Momentum is picking up around the idea of being more aggressive in developing an ownership community as a key credit union strategy and tactic. The more CU professionals see that it takes active owners (pioneers) to start and sustain credit unions, and passive owners (the indifferent) to end them, the more they are seeing active owners as the heroes in their credit union’s story. Add to that the growth of data and demographic tactics in CUs and who knows… maybe categorizing and cultivating members who think and act like owners might even be a long-term trend in CU operations going forward.
Only fly in the ointment? It takes work, and as we know in credit union land these days very few people trust the tact that work and sustained efforts are worth it without a clear ROI. It’s an accounting thing, or maybe an underwriting thing, but it just seems like credit unions want the black and white ledger calculation telling them it’s ok to expend the effort or risk their members’ money on such things.
And here is where it all falls apart. We will spend all kinds of “at-risk member’s money” to attract a potential consumer to our products. We love the high of a purchase, or a “yes” to our service and revenue generating products. We love the black and white accounting of something offered, something taken; there is a buzz in the value exchange. Consumers’ money, attention, affirmation, etc. for our corporate offerings. So why don’t we have something to sell consumers to be owners? Something that gave us all a buzz – something that said the consumer gets it! So we would get it.
We need to craft a different future, even if it is only for the credit union professional’s benefit. Members understand that ownership generally comes with a “transaction”, but the $5 par deposit as an ownership transaction just is not cutting it anymore. It’s forgotten as soon as it’s done; just the cost of opening an account. What then? How do we make ownership real in the minds of members, and beyond a simple one-time exchange? Stock?
Either way, an active ownership community within our overall member community is an asset! That asset has been undermanaged for years if not decades as credit unions have fought to develop their consumer communities. It may take a revolution related to data analytics to shine a light on the demographic and the value of these members, but as more and more CUs face moments when only an “owner” can make the difference, I hope it is not too late to do the work to turn the tide for many of the credit unions who are learning the difference between agents, consumers, and owners! Tell me why I’m wrong!