From case studies of successful growth strategies to content that’s both inspiration and thought-provoking, it’s been a busy month on CreditUnions.com. Below you’ll find our monthly recap of features that show how credit unions are making a major impact in all manner of ways, from niche lending strategies to cultural shifts and rethinking fee structures in a way
Read on for look back at some of the impact strategies featured in the last month on CreditUnions.com
New Ways Of Leadership Development
As the nation’s largest state-chartered credit union, State Employees’ Credit Union ($53.1B, Raleigh, NC) is no stranger to making a difference in the lives of others. But a new role at the credit union is intended to help improve life for those working inside the institution, too. Emma Hayes joined SECU earlier this year after nearly a decade in the industry and is the credit union’s first chief culture officer. As Hayes explains, one goal with the position is to increase transparency and trust in the organization, and to help existing leaders develop new leaders.
Read more in What’s In A Name: Chief Culture Officer
Mentorship programs are nothing new in the industry, but one new initiative adds a DEI twist. The 1-to-1 Woman Mentoring Program brings together seasoned, white female credit union leaders and pairs them with up-and-coming female Black credit union women. The result has been more than just new relationships and increased industry connections. It has also meant an increase in networking opportunities, which had been on the decline since the onset of the pandemic.
Big Questions For Credit Unions
One of this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners doesn’t mention the phrase credit union even once and that’s why the entire industry should read it. The book, Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival Hope in an American City by Andrea Elliott, chronicles one family’s struggles navigating poverty and a lack of available social services. Yet issues of banking and personal finance are almost non-existent in the book. Credit unions have always placed a major focus on giving back and making a difference in peoples’ lives, and this gripping chronicle raises real questions for the industry about its role and areas for improvement.
GreenState’s Grand Plan
After doubling its goal for helping close the racial homeownership gap in Iowa, GreenState Credit Union ($9.5B, North Liberty, IA) has challenged other credit unions to take similar steps. There are ample opportunities to make an impact, insist GreenState leaders, including through partnering with nonprofits, recruiting a more diverse staff, and finding the right partners to better engage with marginalized communities.
A More Inclusive Mortgage
An innovative program at Carolina Foothills Federal Credit Union ($192.6M, Spartanburg, SC) is making the mortgage process easier for first-time, low-income homebuyers many of whom are people of color. The program, which focuses heavily on inclusion, provides flexible underwriting practices, financial education, and partnerships with nonprofits and other local organizations.
New loan offerings at two New England credit unions could increase mobility options for some disabled consumers. Through partnerships with Mobius Mobility, Digital Credit Union ($9.9B, Marlborough, MA)and Service Credit Union ($5.4B, Portsmouth, NH) are each offering loans to help pay for the Ibot, a device similar to an electric wheelchair, but with far greater functionality, including the ability to move over uneven terrain, scale curbs, rise to eye level and more. The loans are underwritten similar to vehicle loans but with longer terms, and both institutions say their intention isn’t to use these as a profit driver but to provide a service.
Read more in Increasing Mobility One Loan At A Time
Fine With Fees
At a time when many credit unions are rethinking their fee structures, TCT Federal Credit Union ($291.3M, Ballston Spa, NY) has introduced a monthly fee on one checking account, but is more than willing to waive that cost at members’ request. The account includes a debit card round-up feature to help build savings, along with identity-theft protection, credit score access, and more all covered by a $5 maintenance fee. While a different, fee-free account is available for members who don’t want those services, thousands have stuck with the new account.
Read more in Fees With Benefits? TCT FCU Makes It Work
Getting Away From The Down Payment Pinch
With home prices up dramatically over the last decade, Blue Federal Credit Union ($1.7B, Cheyenne, WY) has launched a new program to make it easier for borrowers to get into a new home at an affordable price. While some consumers are being priced out of the market entirely, many who can afford a home have still found themselves struggling to afford a down payment high enough to avoid private mortgage insurance generally required for homes with less than 20% equity in them.
With all that in mind, Blue is helping bridge the gap through a crowdfunding model that pays members a higher interest rate on deposits that are used to help provide down payment assistance to borrowers.
Bigger Than A Buzzword
Wright-Patt Credit Union ($7.2B, Beavercreek, OH) is taking steps to ensure its intentions around diversity, equity, and inclusion turn into action. That includes hiring the credit union’s first director of social impact, a role that was filled earlier this spring. The role focuses on internal and external DEI initiatives, and will touch not just on policies and hiring, but also on programs, products and community interactions.
Read more in What’s In A Name: Director Of Social Impact
Tackling Systemic Issues
A problem is considered systemic if it is the result of issues within inherent issues related to the overall system, and can only be alleviated by changes at the structural, organizational or policy level. A trio of credit unions in Washington, Ohio and Puerto Rico are taking steps to address some of those issues, such as working to solve the problem of financial deserts, providing quick cash for consumers when they need it, and green loans for solar panels that can help drive down energy costs.
Read more in How 3 Credit Unions Tackle Systemic Issues
With gas prices rising and the auto market stymied by ongoing supply-chain issues, some credit unions are placing a new focus on electric vehicles. For two small credit unions, that means devising marketing to ensure consumers of modest means those who don’t carry a six- or seven-figure income can afford EVs, while also opening up the market for other green products, including solar panels, electric bikes, and more.