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Matt Davis, the Credit Union Warrior asked 11 people that he trusts to “tag” a speaker. Someone that is not a part of the usual speaker circuit. These speakers were asked to spake for love – aka as travel expenses. The exotic location? Fishers, Indiana.

No golf.

No spa.

No fancy resort.

125 people showed up this morning to FORUM Credit Union to hear 11 amazing speakers. No board members, a few CEOs but mostly middle management. Many are here on their own dime. There’s free wifi in this state of the art meeting space. We have a Twitter hashtag #cuwcs. There’s going to be a rockband contest tonight. Many are blogging and rumor has it CU Times is providing a video stream.

Our opening speaker just opened up with one slide that simply says “SEX”

This is going to be a weird day – stay tuned.

10:05am (Eastern)

Robbie Wright just finished up. Kicked it off with some pretty in-your-face opinions which got the audience riled up. In a good way.

Now Ondine Irving is telling her amazing story. About how Twitter connected her with Suze Orman and Oprah. Guess what? Twitter.

11:18am (Eastern)

Joe Staples, Interactive Intelligence is on stage showing us amazingly scary statistics on social media. Twitter is the new way to communicate according to the stats – and the brilliance? Brevity. 140 characters. Get to the damn point.

1:08pm (Eastern)

Rebecca Corliss, HubSpot just showed a video of her singing Alanis Morrisette’s angry ballad You Oughta Know but the target of the angst was not the trashy boyfriend whore – it was traditional marketers!

2:21pm (Eastern)

Two words. Ed. Brett. No slides. No fear. Challenged the crap out of us. Service, not really important – if you’re not good at banking, service doesn’t matter. Your members only need you when they need you. They don’t want you. Especially don’t want you on Facebook.

The mood in the room is shifting from conference to “Come to Jesus.” Can I get an Amen?

 

DAY TWO:

8:54am (Eastern)

Tim McAlpine kicked off day two with an acknowledgement of Matt Davis’, (The Credit Union Warrior) commitment to this conference and to the movement. I have felt for some time that the Warrior is Edward Filene reincarnated (minus the wealthy Boston merchant detail). One of the reasons Mr. Filene was so successful so quickly with the concept of a financial cooperative – he funded the efforts himself. Because he was not beholden to dues or an employer, he was free to say what needed to be said. People no doubt criticized him, but he did not care. His passion overrode his ego.

Matt currently works for the Filene Research Institute. Only seems fitting. And to their credit and in the spirit of our founder, they have given him the freedom to do and say what needs to be said and done.

This conference is just the beginning. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It’s challenging the status quo, and not by an angry mob (like I’ve seen recently in response to the corporate recapitalization) but by people who truly believe in our business model and see it losing ground.

If we do not youth-a-nize American credit unions we will literally die of old age. I’m one of the oldest people at this conference. Ironically I am exactly the average age of American credit unions members: 48.

Yesterday we were challenged by many speakers outside of our industry. And last night we spoke of such taboo topics as:

Why don’t we have term limits for boards?

Taxation. Some believe credit unions should be taxed.

The failed attempts at a national brand campaign. The consensus was this is a waste of money and time.

I’m looking forward to today – stay tuned…..

Gawd – it’s three weeks until the elections and I personally cannot WAIT for these political ads to stop. It’s a bizarre piece of marketing when you think about it. Because political marketing is never FOR their politician, it’s always AGAINST the competition. If a credit union were to take this tactic (and they never would) the ads would go a little somethin’ like this:

Opening scene: (black background, sinister piano riff, akin to the Exorcist) A picture of the main branch of Anywhere CU appears….

Voiceover: Anywhere CU hates children. In fact, the average age of this financial co-op is 52.

(Montage of pics of old members begin to wipe in and out of view)

Voiceover: Their membership continues to vote for board members that have served for over 25 years – ensuring that Gen Y will never be represented.

In very small print at the bottom of the screen a disclaimer: SOURCE: Annual Meeting Minutes of Anywhere CU 2010.

Voiceover: Anywhere CU has a 28% approval ratio for consumer loans and their loan-to-share ratio is 52% and declining. They approved a policy that requires A+ credit and 10 years on the job securing a loan portfolio aimed at Boomers.

Anywhere CU hates youth.

(Very fast talker ends commercial) The views expressed in this ad are not approved by the NCUA or CUNA which is a crazy ass anagram when you think about it.

Fade to black.

 

Last week The Gap revealed their new logo.

More than 1,000 “friends” left disparaging remarks on their Facebook page.

Today Gap announced, the old logo would return. They took a page from the new Coke old Coke playbook. Oops. They didn’t know you loved their old brand so much.

Lessons we can learn from Gap:

1. If you change your name/logo and there’s no outcry from your members, you’re in trouble.

2. The logo is not your brand – but it is the symbol of recognition of your reputation. Gap had 20 years of solid reputation and a very basic logo. Why mess with that?

3. Be careful what you wish for – when you beg for friends on Facebook, you better listen to them.

There’s nothing like a good ol’ recession to make us question everything. It’s been said that people work together best, when there’s a crisis. That’s when we really pull together as a team.

Well, we’re in a crisis. So forgive me if I’m blunt, but these times give me no choice.

Here are the brutal facts:

  • Credit unions are literally dying of old age. I met a CU professional yesterday who told me the average age of their membership was 71. I replied “Are you sure that’s not the average age of your board?” Nope. The members. Then I asked the obvious, “What’s your loan-to-share ratio?” He just chuckled.
  • This year Generation Y will outnumber the Baby Boomers (the largest generation in US history). Boomers are beginning to die. The youngest Gen Yer is getting their driver’s license next year. The oldest will turn 36. There are 70 million of them. In two years they will all be old enough to enter into a legal contract (get a loan on their own).
  • Mathematically speaking credit unions did not need Generation X (the smallest generation in US history). Therefore we didn’t bother to market to them, or figure them out, or listen to them or even begin to understand what the next generation will demand. This is largely the cause of the 48 year old member age average, and why it still climbs.
  • Credit union members aged 25 to 42 have dropped by 17% in the past two decades. These are our prime borrowers.
  • The proliferation of community chartered credit unions (post HR 1151) did not result in increased market share for the industry. Rather, membership flatlined for the first time in history.
  • The majority of the sitting credit union CEOs are within 5 years of retirement. They can see the finish line. Consequently, many of them will put blinders on to avoid distraction. They are entering the lame duck phase, and are not likely to make any big changes.
  • Mergers will be used as big fat band-aids. But the wound will not heal. It will begin to fester.
  • Social media is not a fad. It’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate. If you don’t get it, embrace it, and practice it – you’re toast.
  • The recession and NCUA assessments sanction inaction.
  • Shiny happy stock art people used in marketing will kill us. Cut it out!
  • You cannot calculate an ROI for every damn thing. It’s an excuse we hide behind so we don’t have to take a risk.
  • Brittany S. Pearce is a better performer than Britney Spears. (I’m a Gleek)

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