Most everyone has some sort of list of pet peeves. Here are some of mine, gathered from many years of observing the credit union scene: * Credit union leaders who refer to credit union presidents/CEOs as “managers.” It was a long hard fight to shed that outdated title. This is not an ego thing. None of those old titles accurately describe the responsibilities of a CU CEO. Managers work for CEOs. There are often several managers in a credit union, but only one CEO. One of the worst offenders is Dennis Dollar, Acting Chairman of NCUA. Somewhere in the otherwise excellent speeches he delivers to credit union audiences, he almost always says something like this: “I understand credit union managers because I was once a credit union manager.” He must not notice CU CEOs in his audience cringing at the “manager” references. How about if NCUA Board Members are referred to as Advisory Board Members, Committee Members, or Supervisors? * Outsiders, but especially credit union people, who refer to credit union “members” as “customers.” The day credit unions have customers instead of members they will no longer be credit unions. This is not simply semantics. It goes to the heart of the credit union difference. That’s why the banking industry and publications targeted to bankers refer to credit union members as customers. It’s deliberate. * CEOs who constantly refer to the credit union that employs them as “my” credit union. It is, of course, their credit union in the sense that they are hopefully also a member of it. However, it is not their credit union within the context that most CEOs use the word “my.” The credit union, every credit union in fact, belongs to the members. This is an ego thing. How much better to say “our” credit union. My favorite story: a credit union CEO was giving a speech in which he constantly used the phrase, “my credit union.” At one point, an audience member asked about all the problems the credit union experienced after a recent and widely-publicized data processing conversion. To which the CEO immediately replied: “When the board made that decision.” * CEOs who blame their board of directors for all their problems. * Boards of directors who blame the credit union CEO for all the credit union’s problems. * People who leave clear, concise, detailed voice mail messages and then race through their call back phone number so fast that the message has to be re-played as many as five or six times to try and accurately note down the number. Slow down! * People who either don’t return phone calls or e-mail messages or do so days or even weeks later. People who screen every call via voice-mail systems. People who leave messages without identifying their organization or the purpose of the call, but expect an immediate call back. * People who need to constantly be talking on their cell phone no matter where they are, no matter how unimportant the reason, no matter how many poor souls nearby are forced to listen to their babbling. They are just so important! What I like to hear least: “Oh nothing. I just had a minute so I thought I’d check in and see what’s going on.” What I like to hear most: “They’re shutting the door of the plane now so I’ll have to hang up.” * Junk e-mail that promises to make me an instant millionaire, improve my sex life, send me on vacation for $1.98 including air, show me how to send out my own junk e-mail, etc. * Bushel baskets of expensive, glossy promotional pieces that are given a free ride with paid subscription publications. These direct mail advertisements attempt to sell trade group products that have no bearing on the publication that is the main purpose of the mailing. What a subscriber rip-off. * Credit union spokespersons who don’t really understand the difference between a credit union and a bank and prove it every time they speak to and are quoted by the media. * Readers who send nasty letters to the editor, but then refuse to give permission to publish them. Cowards! * Anyone who sends news releases to a publication that they either don’t read or have never even seen. The name Credit Union Times should give a pretty clear indication that we don’t publish anything touting a breakthrough in dog food, or announcing promotions at a New York brokerage firm, or a proxy fight at a California bank. * The minuscule number of member votes it takes to convert a credit union to a savings bank charter. It used to be a majority of members. Now it is a majority of those members voting. A handful of members can make a conversion possible. Is that honest? * Credit union trade group executives who complain that their photo was smaller, or not placed as prominently as those of their rivals. Or that they weren’t quoted enough. Or that their quotes didn’t come earlier in the story than their rivals. * Credit union leaders who are quick to take full credit for everything and anything good that happens involving credit unions. Is there any credit union group or individual leader who hasn’t claimed that they were solely responsible for the record number of comment letters received in connection with the RegFlex proposal? * My biggest pet peeve of all is that thankfully small number of credit union people who are completely negative in everything they do and say. They can find something negative about the most positive comment. When they walk in a room, the sun sets, thunder booms, lighting strikes, the lights go out, and a black cloud appears over everyone and every new idea. So, what are your pet credit union related peeves? Comments? Call 1-800-345-9936, Ext. 15, or Fax 561-683-8514, or E-mail [email protected]

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Peter Westerman


Credit Union Times

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