Musings from the CU Suite

May 22, 2012

Just Who Is To Blame?; Save, Save, Save!

Written by Anthony Demangone

I should stop watching television.

Not long ago, I sat on the sofa, long after a much-smarter man would have gone to bed.  Scanning the channels to check on my Nationals, I saw that commercial.

"My credit card debt was out of control!" cried out one young woman.  She was soon followed by a spokesperson who promised that his clients often see 90% of their credit card debt wiped clean! 


People talk about credit card debt as if it is an independent, self-sustaining, money-eating monster - in no way tied to their personal spending.  It always makes me shake my head.

But then I caught myself doing the same thing.

As I spoke with someone at a conference, I noted how NAFCU struggled historically to manage costs on a particular project. "We've always struggled with expenses on that one." 

The gentlemen seated next to me smiled.  And said this..."It isn't that complicated.  Just spend less. You don't struggle with expenses.  You struggle with controls.  Or saying no. Or with becoming efficient. Or making tough choices."

He was right.

How often do we talk about our company's problems as if we are powerless to solve them?  

Our meetings are terrible.  Employee morale is awful.  Emails are killing us!  

We have control over all these things, to a degree. We can improve meetings.  We can find out why employees are bummed out, and try to turn things around.  We can look for ways to improve communication.  

Everything is fixable.  Few fixes, though, are easy.

So this week, think about this: What are the big problems at your credit union? What's your battle plan to make things better?


A month or so ago, I asked everyone for some cost-savings ideas.   Here are some more responses from readers...

  • VP and department heads coordinated trips to distant branches, instead of 3 VP making 3 separate trips we would have one trip with all of them together.

  • We had a contract with Enterprise for discount car rental.  When a trip was necessary we would calculate which was cheaper, paying mileage or renting a car.

  • watch out for auto-pilot or evergreen contracts! When you do your annual vendor review renewal terms should be reviewed to make sure you don’t renew the buggy whip contract for 5 more years.

  • Annually review all products and services and though it is painful, end the ones that only a few members are using, especially if that is all they are using.

  • Monitor dormant accounts, they cost you money and your software vendor loves them.  Put in a quarterly fee, if a member complains gladly refund the fee and educate them on how great your services are and turn them into an active member.  If no response, fee account to zero (depending on your state laws), close the account and stop paying your processor for nothing.