You Can Change Us or We Can Change You: The Choice is Yours
I hate change.
I can sit here on my soapbox and tell credit unions what they need to change to gain younger members, but the truth is I hate any type of change. I had a pink heart border in my bedroom until I was 20 years old because my mom painted it for me when I was little. My parents have lived in the same house since I was two and I've told them many times if they ever sell it, I will disown them.
I have a hard time letting go of the old and embracing the new and so do many credit unions and credit union executives.
Credit unions are at a crossroads right now. More consumers are aware of credit unions thanks to media attention and more people are flocking from banks to credit unions. The issue at hand is how can credit unions leverage this for the future?
I've heard the argument that credit unions are successful as they are. Credit unions have been around for 100 years and were developed out of a recession. This is the time that credit unions thrive, so why change anything?
Take note of what is going on in the publishing industry. About 10 years ago the Internet became a household commodity that changed the way people access and receive information. Soon after this development the writing was on the wall that this was a problem for the publishing industry. Fast forward to today and there are still very few magazines, newspapers and publishing companies that have figured out how to create a successful business model around digital news. Many publishing companies are just trying to figure it out now, not because they are thinking for the future but because the market is forcing them. The end result: The failure of many magazines and newspapers and an industry in trouble.
Yes, it is true. Credit unions were developed because of bad economic times. But don't forget the people that were there when credit unions started and understand history of the cause are also around 100 years old.
I'm not saying that credit unions can't serve older members, but the reality is that older members don't have the potential for products and service that younger members do. Don't tell older members, 'I'm sorry we can't help you. You're going to die soon.' But it's pretty simple. Those older members will outgrow the need for products. If you don't replace those members with younger members that need products, then your credit union is going to have a very big problem.
Back when I was eight or nine, my family owned an Apple IIGS computer. It had a floppy disk drive where I put in my Oregon Trail and Word Muncher games when I wanted to use it. A few years later, the Apple computer was replaced with a Windows PC. I didn't hear of, use or have any connection to an Apple product or the company from that point until I was in college.
During that time the powers that be at Apple could have been sitting there saying, 'Let's stick to what we know. We can't compete with the giant Microsoft has become.' Instead Apple took a look at its business model, examined the changes going on in the world and decided it wasn't going to let my generation change Apple; Apple was going to change my generation.
Starting with the iPod, Apple changed the way my generation obtains and listens to music, the way my generation uses cell phones and now with the iPad, the way we even use computers. Now the majority of my generation from people five years older than me to 10 years younger than me own at least one Apple product.
I can go on and on about the likes and dislikes of my generation, and how the way we grew up has shaped us to be different from older generations. I can tell you ways that my generation can change credit unions, but this time I'm going to do things a little different. I'm going to ask you. You tell me. How is your credit union going to change my generation?