NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Are credit unions losing their souls?
That’s just one of the questions Keith Leggett, ABA vice president and senior economist, said the industry needs to consider.
- READ ‘Be in the Expertise Business’ from the symposium.
- READ about thinking on a larger scale from the symposium
- READ about making IT real from the symposium
Speaking Friday at the CU Water Cooler Symposium in the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Leggett lauded credit unions for their “you belong” branding but challenged them to really think about what that means.
“What is the value of ownership in a credit union?” he asked. “What is it you get to exercise as an owner outside of voting for a board of directors? When you look at that ownership stake you can’t transfer it, can’t sell it, can’t take it with you.
“So while you give a great PR line that ‘you own us,’ I don’t see anything being concrete with regard to ownership. On top of that do you treat your members as owners?”
He said an ABA survey shows that while consumers generally trusted credit unions more than banks and felt like a person rather than a number, their perception was also that in terms of convenience and access credit unions were “worn rugs rather than marble floors.”
“In an earlier session it was said credit unions had to be the expertise providers,” said Leggett. “How are you going to become that if people perceive you as being the worn rugs, which I took to mean that credit unions don’t offer that type of sophistication that people would need or would go to get advice.”
He also suggested that the tax exempt status has actually been holding credit unions back from serving their members more effectively in a relevant way.