Fast World. Slow Money.

A favorite childhood fable offers insight into the world of finance.

My husband and close friends have a loving nickname for me pokey so it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite childhood fables is The Tortoise And The Hare. I’ve always liked that slow-and-steady turtle and felt the arrogant rabbit got what he deserved. But what appeals to me most about the Aesop hero is not that the underdog has his day, it’s that this plucky character has a long-term goal in mind and takes measured steps to reach it.

That’s what credit unions have been doing for more than 100 years, taking measured steps to build a legacy that is now nearly 100 million members strong. That legacy includes being there for members during good times as well as bad and supporting the health of the communities they serve. And that’s what we’ve dedicated to this week: Long-term community investments.

In The Value Of The Slow Money Approach, Callahan EVP Jay Johnson outlines the principles of author Woody Tasch’s Slow Money movement, which embraces a slower, holistic approach to life and finance. Although Tasch never mentions credit unions in his book Slow Money Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered, he is speaking the credit union language, and Johnson highlights the many parallels between this new approach to finance and the 100-year-old credit union movement.

If you’re looking for specific credit union examples of Slow Money principles at play, we’ve got you covered. This week’s Q&A with Star One CEO Rick Heldebrant covers how the credit union’s long-term member retention goals lead to more money for the institution as well as greater value for its members. Writer Drew Grossman provides three examples of credit union initiatives that embrace slow money concepts Veridian Credit Union’s venture capital investments, SPIRE FCU’s partnership with a local cooperative grocer, and Northwest Community Credit Union’s relocation to downtown Eugene, OR while writer Erik Payne offers a profile of New Mexico Educators Credit Union’s efforts to develop companies, encourage innovation, and attract capital to the state.

Efforts such as these have lead to the slow and steady growth of credit union member relationships, which today are nearly two-and-a-half times what they were two decades ago. Meanwhile, Citigroup announced last weekthat it plans to trim its workforce by at least 4,000 employees and close at least 75 locations by the end of the year. The $1.8 trillion corporation’s strategy to reduce costs and increase profit will have an unfortunate impact on the people, staff, and communities it serves but, hey, investors might make a quick buck.

April 21, 2014

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