ahead to 2019

According to recent research released as part of the BAI Banking Outlook, the top three business challenges facing financial services leaders in 2019 will be deposit growth (48%), loan growth (42%) and new customer acquisition (32%). While regulatory compliance topped the chart in the What’s Next 2018 Outlook, followed by loan growth and new customer acquisition, it did not make the top three for 2019.

Not the Way to Tackle Debt

There are role models, and then… As recently reported, shoppers can now use a prepaid card that includes an image of one of more than 200 players from the National Football League (NFL) as part of a new product that aims to have both consumer and collector appeal. 

Not sure NFL players and financial products are the best partnership. According to research approximately 78% of former NFL players are either bankrupt or under strong financial stress within two years of retiring from the league.

But as someone who had the misfortune of growing up a Cincinnati Bengals fan, I’m willing to give a Bengals card a shot, as long as the policy is “When we win a playoff, you have to pay off.”

CUNA Internal Audit

New internal auditors stare up at the task before them.

You Can’t See the Top from Here

In Madison, Wis. recently, 67 professionals earned their Certified Credit Union Internal Auditor designations after attending the CUNA and ACUIA Internal Audit School.  At right is a photo of the graduates, staring up at the mountain of compliance documents they will now get to enjoy.

Best wishes to you, your families and your credit unions for the holidays and 2019.

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

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Copyright Year: 2019
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