Unemployment in Credit Unions

In case you’ve been living in a cave, which the credit union industry can be at times, our economy stinks. Just go look at your 401K statement, at least what’s left of it. And this go around, the credit union industry has not been spared. With the massive problems that the credit crunch produced on a national level, it was only a matter of time until the crunch hit corporate credit unions. Impairments and assessments are just some of the four letter words being thrown around by credit union CEO’s, CFO’s, and the occasional CMO. Once these assessments began impacting the bottom line of credit unions, the layoffs were soon to follow.

Credit Union Employees to IncomeIn the graph to the right, the orange line is income and the blue line represents the number of employees in the industry. As you can see, the industry has been experiencing many layoffs. In typical credit union fashion, they tried to hold off on layoffs hoping that this recession would be short lived. After 6 straight months of massive revenue decline (the industry lost $3.2B in the 1st quarter of 2009), the layoffs began coming and have continued well past the turning point of the income crunch. Roughly 3,000 people have been laid off in just over a year.

While these layoffs represented less than 2% of the total credit union workforce, many high quality people have been displaced and flooded the job market with very experienced candidates. With layoffs continuing, finding a job was proving to be incredibly difficult, even for these experienced people. What made this recession different however, was the new tools available to credit unions, laid off employees, and recruiters that hadn’t been available before.

Jason Lindstrom AdJason Lindstrom was the Chief Political Officer for a large credit union in California and was laid off the end of last year. So what is a veteran of the CU political process, with nearly two decades of experience, to do when he’s laid off? Try to put an ad in the CU Times is the correct answer. Together with Matt Davis, they put together a campaign to raise money for Jason to place this ad in the CU Times. Additionally, Jason has been active on Twitter and his blog, all tools that barely existed less than 5 years ago. With all these tools at his disposal, Jason has been able to create quite the conversation around him and his abilities, getting his resume in front of people that normally would not have been exposed to it.

Another great example is Carla Day. She too was laid off from her credit union, but has turn adversity into opportunity. Carla created, to my knowledge, one of the first internet radio talk shows specifically about credit unions called CU Chat Up. She has interviewed probably over 100 people by now and has generated much word of mouth around herself and CU Chat Up. Similar to Jason, Carla is also active on her blog and on Twitter, expanded her audience, and pool of potential employers, even more.

Many tools exist today for the ranks of the unemployed that are providing new opportunities to demonstrate their experience and have their resume, and themselves, seen in front of a very large audience compared to what was possible only 5 years ago. If you find yourself in an un-or-under employed situation, have hope. All recessions eventually have turned around and hopefully this one won’t be different. Use some of these new technology tools to help build your network and your experience. The massive “flight to safety” from the stock market and other investment vehicles has inflated the balance sheets of credit unions. Once these assets age, the income will begin to catch up, thus stabilizing the bottom line and the capital ratio of many credit unions. Once that occurs, credit unions will being to hire again and fill positions that have been allowed to remain vacant through this economy.

Credit Union Employees To Assets

My GAC 2010 Acceptance Speech

First off, I’d like to thank God, for without Him, nothing is possible. I’d like to thank my family, my wife, and my new son Mason, for being supportive of all of the long hours I had to put in over the week. I’d like to extend a very large thank you to CUNA for putting the GAC on in the first place. It is an incredible, must attend event for all credit union professionals. Also, without CUNA, Crash the GAC would never have been able to attend the entire conference and become involved with the great sessions and events. Thanks to their generous sponsorship, the GAC was tweeted about nearly 1000 times which translates to a ton of free press for CUNA and the ability to extend their conference to people around the US and the world who were not able to attend.

I’d like to extend a huge thanks to Palmetto Cooperative Services and Mark Curran for putting up the crashers in our two star lodging for the week and picking up the tab for dinner and drinks on a few occasions. Another big thanks goes out to CU Swag (and PTP New Media) and James Robert Lay for the killer Crash the GAC t-shirts. I’d also like to thank all of the crashers and their sponsoring credit unions for come up to DC and livin’ it up at the GAC.

And finally, I’d like to thank the master behind the curtain, Brent Dixon and his design shop, The Haberdashery, for his amazing work at putting this together. Also, Filene, who supported Brent in his quest to bring under 30 professionals to the GAC. Without Brent, none of this would have been possible!

I’d also like to thank my personal trainer, my dog… (cue music)

Action Items: Free (or near free) Ideas for Credit Unions

Two weeks ago, I got on my little soapbox and wrote about how credit unions and the blogosphere are stuck on inactivity. In the spirit of helping to resolve that issue, I’ve decided to launch a new section of the site called “Action Items”.  As you may have guessed, it will include things that almost any credit union can do as most ideas will be free, or darn close to free.  If the idea is highly technical, I’ll try and include as many details and instructions as possible.  If the idea needs a CPA, then the same promise will apply. I’ll do my best to provide as many details and instructions as I can.

Most everyone as heard of SMART goals before.  In my experience, no product launch, job, home improvement project, or run will succeed with them.  So here is my SMART for Action Items:

Specific: CU Innovators will provide actionable items for credit unions of all sizes to digest and implement within their organization.

Measurable: Each idea must have metric on which to be measured against, ie reduction of budget, increased website traffic, or added efficiency.

Actionable: Credit unions of all shapes, asset sizes, and hair colors should be able to accomplish each idea.

Realistic: All ideas, concepts, or products must be grounded in reality.  For example, not all credit unions could send someone to a BarCampBank, mainly from a budget standpoint and depending on the location of the BarCampBank.

Time-bound: We’ll strive to produce an idea every two weeks, or roughly 25 ideas for 2010.  Credit unions must also be able implement said idea with less than one day of actual work. Committees, debating, and political maneuvering don’t count.

I know every so often I get hit by a blinding flash of the obvious and say something along the lines of, “I wish every credit union was doing this” or “Wow, it can’t be that simple, can it?” If that ever happens to you and you see an idea in action that you think ever credit should do, let us know.  Email us at freeideas@cuinnovators.com, we’ll do some due diligence, and then see how we can get more credit unions to do it!

You can find the new section of action items for credit unions under the Blog link on our main navigation.

I’m not gettin’ any action

… from any of the credit union blog-o-sphere lately.  Matt is one of my great friends in the industry, but his recent post on “Steve” is another example of what seems to be wrong with the majority of credit union and bank blogs.  All of this theoretical talk about how we should serve our members, what our core purpose is, why don’t we have a national marketing campaign, etc, etc.  I care about the Steve’s of the world, and more importantly the national trend for lack of personal responsibility, but more important to me is what can credit unions do to succeed.  I don’t want them to think about hypothetical situations or what-ifs.

For the industry to be successful in the long run and not get regulated out of existence, we need to succeed in our niche and do it very well.  I’m part of the credit union blog-o-sphere and I care for everyone in it, but we need to do a much better job at creating actionable items for credit unions to “take home” with them.  We need to cross NBC’s The More You Know campaign with blog posts and white papers.  I want the readership of my blog to read a post of say, “Wow, that is something we can accomplish at our credit union and I’m going to do it.”  McApline’s 30 things in 30 days series is one of the closest things I’ve seen to this.  It provides credit unions with examples and a road map of what to do and how to do it.  Granted, not every CU is going to implement a private, white-label CRM, or use internet video, but the series does provide some of the nitty gritty details that are need to get my job done.

Nitty gritty is not fun.  It is not sexy.  It is not the latest social media trend or technology.  It is, however, the foundation of a credit union, without which a CU never exist.

Your chance to join the NACUSO Technology Advisory Board

Most everyone in the credit union industry has heard of NACUSO.  The National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations is the trade association for CUSO’s across the nation and has been doing great work in encouraging collaboration between credit unions.  NACUSO has a number of advisory boards and I happen to sit on their Technology board.  As is the norm with advisory boards, our membership is fairly fluid and we are always looking for new talent and news ways of using technology to further credit unions.

We currently have an opening on the Technology Advisory board and will be looking to fill that position by the end of January.  In the same vein as Young and Free and Forum Solutions‘ search for a speaker for their symposium, we will be hosting an online video contest for our vacant spot.

If you think you have what it takes to encourage credit unions to collaborate,  adopt new technologies, and want to be on the bleeding edge of financial services technologies, bust out that video camera.  The submission deadline is January 15th and we’ll announce the new member on January 29th, 2010.

To submit your video, upload it to a video sharing site such as Vimeo, Viddler, or YouTube (anyone with robust sharing capabilities) and shoot an email with the information .  I’ll post your submission to the NACUSO website.  We’ll throw a poll up on the website beginning in January to let everyone start voting and give us some insight before we make a final decision.  Feel free to leave a comment with any questions or shoot me an email.

Oh, by the way, you might want to know what you are getting yourself into.  At this point, we have a monthly conference call that lasts less than an hour and tend to trade emails back and forth throughout the month.  This may change slightly in the future as new projects come along, but that’s about it.  Ideally, one should be able to attend the NACUSO Annual Convention each year, but it is not mandatory.

We’re looking forward to everyone’s submissions!

Outsourced CU

Back in September, Filene issued a call out to the industry for assistance in creating what boils down to an Applied Research division.  So far, we’ve already seen the CU Water Cooler come out of Matt Davis and I know we’ll be seeing some good stuff from Brent Dixon shortly.

I’m going to take  a gamble and put my more detailed response out for comment.  I feel very strongly that by collaborating and removing operational barriers to success, credit unions can bust out of the funk we’re in and take it to the next level.  I’ve put together a rough draft white paper on what I call the Outsourced CU.  I want to use the many Filene collaboration initiatives to make this happen.

If you’ve got a few minutes, give it a read.  If you love it, email George Hofheimer at Filene and let him know what you think.  If you think I’m crazy, well, just go easy.

Alltop and Credit Unions

I must have been asleep at the wheel, but through the magic of Google’s Webmaster tools (which I hardly look at) I noticed I had been linked to from Alltop’s credit union page!  First I said, “Sweet, Alltop has a credit union page!”  Then I said, “How’d I pull that off?”

For those of you not in the know, Alltop is arguably the biggest news/blog aggregator out there.  They place a handful of sites into categories and let people subscribe to all of the feeds in a given category.  They’ve got everything from the standard fair Politics section to the slightly more obscure Lego section.  If someone is trying to keep up with an industry in general, this is the place to go.

Honestly, I’m slightly disappointed with the selection of the credit union page.  It doesn’t include many of the blogs that I would consider mandatory reading.  I know Alltop’s secret sauce for coming up with the included feeds is really just by the seat of their pants, but I’m still curious as who suggested the category and how they came up with the site list.  I’m more impressed with their banking site as it included Jim, Colin, James, and Jeffry, all of which I would say is required reading.

Anyone one heard how or when the Alltop credit union or banking site got started?  What blogs do you guys feel are missing from the list?

PS – I really want to put one of their cheesy badges on my blog.  They make me laugh.

Like this one: Alltop or this one: Alltop


It is finally offical.  BarCampBankVegas is now on the calendar.  In typical BarCamp fashion, it’ll be a day long event on a Saturday.  This particular Saturday, May 2nd, is the day before the  NACUSO Annual Convention.  And in Las Vegas fashion, it will be held from 1PM to 9PM, as nobody is really up in Vegas before 10 or 11.  

For those of you who aren’t familiar with NACUSO, the are the trade association for, you guessed, CUSO’s.  The conference offically starts on Monday, but the obligatory golf tourney and dinner beforehand is Sunday.  We’re hoping to get a lot of credit union people attendance that would not normally attend such an event and introduce them to the concept of BarCamps.  It will be hosted at the Wynn.  We’ve got three rooms set aside for us to use with the standard A/V if need.  Staying at the Wynn can run a pretty penny, so as an alternate, Treasure Island is right accross the street and it has rates that are a little less expensive.

Anyone who is interested in helping get some of the logistics figured our, either locally or remotely, would be great appreciated and can register on the BCBVegas website.  We will also be looking for a limited amount of sponors to help offset the cost of the food and such.  Once we get a good feel on the cost of the food, I’ll put something up on Eventbrite so everyone can actually start registering in a few months.

If anyone has any thoughts, comments, questions, or ideas, let me know!

This is what I like to see

Most of you can tell where credit unions are at on this scale,that’s why I’m elated to see news about the National Association of Realtors finalizing the charter agreement with the NCUA to launch a brand new credit union, Realtors Federal Credit Union.  Do borrow the now defunct Wamu phrase, “Woo hoo!”  I hope we can see more of these type of Media Advisories from the NCUA!