I think that it’s safe to say that credit unions all over the world seek new and innovative ways to increase loan production, and although this is not the intent of the CORE Loan it will be an ancillary benefit of the product. When members realize the good that is being done by their credit union, just because they have chosen to offer the CORE Loan product, they will talk about it and word will spread to their non-member family and friends. And people enjoy helping other people, especially when they can do so simply by conducting a transaction that they themselves needed to do. Also, with loans and other financial services becoming more and more similar, a differentiator like a charitable contribution to the needy in one’s own community will be noticed and will be discussed in the positive light in which it reflects on the world.
But the CORE Loan is much more than just a marketing promotion that runs within a credit union’s budgeted marketing plan. This is a loan that will positively impact the credit union and the community moving forward. The external impact to the community is obvious, but the internal impact that this loan provides can be missed at first glance. The caring and giving attitude will also help to deeply entrench this core credit union value in credit union staff. Credit unions have always cared about the communities in which they live and work, and when this value is highlighted in the way of reporting dollars given back and number of lives touched by the program employees will recognize the impact that they have on the communities that they love. This core belief that credit unions and their employees possess is what sets us apart from other financial services institutions, and what resonates with our incredible like-minded members. And I believe that with a loan program that replaces an entire piece of a credit union’s loan portfolio, and the training and constant discussion of aforesaid program, that this important core value will be on the forefront of employees’ minds, thereby serving as a continuous reminder of the caring and giving culture of the credit union.
Much like this credit union core value, in our home we believe in caring for, giving to, and serving others; but as followers we also recognize that a much greater impact can be made when people care, give, and serve together – this was the inspiration behind the CORE Loan. We all know that needs exist within our communities and that each of us have community responsibilities to meet those needs, but what we don’t always know is how to accomplish it – this loan product solves that problem.
This competition has already rewarded me by serving as a vehicle to bring this idea to light, it has opened discussion about the loan product with our senior management team and our VP of Consumer Lending, and it has allowed me to gather public opinion and raise public awareness about the idea in a comfortable way by simply rallying for votes and support. I had two other concept projects and two actual projects that I was considering for this competition and my credit union allowed me to poll some of the employees to see what they found most compelling and/or impactful to the credit union and the industry; the CORE Loan won – receiving 73% of the respondents’ votes and it has received similar support by the public. There is still a long way to go before a product like this can be brought to market but these first steps have been very exciting and I look forward to the next steps in the process. Steps like researching any applicable NCUA rules and regulations on credit unions making charitable donations, any applicable requirements for additional language in the loan note and/or addendums to standard notes, and the challenge of selling this type of loan program to credit union management teams and boards; all of which will be done eagerly.
I’ll close with a favorite quote of mine that speaks to more than the physical needs that would be met with this loan product, John Joseph Powell once said “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” It’s time for credit unions and their members to be that mirror.