Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way
The credit union industry has many leaders: Credit unions that excel at their business, credit unions that assist other credit unions, and volunteers who spend their free time sifting through inches-thick board packets rather than plopping down for another "Law & Order" rerun.
Credit unions are leaders not only in the U.S. but around the world. The World Council of Credit Unions has had much success in delivering financial services into the hands of the underserved. Employing mobile banking technology to serve the most underserved of areas has been a great way to get these folks in the doors of credit unions and a step toward bettering their financial situations.
Cliff Rosenthal, head of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions, said his organization was working on a pilot some time ago, but the timing wasn't right. Now might be the time to revisit it, he added. Agreed.
One CDCU is taking a stab at it. Maria Martinez, president/CEO of the Border Federal Credit Union in Texas, has been exploring mobile banking for the last three months. It's not as if she didn't want to provide this option to the 21,000 members of her $98 million community development credit union, but the costs were prohibitive. She explained that they've come down some and the credit union is finally moving forward.
Credit unions should be run in a democratic manner with a board representative of the membership. At the same time, no one wants just anyone running financial institutions just as you wouldn't want just anyone running the government. (I'm really fighting back the jokes running through my head right now.) Seriously, agree with President Obama or not, he's of above-average intelligence and motivation. The average Joe or Jane American would not be equipped for the job.
If a credit union board member is not fully educated when it comes to what is going on within the institution, the board is opening itself up to chaos at the institution as well as personal liability. If board members do not comprehend what is going on at the institution, a fraudulent or rogue CEO could run roughshod all over them and the credit union.
Preparation is key to everything from sports to business. The Crash Network was created to help young executives continue and progress their careers within credit unions. By educating themselves on the industry and meeting industry legends-without being forced to by regulation-these up-and-comers are galvanizing the future of the industry.
Similarly, TMG's Jeff Russell recently launched the blog PlanBPhilosophy.com, which is dead-on in encapsulating the way we're all living today. The idea behind it is what if what you were planning on doing doesn't work out. In one entry, he highlights how the Chicago Bears' third-string quarterback could have not practiced as hard as he did because his chances of playing were virtually zip. But he did prepare and when his time to shine in the playoffs came, he was nearly able to turn the game around. Third stringers must be prepared to step in and lead when others are injured or benched and the coach (or board) must have faith in them for Plan B to come together.