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From the October-01, 2008 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine • Subscribe!
CEO Bob Siravo Finds Positive Message Is a Tough Sell
LAS VEGAS -- WesCorp CEO Bob Siravo faced a tough crowd as he tried repeatedly to pump up conference goers regarding the opportunities in today's market. In fact, member feedback from the first two days was so negative, Siravo gave unscheduled opening remarks before economist Dwight Johnston's Wednesday morning presentation (see previous page), restating his positive outlook over and over again.<p>Credit Union Times sat down with Siravo to discuss the resistance to his positive message.</p><p>CU Times: How can you be so positive, given what's happening on Wall Street and with the economy?</p><p>Siravo: I know in my heart this reform is going to be good for our country, consumers and the world in general. We don't know what the legislation will look like yet, but I'm taking a positive approach to it. I'm perfectly happy to go on record saying America will be just fine. We will recover.</p><p>CU Times: Why do you think people doubt your positive message?</p><p>Siravo: Well, in today's market, people are suspicious of positive stories. People wonder, is there such a thing as a positive story without a hidden agenda. I'm here to say yes, there is. Positive doesn't have to mean you're hiding something.</p><p>Credit unions are caught up in what's happening in the market, but they should be feeling good about themselves and the work that they do. The positive things credit unions do for the consumers of America is a great story that doesn't get a lot of press.</p><p>CU Times: Should corporates play that cheerleader role for the industry?</p><p>Siravo: Sure, we can be one more supporter and leader; we can encourage and congratulate credit unions on what they're doing.</p><p>CU Times: So if credit unions shouldn't focus on negative headlines, what should they be focused on?</p><p>Siravo: The same thing they've always focused on: meeting the needs of their members. Offer competitive deposit rates and lend to members when no one else will. It goes back to the very beginning of credit unions, when working class people couldn't get credit. We're back there now, and it's an exciting time for our industry. It's not just mortgages, either. People have credit cards, for example, that they took for a special offer a few years ago at 5% interest and now are up to 18%, while the credit union credit card rate has held steady at 9% or 10%. They should have stayed with the credit union, and they're realizing that.</p><p>CU Times: So many consumers are struggling with debt. Should credit unions be doing a better job of promoting the concept of thrift?</p><p>Siravo: We do have room to grow in that area, promoting thrift and financial literacy. Our culture hasn't directed us toward thrift in a while, but we may be re-awakening those good principles that our country has traditionally used well, not just the government but consumers, too. Shop 'til you drop may not be the best financial course, it turns out.</p><p>--email@example.com</p><p> </p><p> </p>
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