If James Marshall has his way, in the next few years, The Cooperative Trust will not only be self-sustaining but also known as the resource for those under age 35, not just in the U.S. but worldwide.
Marshall, has recently taken the reigns from founder Brent Dixon, as the group’s leader.
Dixon founded the Crash Network in 2010 as the Filene Research Institute’s young adult adviser, and with a three-year funding commitment from CUNA Mutual Group in 2012, it became The Cooperative Trust. Over the past three years the grassroots community of young professionals has grown from gaining access to a wealth of wisdom by crashing CUNA’s GAC conference, to becoming change agents dedicated to the future of the credit union industry. The Cooperative Trust stems from over 10 years of Filene research examining the young adult issues that credit unions and cooperatives face.
“What started as an experiment for young adults to be more engaged with the credit union industry turned into a community of young adult leaders fighting for the future of credit unions,” said Dixon. “Working collectively and alongside credit union veterans, this group is already making an impact in moving credit unions forward.”
Dixon will continue as a trust member while he dives into other passions such as Hackidemia, a mobile invention lab for kids worldwide and as vice chairman of CoFED, a network that empowers students to create ethically-sourced, cooperatively run food enterprises on college campuses.
So far the transition has been a smooth one and Marshall considers Dixon a great friend and mentor.
“The welcome has been just incredible,” said Marshall, who has been an active Trust member and was the first international "Crasher" at CUNA’s 2013 GAC.
Prior to joining Filene and the trust, he served as the marketing manager at Plane Saver Credit Union in London, one of the largest credit unions in the U.K. Specializing in branding, social media and marketing strategies, he worked on a variety of projects and campaigns based on increasing the membership base of the credit union and loan application targets.
“I fell into credit unions when looking for a job straight out of school. That was February, 2010 and I’ve been in it ever since. I love credit unions and will never have a career outside of this industry,” said Marshall. “I think credit unions can instill that passion in people of the younger generation who value social responsibility as more important than cost. Especially if you catch them at the right age, with the right messages before they are already out of college and in debt, at which time costs begin to matter more.”
He added that there is also a need to target younger members earlier and would like to see a wider swath of credit unions incorporating youth advisory panels.
“There’s a statistic in the U.K. that people change their partners more often than their bank account, so if we can open accounts when kids are 5 or 6 years old and get that marketing correct from the beginning, that’s going to be more effective than waiting until they graduate college and offering to help them then,” said Marshall.
Building on the momentum created under Dixon’s direction Marshall’s long-term Trust evolution plans include further developing in four key areas of mentorship, online community, meet-ups and product development.
“By 2020, young adults will dominate the workforce,” said Marshall. “We want to increase the profile of the Trust as many haven’t made that connection that we’re a Filene program. We want people to know we’re a group of young people who want to make a difference and be agents of change. In growing the Trust and making it self-sustaining and a permanent community, we’re ensuring that young credit union and cooperative professionals have the opportunity and resources to get involved in the industry now.”