They say that analogies are the tools of a poor debater, but I love them. Did you hear the one that equated a credit union CEO leading the project to convert a credit union to a bank charter with a 20 year old gold digger who marries a 90 year old rich guy and kills off her mate to earn a fortune? Or the one where a credit union board is compared to…
Of course many of us, especially those of us that are almost devout in our credit union beliefs, go much further than analogies; we demonize the individuals of these credit unions, calling them out-and-out thieves. Like our words, the spirit of our arguments turn ugly, reaching an almost patriotic fervor.
Ours is an industry that has fought bitterly (and to no point) over the differences, values, and capabilities of big versus small credit unions. Now we are picking at each other on an entirely new level: we point the finger and declare past peers, friends, and partners to be turncoats.
But to what end? Ultimately, it will only split us right down the middle. Instead of debating about what’s the best way to ensure the future success of the credit union charter, we are forced to choose sides based on who we like or who want to associate with. We go from an industry known for cooperation and organizational networking to a set of individuals wondering what they have to do to be part of the ‘in-crowd’ or wondering how long before they are on the outs.
Personalizing this issue, whether you are for or against bank mergers, is the real trap. It’s bound to put all of us on the defensive and encourage us to take our eyes off the real problem: elevating the credit union charter as a real choice for financial consumers and the professionals who provide services to them.
So who is the real rat? He or she is as faceless as the proverbial “member.” In fact, it’s not a person at all; it’s a lack of sincere belief that our industry provides something valuable, something unique, something relevant to today. Something worth not only keeping but encouraging others to start.
Ask yourself, would you start a new credit union today? Would it be worth the effort, the fight, and the hard work to build it into something real? Find me some names of people who want to do that. Demand that we promote our charter to those who wish to start new businesses. Find me some names for that list. The real rat is not the person doing something; it’s the ones who won’t.
For information about credit unions that are doing something about this problem, read
"Becoming the Charter of Choice" by Chip Filson. We also want to hear your thoughts. Take a look at the comments
posted below by your colleagues, and let us know what you think.