CUs want to do what's right for members but they make more money when they take out lots of loans.

What’s in your CU DNA?

Credit Unions care more about their members’ economic well-being than making a profit. Most CU Marketers would agree that’s an accepted part of the credit union DNA, straight out of the “not-for-profit” designation, and therefore Marketing should promote those products most beneficial for the member.

But ask a CFO and you will likely hear a different viewpoint: credit unions are not charities, so they have to make a small profit/surplus in order to exceed operating expenses and dividend payments. Marketers need to promote those products that are profitable, so the CU is able to continue offering more products and better service to members.

So which is it? On one hand, CUs want to do what’s right for their members. But they make more money when they take out lots of loans. Are these opposing goals for CU marketers? If so, which takes precedence: member financial education or sales goals?

Our economy is driven by consumerism, our constant need for immediate gratification. By allowing people to live beyond their means, doesn’t that mean credit unions (and banks) are also complicit — making it too easy to keep buying more and more with credit cards, personal loans and home equity products?

Maybe it’s time to offer “life planning” rather than some boring topic called “financial education” — and truly help members understand that they can’t separate how they manage their money from how they manage their life.

It may also help to point out to your executive team that a credit union that can help members with “life planning” is also going to be well-positioned with that member for every financial need.

Perhaps this is the blend that will make the CU DNA even more unique?

Kent Dicken

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