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Observations on credit union trends.

The re-branding (let’s change our name and logo) trend

Somewhere along the way a speaker or consultant or, dare I say, and ad agency posing as both, convinced credit unions that their biggest obstacle to growth was their legacy. It’s too specific. People will still think that they have to be a Portland Teacher (for example) to join. Even though the evidence to the contrary was staring at them on their balance sheet.

And so the name changes began.

Altana, Aventa, Aspire….

Community, Community Driven, Champion Community….

Encompass, Encore, Extra….

Meridian, Meritrust, Milestone….

Wildfire, Red Canoe and wait for it…….Salal.

Here’s an interesting list if you want to read more.

This trend thankfully has slowed down. But only to be replaced by: Merger Mania!

Now I get that in this historic bottoming out of our economy mergers would increase. But if you are paying attention, there are many mergers in the works that don’t HAVE to happen.

Here’s my theory. When a trend begins, panic ensues. Those that are not considering changing their name or merging begin to think that maybe they should. After all – everyone else is doing it. We must be doing something wrong. We should change our name. Maybe they know something we don’t know. Let’s merge. That must be the right decision.

Before you know it, bad economy, poor heathcare, gulf oil spill, tornadoes, hurricanes, increased pat downs, cats and dogs living in sin.

(insert needle across the record album noise here)

(Now insert birds chirping and a harp playing softly)

What if we decided to take a deep breath. Assess our situation thoroughly. Focus on what we do well. What we’re known for. Can we sustain ourselves with a simpler model? Get back to basics?

Our members need us now more than ever. We have 100 years of history that has proven we can make money in a devastating economy.

Remember, we not only survived the Great Depression we thrived. The years following that historic event resulted in a credit union boom.

If you don’t have to merge – don’t. It’s a bloody distraction.

Oh, and “economies of scale” is math. It’s not a strategy.

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November 2010