I agree that more volunteer representation on trade association boards would be great. It will make the volunteer better able to lead his credit union. The bigger issue is how to make volunteer leadership stronger in general. I think that volunteers need to be exposed to how other boards operate. You learn how to be a better director by observing how other boards operate. Volunteers need to meet other credit union officials and exchange ideas. In addition to serving on trade association boards, I have some other ideas that would strengthen volunteer leadership in credit unions: 1. Boards should evaluate board performance based on a set of standards developed by the board. In addition each board member should have their performance evaluated annually and before nomination by the nominating committee. 2. Boards and supervisory committees should review the Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) law and adopt the relevant portions as policy at the credit union. I would recommend that at least one person on the board and supervisory committee meet the SOX standard of "financial expert". In order to do that they need the skills that come with the title "financial expert." I would prefer that most members of both the board and supervisory committee have those skills. 3. Many credit union officials, regulators and legislators have tried to find ways to promote and sustain credit unions of all sizes. Most efforts have failed and the evidence clearly shows that small and midsize credit unions face many challenges. I suggest that credit unions share directors. Sharing directors will at the least result in more idea sharing and will likely lead to more joint efforts that will benefit members. 4. Volunteers should get information and advice from others in addition to the advice they get from management. I suggest that volunteers exchange business plans with other credit unions to help them improve their own business plans. I suggest that whenever possible that credit union boards meet with other credit union boards to exchange ideas on such topics as board meeting agendas; board package contents; metrics for evaluating credit union performance; member satisfaction; and ideas for maximizing return to member. 5. Volunteers should annually assess the credit union's performance versus the top financial institutions in their market area as rated by deposit market share or some other objective measure. Volunteers need to understand how the credit union compares with the market leading institutions. Volunteers must keep up with the increasing sophistication and increasing community orientation of credit unions. When I attended the CCUL Management Training Institute at Stanford University, the dean of the Business School, George Parker, told the credit union CEOs in attendance that he did not understand how credit unions could succeed because there was not market discipline such as that imposed by stock owners who expect board and management to achieve market place returns. It is our volunteers' duty to prove George Parker wrong. Volunteers need the skills and experience to make sure that members get the kind of return they want from their credit union. Henry Wirz President/CEO SAFE Credit Union North Highlands, Calif.
Volunteers Need to Work More With Each Other
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