it's a very different way of doing business, but credit unions are very different

Maybe transparency is worth a try

You have to wonder — what would happen if you were completely transparent, if you told your members the 100% unadulterated truth for once, and let them draw their own conclusions?

Just imagine the following, delivered by a gruff but lovable no-nonsense sort of CEO, like Colonel Potter from MASH:

“My fellow credit union members…”

“The truth is that there ain’t no such thing as free checking. In fact, a checking account costs the credit union a heck of a lot of money to run.”

“But a credit union is a cooperative. And it’s just not fair when everyone else has to make up for the people who don’t participate very much in the credit union. Instead of hiding the true costs of things like checking accounts and then jacking up loan rates and fees to make up for it, we’re going to be completely up-front and honest with you. So, a few changes are in order.”

“First off, the bad news: a checking account now costs $10/month, because that’s close to what it costs the CU on average.”

“But there’s a whole bunch of good news to go with it: if you have $5,000 in total deposits and/or loan balances, you still get checking for free. You’re participating, and your membership helps you, your family, and your fellow members.”

“Now, since everyone’s pulling their own weight, guess what: you get lower loan rates. A LOT lower. Remember, checking costs money, and anyone who’s giving you free checking has to get the money to stay in business from you or someone else. We’re not going to play that bank game any more. Instead, we’re going to earn it by giving you great rates and incredible service. Same thing goes for savings and investment rates, too. The more you participate, the more everyone benefits and the more you benefit.”

“Fees are gonna get lower too. If you participate by bringing your financial business to the credit union, you’ll have a hard time even finding a fee. But if you are only participating a little bit, if you are costing the credit union money, you will pay fees — very reasonable fees, mind you — for first-class services.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll ease you into it — the new checking fees won’t kick in for a few months, and your statements from now on will clearly list your balances and whether you’re participating or costing your fellow members money. And if you’re a student, or are having financial trouble, don’t worry — just let us know how we can help, and we’ll help you find ways to participate and avoid fees.”

“Some people think we’re crazy. I think you, the members, are smart enough to know a good thing when you hear it. I think you’re sick of sneaky fees and raw deals. Sure, it’s a very different way of doing business, but credit unions are very different in the first place. In the end, I think you’ll understand right away why a not-for-profit cooperative like our credit union is vastly superior to any bank for every aspect of your personal, family, and business finances.”

What do you think? Too crazy to work?

Or might be worth a try?



Brian Wringer

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