I am thrilled to announce that CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec is back for a third year. We gave the website a total refresh and have made a number of key changes including...Read More
About two years ago now, Christopher Stevenson from the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES) approached me with an idea, "What do you think about partnering on something like Young & Free for the credit union industry?"Read More
This is a guest blog post that I contributed to the Credit Union Times blog.
The lack of young credit union members has been a hot topic for awhile. A growing number of credit unions and leagues are taking this potentially industry-ending issue seriously and are actively pursuing younger members. But what are credit unions doing to attract, retain and reward the future leaders of the industry?
It is well-documented that the average age of a credit union member is fast approaching 50, more than a decade older than the average age of the general population. I would hazard a guess that the average age of a credit union employee is equally as old. In addition, Gen Y is less likely than baby boomers to stick to a single industry for their careers. Before we give up, a number of signs of hope have emerged recently.
Sign #1: An ever-expanding group of young credit union advocates are online writing, debating, chatting and even singing about the power of credit unions. Social networks including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are chockfull of credit union people connecting and collaborating. Numerous live Internet radio and video shows have popped up talking about credit union issues. There are a number of credit union bloggers making their ideas and opinions known. People are even live blogging from the traditional conferences that used to be the sole domain of our white-haired CEOs and directors. There is a palatable sense of urgency, unrest and passion brewing.
Sign #2: The CUDE program. I keep running into these "DEs" at conferences and they seem to be getting younger and younger. I don't know exactly what happens during the intense week-long training sessions, but whatever it is seems to fire up credit union people to take interest and action. When you talk to a DE, you can tell that credit unions are now in their blood and that they see being a credit union lifer as a viable and rewarding career option.
Sign #3: Crash.coop. From the Crash website: "We’re a group of young credit union professionals catalyzing the movement through meetups, development projects, online collaboration and mentorships." Headed up by Brent Dixon of the Filene Research Institute, this group of passionate, young credit union advocates is growing. About 20 under-30 "Crashers" first crashed the GAC in Washington, DC in February and another 10 or so new Crashers just crashed The 1 Credit Union Conference in Vegas in July. There are plans for the Crash movement to spread to league conferences and into mentorship programs in various states. The key for the Crashers will be to keep the fire going and growing.
Sign #4: Next Top Credit Union Exec. This is a social media challenge marketing program Currency Marketing is co-producing with CUES. More than $50,000 in prizes will be awarded, plus the title of the Next Top Credit Union Exec. The field of 41 entrants has been narrowed to six finalists. It has been exciting and very encouraging to see the depth of talent and passion from young credit union professionals in every discipline. It is also very encouraging that a deeply respected organization such as CUES is taking the next generation very seriously.
These signs are a good start but they are just a start. Just like the young adult issue on the member side, the young professional issue on the employee side is an incredibly important topic that needs to move from talk to action. What are we doing to inspire young folks and make other young professionals clamor to be part of the credit union movement?
The Next Top Credit Union Exec contest searches for emerging leaders from within the credit union industry. Credit union employees 35 and under (or those new to the financial services industry) apply by creating a 60-second video about themselves and a project they are working on, a project they are planning, or an idea they have for their credit union. All videos will be on display at www.NextTopCreditUnionExec.com.
“Young & Free has found a recipe for success in searching for young credit union members, and we are excited to use the same format to seek out creative and smart young professionals from within the credit union industry,” said Dale Schumacher, chairman, CUES’ board of directors and president/CEO, Tampa Bay Federal Credit Union, Tampa, Fla.
Interested participants can apply by June 1, 2010, at www.NextTopCreditUnionExec.com. Applicants will be organized according to six geographical regions. The industry and online public will vote for their favorite applicant in each region from June 4–14, 2010. The applicant in each region who receives the most votes will become a Regional Finalist for the Next Top Credit Union Exec and will receive a reward package valued at $5,000.
The six Regional Finalists will present on the progress of their project, program or idea, at CUES’ CEO/Executive Team Network in Dallas, November 7–10, 2010. The finalist who scores the highest via a combination of a judging panel, audience and online votes will receive the title Next Top Credit Union Exec and an educational package valued at $20,000.
“We can’t wait to watch how this unfolds. There are so many talented young professionals within our industry, and our hope is that we reveal the breadth of our emerging leaders through this contest,” added Schumacher. ”Plus, we feel the prize package is one that can take our young professionals to the next level of leadership within their organizations.”
This program has been lots of fun to work on and we are really looking forward to seeing how it plays out. I'm sure you know someone at your credit union who would make an excellent candidate!
September is 30 things I would implement or consider implementing at my credit union if I was a credit union leader.
Thing 4: strengthen the board of directors
Here's what I would do to reinvigorate the democratic process at my fictitious credit union:
- Institute maximum term lengths. In most countries, a leader can only serve for maximum of eight years. Go beyond that and the idea well runs dry. I believe the same goes for credit unions. It's may be noble to serve for 30 or 40 years, but unless your directors are bringing new and insightful ideas to the table decade after decade, it likely isn't serving your credit union's best interest to have life-long board terms. I was a volunteer with my local chamber of commerce for six years. I started as a director, was elected to the executive, served as president for two years, was the past president for one and then they booted me to the street. And it was time!
- Require broad age representation. Only 6% of credit union board members are younger than 40! In my fictitious credit union, the board would be made up of members in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s. The credit union rules would stipulate the number of seats in each decade! There should be more than grey hair at the table. Nothing against grey hair—in fact, my mom has a lovely head of it. And she's smarter than me in many ways, but at the ripe old age of 40, I think I know a thing or two that she and her fellow Boomers might have missed. It is no coincidence that the median age of a credit union member is 10 years older than the median age of the population—simply look at the demographics of the board to see the correlation. Check out Filene's MAP to Success project for ideas on how to get younger people involved.
- Pay the directors. It is common in Canada to pay the credit union's board of directors whereas in the US, board members are unpaid volunteers. At my ficticious credit union, the board members will be paid. To thrive over the next 100 years, credit unions need to reinvent themselves. To do this, credit unions will need to attract board members with a high level of varied expertise. Not only will modest compensation attract board members from all age groups, it will also hold all board members accountable to bring value and dedicate the time to properly steer the ship. Ginny Brady, a board member and blogger from New York's UFirst Credit Union examined this topic in detail on the CUES Skybox.
- Use social media to elect the board and to connect the board to the members. Vancity produced podcasts for all of its board nominees. United Communities created YouTube videos to introduce members to board nominees. Fantastic ideas. I would go a step further and broadcast the annual general meeting live online with Ustream. I'd also set up a Get Satisfaction forum to solicit ideas and feedback from the membership throughout the year. And, I would follow in the foot steps of Ginny and launch a blog for the board and require all members of the board to contribute.
I warned you that some of my 30 things might be controversial!