New Job Titles Reflect Important Aspirations

Credit union title changes demonstrate the movement's stance on member service.

Changing job titles the titles themselves, not the people holding them is not really a new thing at credit unions. But there’s a new wave of them that are interesting and promising.

These new titles have a distinct focus on the member. They’re aspirational. And they clearly show what the credit union values and is trying to achieve.

A decade ago, Ent Credit Union ($5.2B, Colorado Springs, CO) provided a good example of this when it changed the collections department to member solutions during the housing crisis. Bill Vogeney, who is still Ent’s chief revenue officer, explains more in this January 2009 column titled A Wake-Up Call For Credit Unions.

Ent was dedicated to keeping people in their homes, not taking their shelter away. That’s the credit union way. That’s the credit union difference.


And the Colorado cooperative was hardly alone. Variations on the job title advocate became ubiquitous during this time, and they still are.

But what does that title really mean? Too often that advocate does anything but advocate for the consumer, customer, member, patient, etc. It’s lip service at best. Don’t be that guy.

Too often that advocate is really paid to do anything but advocate for the consumer, customer, member, patient, etc. It’s lip service at best. Don’t be that guy.

If credit unions don’t want to get swallowed up in that sea of cynicism that is destroying consumer trust in America, then it’s time to live up to those titles. Consider what member advocate really means. What does the title say about the credit union’s member service? And how will the credit union prove it is putting its money where its moniker is?

That’s the commitment Listerhill Credit Union ($780.3M, Sheffield, AL) made when it re-titled its universal employees to member advocates. A universal employee is all about the employee someone who can do everything. A member advocate is all about the member making sure that everything done is in the member’s best interest.

Do those interests ever align? Of course they do. In fact, they typically should. If they don’t, it might be time to ask some tough questions about why.

It’s Time For Tough Questions

Asking tough questions helps the credit union movement flourish. Make Callahan’s Tough Questions commentary on a regular stop for insight on thinking differently about the movement and framing strategies for success.

That’s one of the beauties of our Callahan Roundtables. They provide a forum for credit union leaders to share openly and in confidence how their own operations are responding to ever-changing market challenges and imperatives. I hosted a roundtable this year that was specifically dedicated to the member experience. Attendees talked about the emergence of new acronyms like MX (member experience) and UX (user experience) and about the emergence of new titles like chief experience officer.

We just launched a new series on about job titles. The first is about the emerging channels innovation architect at Credit Human FCU ($3.0B, San Antonio, TX). That title struck me as a particularly intriguing because, whereas Adele Glenn does not typically interact with members directly, her role in identifying and guiding the development of new products and services is critical to making sure the big Texas credit union stays on the leading edge of providing member-focused value.

Until recently, Credit Human was San Antonio FCU, well known and respected as SACU in its crowded market and in our industry. It chose the new name to emphasize its focus on the aspirational values of being a member-owned financial institution. Putting someone in the role of emerging channels innovation architect reflects the commitment to meeting that raised bar.

Bringing members into the conversation of what they want from their financial institutions is a great way to develop a truly member-centric lens. Read more about that in Are Credit Unions All About Their Members?

The changing terminology has editorial consequences, by the way. We’ll probably keep using CEO without spelling it out because we all know who that is, right? Most readers don’t take that to mean chief experience officer. But what about CIO? Is that your chief information officer? Your chief investment officer? Your chief innovation officer?

Those are semantics, although that term has become somewhat cheapened in popular usage to mean empty rhetoric. But words matter, and so do titles. They aren’t just semantics. Credit unions raise the bar when they use titles like member advocate, and how well they meet that measure affects members, the credit union, and the movement itself.

It’s about perception and aspiration. How well do your titles explain who your credit union is and what it wants to achieve?

What’s in your names?

This article appeared originally in Credit Union Strategy & Performance. Read More Today.

May 21, 2018

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