At the age of seven, the only profession I considered was a princess or superhero. While I didn’t know what I would become as an adult, I knew that I would stand, fists dug into my hips, with my hair blowing in the wind. I wanted to help someone. I volunteered at local charities, became one heck of a crossing guard at Wares Ferry Elementary, and loved helping people pick out gifts for others during Christmas at the Gap. I never set out to change the world; I liked helping people in small ways, one at a time.
As a loan officer at MAX, I saw the difference we were making in the lives of individual members. Holding hands with a widow during a difficult time or high-fiving a student buying their first car put me on that mountaintop, hair whipping in the wind, just as I imagined as a kid. It is about human relationships that can only be formed by walking together in life.
I have had incredible opportunities to learn our business through my role in leading strategic projects and planning, working toward an MBA, and attending the CUES Strategic Innovation Institute. Among my favorite initiatives, I led the formation our volunteerism program in 2014. Back to the mountaintop, I thought! We partnered with local organizations that were doing incredible things in our communities. We built houses, played basketball at a community center, taught financial wellness, and mentored kids in schools. Through our volunteer work, we met James. James began a community group to help young men who needed a fresh start and clear direction. He had courage, passion, and vision. His non-profit organization was showing impact through reduced crime and higher graduation rates and he was working tirelessly to continue the growth. We chatted causally about his vision and he shared something that I had never considered: James was doing this with a small group of volunteers, not a boardroom full of seasoned professionals enjoying the benefit of collective thinking or varied experience. James was the real superhero, bravely putting his energy into an organization that enriches the lives of others. This was the same drive that launched the credit union movement. Immediately, I knew that I was destined to be an incredible sidekick!
I envision the development of a value-added service which allows credit unions to walk alongside small organizations to help them develop skills beyond financial wellness. This includes training in strategic planning, marketing, hiring, leadership, compliance, and others. Our resources allow us to develop modern tools from in-class training to e-learning to help these organizations develop their teams and build continued engagement. To deliver impact to our community, we can utilize our existing training team to help organizations deploy these tools at a better scale in their business. This enables us to maximize the investments we have made for our own training program in certifications, tools, and professional development. The following examples show a few use cases.
- Non-Profit Organizations – Train leaders on how to develop strategic plans to maximize fundraising
- Small Businesses – Empower staff through soft skill development to increase sales and customer experience
- Smaller Credit Unions – Ease the cost burden to deploy compliance and soft skill training
By focusing on the lives, not only the needs, of these organizations, we will help them thrive and continue the mission.
The credit union industry faces threats including regulations, customer expectation changes, and removal of tax-exemptions, surfacing at the fastest rate yet. We cannot continue to wear the badge of dividend rebates, financial education, or sponsorships as our contribution to the wellbeing of our communities.
Differentiation isn’t competitive rates, digital tools, or a customer experience program. Differentiation requires real relationships.
This proposal is a targeted contribution that lifts our communities by supporting others who work towards the improvement of our cities. The pricing model of this initiative may vary with the following options:
- A complimentary, value-added service for our members
- Yearly subscription model
- A small fee based on the business’ revenue.
This is a vision for future growth; it will not drive our revenue immediately, but enrichment of our communities is critical for our movement.
It is time to return to the original value proposition of member impact that made credit unions successful in the beginning.
We must remember that our small investment in the success of these organizations will pay dividends to our markets, and our organization, in the future. After all, the sidekick always gets to celebrate with the superhero.