Why do we love credit unions?
1. Credit unions have members.
While every organization has customers, internally and externally, credit unions serve members in the cooperative model. As explained by the National Credit Union Foundation, “Credit unions are democratic organizations owned and controlled by their members. Each member gets one vote, no matter their financial status, to help make the organization’s policies and decisions.” Love it.
2. Credit unions grow communities.
Many credit unions came into being to serve the needs of a specific group of people who weren’t getting the support they needed from other institutions. As a first-year teacher, I joined the credit union in our district at least partly because they offered a program to help balance a 10-month salary in a 12-month year (smart!). There are credit unions founded to support employees in a single workplace, those who live or work in a specific town or region, members of certain professions, and more. These credit unions can serve their members well because they have a strong understanding of their needs.
3. Credit unions prioritize financial well-being.
Because they are driven by the needs of a community, credit unions make financial well-being for all a top priority. In some cases, this might seem counterintuitive, as institutions can charge higher rates to penalize “bad behavior”, leading to more profitable outcomes for the institution. However, if you saw a member of your family making a bad decision that would ultimately hurt them in the long run, wouldn’t you want to help educate them about their options? If you’re truly committed to your community, you owe it to them to offer the best possible advice and information. After all, “good behavior” can be profitable, too!
4. Credit unions inspire life-long member loyalty.
This golden-rule-style commitment to the needs of members earns trust and loyalty, not just from a single member but often from their entire families. Credit unions welcome this growth (of course!) and many have charters that enable relatives of the “qualifying” member to join, too. Word-of-mouth referrals are the most powerful kind of marketing, but they must be earned. When a parent introduces their child to a trusted financial advisor, that referral carries a lot of weight.
5. Credit union employees inspire relationships.
It’s perhaps unsurprising that an industry that is driven by a focus on the actual humans being served also attracts genuine humans. As in many cases, people will refer friends and family members based on their relationships and experiences with one or more specific employees. Rather than “You should work with Goldilocks Credit Union!” the referral is more likely to be “I’ve been working with Carol for years and she’s great!” These are the relationships that power outstanding NPS, brand ambassadors, and continued growth.
6. Credit union employees fuel a mission-driven movement.
It’s rare to find credit union employees who view their work as just a job. Instead, many are attracted to the mission, with its core focus on improving the lives of community members. Many are service-oriented community builders, who find fulfillment in helping neighbors strengthen their financial health. Many are flag-waving card-carrying members of a powerful movement, enthusiastic and dedicated — far from “corporate” “industry” categorization. Just ask a credit union professional why they do the work they do, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear the passion for yourself.
7. Credit unions listen to and learn from those they serve.
The importance of listening to your stakeholders cannot be overstated. How can you be of service to someone if you don’t understand their goals? Of course, this goes for members, employees, and the broader community, too. While “stakeholders” is a less pleasant word than “community”, it’s helpful in translating the issue: Everyone has a stake in the success of the credit union, and if the credit union doesn’t take their priorities seriously, they’ll pull up stakes and head elsewhere.
8. Credit unions collaborate to improve experiences for all.
Beyond listening to their own members, employees, and communities, credit unions are amazing at collaborating with each other. The principle of “Cooperation Among Cooperatives” is alive and well, and we see this over and over again in our conversations with credit union partners, at credit union events, and across the credit union landscape. Whether it’s prioritizing employee experience through enhanced training and development practices, exploring new tools and solutions to improve member experience, credit unions are in it to win it — together.
9. Credit unions celebrate what matters.
Finally (at least for the top 9!), we love how the credit union community celebrates! Whether it’s an engaging give-back service project, an award for innovative approaches or life-time commitment, or just a big ol’ party, members of the credit union movement like to move it move it. 😉
But wait, there’s more!
Maybe it’s a bit strange to have a “top 9” list in a “top 10” world, but there you have it! To top it off, though, the most important reason someone loves their credit union may be unusual or even unique. Maybe it’s an employee who found an unexpected home in the credit union community in their first job — and never left. Maybe it’s a member who needed help when facing a stressful life situation and was able to get the financial and emotional support they needed to make it through. In a movement built on cooperative principles and designed to serve the wide-ranging needs and priorities of its diverse communities, we know this list could go on and on!
What’s your #10? Drop us a note — and be sure to let your credit union community know how and why you’re celebrating!
Credit union folks: If you’re ready to partner with an organization that gets it, learn more about how Sogolytics supports credit unions!