Thank you for your recent Editor’s Column about credit unions dropping the words “credit union” from their names [Aug. 29 issue, page 4].
While I completely disagree with your position on the subject, I certainly respect your opinion and freedom to publish what you like on the topic.
Since I have had much experience visiting and working with credit unions in marketing all over the country, I have strong opinions on the matter myself.
I think that it is useful to think of credit unions as a family. Every single credit union in the world is part of a larger movement. One that is cooperative and founded on the seven cooperative principles.
Over time, credit unions grow up, change and evolve. Hopefully, for the better.
Due to circumstance, environment, personnel, management, etc., some credit unions grow more rapidly than others. Some grow big, some grow to a medium size and then grow more slowly. Some never get very big but thrive in their environment. Some don’t grow and get into trouble. Some grow and still get into trouble.
If we think of credit unions as a family, we would have to acknowledge that they come in all shapes and sizes. Some have huge corporate headquarters. Others have small, but professional looking branches. Others are in modest houses that have been converted. Others are in storefronts in malls or shopping strips. It’s truly amazing, the diversity.
I’ve found that when a credit union grows exceptionally huge, it stops orbiting so much in the credit union world and starts orbiting more in its own universe. It stops thinking about its place in society as much as how it can continue to keep growing. Not all huge credit unions think this way of course, but many do.
So when a very large credit union drops the words “credit union” from its name, I think of it as very much like a hormone-raging teenager who is troubled and wants to run away from home. Such a teenager may even go so far as to change his or her last name to distance himself/herself from the family.
This is a natural part of growing up.
Some teens fall in with the wrong crowd (banks, in this case) and get into problems. Not all teenagers make it to be an adult, sad to say. Other teenagers go through a rebellious phase but then eventually realize their parents aren’t so bad after all and rejoin the family again.
Hopefully, all credit unions that drop “credit union” from their names will reconsider and rejoin the family from which they come. But we must wish them well no matter what the outcome. If they really want to join the dark side (for-profit banks), and they are truly happier with that crowd, then maybe it’s better that they no longer consider themselves a part of our family. They probably haven’t been considering themselves a part of our family for quite a long time, so in the long run, this may be better for all of us.
Chief Experience Officer