A Credit Union’s Work Is Never Done

Economic signals remain mixed, but don’t wait for a green light to jump into action.


Housing prices are up! Auto sales are down. The stock market is up! So is unemployment. Geithner’s leaving! Geithner’s staying! Debit fees are capped at 12 cents! Debit fees are capped at 21 cents (plus fraud)!

It’s safe to say economic signals are mixed, but the same needn’t be said of our response. To avoid what is called the bystander affect, you must assign specific individuals specific tasks, or no one takes the initiative.

As the grassroots core of local economies, we can either wait around for the skies to clear or we can put ourselves to work and forge ahead in the business of being a credit union.

In today’s Featured Article, my colleague Rebecca McClay profiles a number of credit unions that refuse to sit on their hands and wait for a sign, but are instead unearthing opportunity in the wake of Durbin.

Solutions don’t appear out of thin air. They take vision and a willingness to get your hands dirty.

From local municipalities to the Federal government, everyone is looking for a way to shore up budgets and cut their debt. Last week, folks in Minnesota (including 1.5 million members of the cooperative family) received a double economic blow. The state government shut down just in time for the Fourth of July holiday (threatening a potential $12 million a week in tourism revenue). Then on Thursday, a judge ruled that pensions cuts were permissible, leaving many retirees wondering where to turn for an economic safety net.

The 152 credit unions in Minnesota now have an even greater role to play in their states’ recovery. Whether you agree or disagree with how the budget battles are being waged, these members now need help assessing its impact on their retirement and assistance planning for tomorrow.

My colleague Aaron wrote about Lake Trust’s ($1.6B, East Lansing, MI) efforts in prior shutdowns. For any members concerned about their financial future, United FCU’s budget counseling program is good outline to follow.

Even a responsible reverse mortgage might be worth examining for pensioners looking at tighter budgets. The opportunity is there ... as is the challenge. Members are stranded in treacherous waters. Will you get your feet wet or dive on in?