The Business Breakdown: Real Talk

Personal debt, grocery deals and extreme couponing are in the news. Throw in some facial recognition, and let's see what it all means for credit unions.


Real talk. It’s an expression that people use when they are being straightforward (sometimes painfully so) or heartfelt with a friend. It shows up as a hashtag on Twitter from time to time, and you'll hear it around town.

In case you're unfamiliar, I'll use it in a couple sentences:  
“John. Real talk, that tie you are wearing is hideous.”
“Steve, thanks for all the support you’ve given me recently. It means a lot. Real talk.”

The economic events of the past few years are the definition of real talk. Everyone has made changes, and people have faced realities whether they wanted to or not. But now, it’s time to take those lessons and transform them into positives.

  • Budget Balance: USA Today offers five tips to help you maintain appropriate personal spending levels. Managing long-term debt correctly and watching the fine print are two of the best suggestions. The Breakdown: Members all have a budget. The issue for cooperatives is what you can do to make it stretch wider or even grow. Maybe the member could use a refinance. Or perhaps you could help him or her consolidate loans that they have at other financial institutions. Some credit unions are offering quick sit-downs with members to see if they can help them save. Sounds like a great place to start. Members have endured the reality of the recession; now you can bring them the reality of hope.
  • Grocery Grab Bag: The N.Y. Times takes a look at how shopping has changed in light of the recession. One way? The discounts of five for $5 and more are here to stay. The Breakdown: How can you use the appeal of this pricing model to benefit your cooperative? Get your management team together and brainstorm it. Members are looking for maximum value. Be that value source.
  • Collect The Coupons: One college student has turned her love of a TV show into $300-per-month savings for her family. And she did it all through coupons. The Breakdown: This story presents two ideas. First, where does your credit union stand in the digital coupon game? You should be exploring ways to engage members via online channels and get them interested in your products. Second, what kind of promotions are you using to get members into the branch? Are you using social media such as Facebook and Twitter not only to interact with people but also to draw interest? You have to differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace. Real talk: People have too much going on now to notice you if you don’t make it easy for them.
  • I Know Your Face: Slate has an odd look at the growing prevalence of facial recognition technology. Apparently, it will become commonplace in many walks of life. The Breakdown: Although it might seem like a weird invasion of privacy, facial recognition technology could be a potential security boon to your credit union. Might be worth investigating the technology now to see what it can do. It’s probably too early to invest, but you’ll want to be equipped when the prices become manageable.

As these stories illustrate, there are innumerable ways to help members improve their lives. You just have to approach everything with the proper attitude.

My favorite band has a song called “In Hiding.” I've included the video below if you're interested. One of the lyrics in the song is relevant here: “It’s funny when things change so much/It’s all state of mind.”

That’s some real talk right there.