Reflect and Be Recognized — MCUL & MCUF Awards are Open
During last week’s Thanksgiving, I had a chance to spend some time with family and friends. As can naturally happen during end-of-year traditions like this, you end up thinking about how the year has gone — taking stock of favorite moments, what I achieved, what I want to achieve next year, etc. It always centers me, allows me to appreciate my hard work while also thinking about where I want to focus my attention in the coming year.
In an operational sense, I know credit unions are doing the same thing during this Thanksgiving-to-Christmas stretch — assessing what’s working, discussing what areas need more attention and targeting new goals for the future.
Trust me, I know it’s a lot more difficult than I made it sound … but I do want to challenge credit union leaders to really focus, in the midst of all this strategic planning, on your successes in 2023.
Whether it was an innovative lending program, a financial education initiative, community-based grants or any number of other ways that I personally witnessed Michigan credit unions finding ways to serve our state, you deserve to be recognized.
The 2024 MCUL & MCUF Awards nominations are open right now, and it’s a great time to put those reflections into words so we can recognize you and your credit union at next year’s award ceremony. For those of you who have attended the ceremony in the past — or if you have been a recipient of an award — you know how special the event is and the feeling of appreciation for being recognized. Why not share the event and nominate someone with the chance to give them time on the stage and be recognized for their efforts?
And while these awards are designed to reward Michigan credit unions, chapters and professionals who are improving our state through innovation and dedication, your projects also inspire other credit union leaders to reach new heights.
The nominations are open through Jan. 8. You can find awards nominations and individual award information here.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner — a time when families come together and pause from the routine of worklife for a few days in order to celebrate each other’s company and appreciate the life around them. In other words, it’s a way to not take what we have for granted.
One thing that I never take for granted is that working in the credit union movement means much of my worklife is already organized around giving. Sometimes, that means hiking to DC to advocate for legislation that makes it easier for credit unions to serve members. Other times, it simply means seeing, on a daily basis, how much credit unions give back to your communities for the simple fact that you care.
Later this month, I have the honor of taking part in this first-hand as we give a check to the Children’s Miracle Network (CMN) Hospitals for our 2023 donation totals. This year, through MCUL’s silent and live auctions, fun run, golf outing and matching donations, we raised a total of $102,176 for CMN!
While MCUL is giving out the check, we know this is a testament to how well Michigan credit unions understand the importance of these funds, which are going toward medical equipment and care that will make life easier for CMN patients.
In addition to working with our credit unions, I recently had the honor of being named to the Lighthouse of Michigan Board of Directors. The mission of Lighthouse is to build equitable communities that alleviate poverty. This past weekend, myself and the other members, assembled Thanksgiving food boxes for families that may not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner. While joining another board gave me pause simply due to my other time commitments, I am so glad that I said yes. I needed to round out my board work to include this kind of work. The kind of work that while you are doing it, you are reminded how fortunate you are. As we know, especially in these times, sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal is an absolute privilege that far too many people will not have this year.
It’s humbling to see how organizations across the state, including our movement, have made giving a part of the everyday mission. For credit unions, giving isn’t a reaction, it’s an inherent part of what we do. And I’m thankful that I get to be a part of it.
Back to Our Cooperative Roots
You may have seen on social media that I was privileged to attend the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF)’s Credit Union Development Education course in Madison last week. I am officially a DE!
About a year ago, I had no idea what a “DE” was. I would see “CUDE” by some credit union people’s names in a signature block or on LinkedIn but I just wrote it off as a certification of sorts. Then, last year, I was listening to NCUF’s Gigi Hyland present, and she asked how many “DE”s were in the room. A smattering of people around the room proudly stood, claiming to have been in “the best class ever!” Some were new faces but a lot of them I have long admired for all their years in this awesome industry. I was intrigued. Not wanting to be left out of this prestigious group, after hearing Gigi explain the program, I told her that I was all in.
At first, I thought that spending time with the credit union cooperative principles was something just for new people to our industry. I quickly learned that this was not the case. Longtime credit union folks attend this week-long “course” alongside newbies to either learn for the first time or get re-inspired with our cooperative roots and all the current development issues that remain and need our desperate attention – development issues like hunger, savings, health, housing, diversity and equity, just to name a few.
So last week, I rolled up my sleeves along with over 50 others from around the country to talk about “the onion” and where leagues and credit unions fit in to the system along with our cooperative principles: voluntary and open membership; democratic member control; member economic participation; autonomy and independence; education, training and information; cooperation among cooperatives; concern for community and, in the U.S. we have added: diversity, equity and inclusion.
On day one of training, we were placed into a team of nine and worked the entire week with this new “family” of credit union people. Good people. Fun people. Smart people who were new or old in our industry and all wanted the same thing out of the week as me – to learn, open my mind and learn how I can make an impact. Mission accomplished!
We laughed, a lot. We visited a food pantry outside of Madison and felt, a lot. We worked on a project with our hypothetical credit union on how to tackle some of our country’s biggest development problems, like hunger and education. We then present our solution to the entire conference. We had late nights and early mornings. Did I mention we had fun?! We did.
What I really loved about the week was that you leave your titles at the door. No one knows what your job is and it’s a level playing field for everyone. It’s not until the afternoon of the final day – at graduation – where you share your title. It was fun to leave my CEO title off to the side and listen and learn from my group, our presenters and amazing mentors.
We ended the week with a challenge: to take back to your credit union or league what you learn and work on a project. My first step is to shine light on this program and encourage you all to consider going or sending someone from your team if you haven’t already. Meanwhile, if you are a Michigan DE, send me a note and let’s connect our DE possie! Check out: https://www.ncuf.coop/development-education/program/ for some more information. I am also happy to meet up and talk more.
In closing, you will see CUDE by my title now and I am thrilled to tell you that the October 2023 class was the best class ever. Become a DE and this will make sense!
This past week has been tough in the news. First, we’re hearing daily of the suffering of people in the Middle East with the war happening in Israel and Gaza. Horrific what happened last weekend and the suffering that continues to inflict both the Israeli and Palestinian people. I am sure you join me in the sadness that I feel for the people suffering at the hands of terroristic acts that result in death, torture, medical emergencies and hunger. I pray for the safe return of American hostages and that a solution can be found for the complicated issues that have existed in that region for my entire life.
In industry news, hits keep coming from commentary and opinions on credit union overdraft practices. I’m sure you all saw the news out of California with the reporting of overdraft revenue at some large credit unions, as well as the commentary that credit unions are “hurting” their members and communities over the last week. Coupled with the White House and CFPB rhetoric on “junk fees,” the uniformed commentary on our industry hits hard.
In response to the junk fee rhetoric and income earned on overdraft programs, our collective advocacy needs to shine through. Of course, we know that the article fails to point out all the fee income that was returned to members when they disputed the fee and perhaps did not intend to be included in the overdraft program. The articles fail to discuss all the financial education that credit unions do with members that may be routine users of overdraft in an effort to curb the occurrence of fees. The attackers of our industry also are most likely ignorant to the fact that members routinely express frustration when they are contacted about ways to ease the occurrence of overdraft. Finally, the articles try and make credit unions look like fee hungry institutions when what is actually happening is a member opting in to a product (courtesy pay) and agreeing to pay a fee for using the program when they otherwise would have had the transaction denied.
CUNA and NAFCU are responding to these uniformed articles that are attacking our industry, but we can do more here in Michigan. I would love to share the other side of courtesy pay with data from you. Please reach out if you have some member stories of usage of your program as well as data on how much you have returned to members in fees.
WE know how much you do for your members and communities, and we need to make sure we are shining a brighter light on that so that others know as well.
Last week, I had the pleasure of joining several of my Michigan credit union colleagues in Washington, D.C. as we embarked on our annual Hike the Hill trip. All told, there were more than 50 of us from Michigan together to discuss agenda items with our national leaders. As you know, this is a critical time with some big issues on our list — including protecting interchange and overdraft protection programs.
Before I get to some of the details of our meetings, I just want to say how happy I was to see not only a large turnout from Michigan, but that approximately half of our group were first-time attendees! Through our scholarship program, MCUL was able to give Hilke the Hill scholarships to 22 professionals, 15 of whom were young professionals.
I talked to several of the new hikers at our reception and it was fun to learn that, for some, it was their first trip to DC. What a great opportunity for them to not only learn about how advocacy works in our movement but to also get a fresh perspective on how important it is that much of the work we do, we do together, with one voice. That “cooperation among cooperatives” in our principles was shining brightly last week. Kudos to those managers and leaders reading this that paved the way for these young professionals to join us.
As far as what we actually talked about in our meetings, the Credit Card Competition Act (CCCA) took up the bulk of our time with lawmakers. While U.S. Sen. Gary Peters has been a staunch supporter of our position on interchange for years, it was great to hear others in our delegation indicate they are opposed to the CCCA, including U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow and Reps. Huizenga (R-4), Moolenaar (R-2), Kildee (D-8), McClain (R-9) and Stevens (D-11). Others in the delegation stopped short of stating opposition to the bill but did understand why the bill is extremely flawed and why interchange needs to be left alone.
Outside of CCCA, we were able to touch on a few other issues, including modernizing the Federal Credit Union Act, rhetoric around “junk fees,” CDFI funding and more. Look for more detail on these issues in this week’s Advocacy Roundup.
We were also happy that one of our visits took place at the Credit Union House. Our home away from home in DC. Thanks to all of you who support the CU House and please consider a contribution for 2024 when you affiliate with MCUL in the coming months.
Thanks for reading!
Happy Fall, y'all! September has been pretty busy for us at MCUL. As I just returned from our Fall Leadership Development Conference, I think I can officially say it’s fall!
I had a great time connecting with our Michigan credit union board members who make up the majority of the attendees at the leadership conference. My opening remarks to the group were focused on advocacy, emphasizing with our board members how critical advocacy is in our movement. I reminded them that it is a bipartisan effort and that we need each credit union to buy in to support us at the state and federal level. I know that boards have a lot on their plate as institutions get bigger and more sophisticated and that our CEOs may not always have the time to focus on advocacy at the meetings. I hope I helped garner support from boards that may not have understood the focus needed on advocacy. For the most part, I am sure I was preaching to the choir as we had a room full of engaged leaders!
One thing that ticked me off last week was the Wall Street Journal opinion piece about credit unions having lost their focus and are straying away from their mission when they expand their charter and “buy banks.” I am not going to link it here as I do not want to shine any more light on it. But, one thing I know, apart from the misleading and inaccurate statements in the piece, our lawmakers will be reading it. This gives us the continued motivation to double down on our efforts to remind our delegation in Michigan and DC just who we are and how we continue to live our mission, every day.
Okay. Enough on that…
Right before Fall Leadership in Traverse City was the 2023 Executive Summit in Mackinac Island. I’m so glad we had such beautiful weather for both events.
Even better than the weather was the attendance! On Mackinac Island, we had 246 attendees, and in Traverse City, we had 440 attendees on site. Both events saw an uptick in attendance from 2022. As I mentioned in last issue’s blog, these events are cornerstones of our planning process, and I want to thank everyone who made both of these events successful.
Prior to the education events in Northern Michigan, MCUL and MCULSC boards met for strategic planning. I am so thankful for our boards and the excitement they brought to planning. We are rolling up our sleeves, ready to take on our 2024 plans. I can say this — good things to come!!! Have a great week and enjoy some yummy cider and donuts this season!
I hope everyone enjoyed the long Labor Day weekend and had a chance to relax and visit with friends or family. It’s always one of my favorite weekends of the year — a moment to soak up the last weekend before fall while also reminiscing over everything I did this summer.
Like most of you, it has been a busy summer. I know the rate environment has created a pinch on lending and some of you are still having some challenges hiring. For us at MCUL, we are focused on attacks on interchange and how we can align with our delegation and CUNA to prevent harmful legislation from getting much traction.
As we turn to September, ever since starting as CEO of MCUL, I have enjoyed early September as a time to look towards our planning and where to focus for the next year. Like most of you, our planning time starts now as well as prepping our budgets. Our leadership heads to planning next week and we are excited to engage with our board and share our thoughts on 2024 and hear from them about how we can better support our credit unions.
By my next blog post, we will have just wrapped our annual back-to-back planning events up north, Executive Summit on Mackinac Island and Fall Leadership Development Conference in Traverse City. This is when the reflection really stops and, instead, we start to really focus on the future — not only how board members and leaders can grow and be better stewards, but also how we as an industry can better adjust to the world around us.
As for me, I enjoy this time. I love wiping the board clean and starting from scratch. And what’s better as a league leader than getting to hear from our board and getting inspired from so many of the great leaders we have right here in our Michigan movement??
Anyway, I can’t wait to see a handful of my colleagues face-to-face this month as we dig into the year we have ahead. I know I will get to see several of our leaders as there has been much excitement about heading to the Grand Hotel on the island this month! I hope all of your planning sessions go well, and I look forward to growing with you all.
P.S. I am ready for sweater weather! How about you?! :)
As you know, Maui, Hawaii, has faced heartbreaking tragedy as wildfires swept through the area, claiming the lives of over 114 individuals and leaving many others without a place to live or work. I have talked to a lot of you that have been to Lahaina and seeing the videos and pictures of the devastation and loss there has been even more hard to witness. Our own Todd Jorns has a niece that was in the area and barely escaped the fires and lost her home.
In response to this devastating event, the Michigan Credit Union Foundation, with the support of our Michigan credit unions, contributed $1,000 towards relief efforts to support those affected by the wildfires. While this is a small contribution in light of the devastation in the area, we were told it provided 300 meals to those that have been displaced. During these difficult times, we're reminded of the powerful spirit of 'People Helping People' that defines our industry. Through this donation, we’re hoping to provide some measure of relief to credit unions, their staff, and their members grappling with the aftermath of this tragedy. Thank you for your support of our foundation.
For those wishing to extend their assistance, the Hawaii Credit Union League (HCUL) has shared the following message for those looking to support the victims:
To help those impacted by the fires, monetary donations can be made to “Valley Isle Chapter – HCUL” and sent to:
- Valley Isle Chapter
C/O Valley Isle Community Federal Credit Union
160 Paahana Street
Kahului, HI 96732
If you’re looking for more information or wish to connect with HCUL, Carol Marx, President/CEO, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 808-282-6658.
Additionally, CUAid is open and accepting donations. The National Credit Union Foundation is working closely with HCUL to get disaster relief funds flowing to Maui credit unions. You can donate here.
As we continue to stand by those affected by the Maui fires, MCUF is also here to assist your credit union and credit union chapter with projects or ideas to help improve our communities here in Michigan. Community enrichment grants are still available and are here to help your ideas to make a real impact. For more information on how to apply, contact MCUF Executive DIrector, Beth Troost, or Foundation and Events Specialist, Andrea Tucker.
Thank you again for supporting the Michigan Credit Union Foundation. Your support enables us to stand by our friends and colleagues, both nationally and right here in Michigan, when they need it most.
In July 2021, I started the podcast Credit Unions, Coffee and Conversation as a way to better get to know my colleagues and the credit union industry around me. Through two years and 45 episodes, I’ve loved hearing personal and professional journeys from so many of you, as well as getting to discuss what’s happening at various Michigan credit unions and how you’re navigating top-of-mind issues.
It’s also been great amplifying the voices of emerging leaders in our industry, recognizing that the insights and perspectives of young professionals are integral to shaping the credit union movement.
In an episode from the first season, I had an engaging conversation with Kyle Gurzynski, then the Executive Vice President of Safe Harbor Credit Union and now the CEO of Filer Credit Union. We spoke about the unique dynamics of small-asset credit unions, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities they face. We also touched on Kyle's passion for fostering young professional development, underlining the importance of mentorship and education.
In a more recent episode, I had the privilege of speaking with two influential leaders who are shaping the banking landscape, Jennifer Watson, CEO of Limestone Federal Credit Union, and COO Alyssa Swanson. With these two, I was able to dig into their credit union's approach to micro-branches, focus on efficiency and customer convenience and how they’re working with students to build a better community.
In the last year, the podcast has branched out to credit union professionals from across the country. Guests from year two included NCUA Chairman Todd Harper, World Council of Credit Unions CEO Elissa McCarter LaBorde and Illinois Credit Union League CEO Tom Kane.
I was also happy to step out of the credit union C-suite a bit and welcome a handful of experts in auto lending, mortgage lending and talent development. I also got to speak with credit union board members who shared experiences from their volunteer role and how to get engaged at the board member level.
The second year gave us a chance to try out a few special episodes: the Young Professionals Roundtable, live from the MCUL Annual Convention & Exposition, and the Women’s History Month episode, which featured a handful of industry leaders speaking about the women who have made a difference in their life. I hope you enjoyed these as much as I did.
I’m excited to see where the podcast takes me in year three. Thank you to everyone who has given their time to share with me their stories and nuggets of wisdom. I truly have the best job in the world!
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the African-American Credit Union Coalition (AACUC)’s Annual Conference. It was the Coalition's 25th year of the conference, so it was a pretty big milestone. The conference is a five-day event held just outside Atlanta, Georgia.
Finally, I was in the minority at an event. Wait, before I get to that, let's cover some background. Over the last few years, like a lot of you, I have been trying to understand and educate myself on the Black experience in our country as well as in our credit union industry. This has included reading books, articles, listening to podcasts as well as participating in more diverse events and talking and learning from some amazing people. It has made me look at my LinkedIn connections to see if they were made up of diverse connections. It has made me look at our MCUL events and my network of friends. It has been a very intentional experience.
Going down this road, one that I admit wholeheartedly that I should have started on much earlier, has brought a lot of emotions to the surface. This exploration has also, I hope, made me a better leader, friend, mother and colleague. To be clear, I am still on this road. Probably not even halfway there. Not even sure what "there" is and most likely I will just be a traveler for the rest of my days. But, I can say with confidence, that I will be an intentional and educated traveler as I continue to widen my network of credit union friends and mentors.
This journey has made me recognize my privilege. It has helped me understand why female, non-white attendees at events do not always feel as confident as I do. It has made me understand "the nod" as Renee Sattiewhite talks about — the nod an African American gives to another African American at an event when there are few of color in attendance. The "I see you" nod. I get it now.
Believe me, I appreciate that attending my first AACUC conference this month does not make me an expert. But, as I sit at the airport in Atlanta on my way back to Detroit, after hanging with some amazing people, it does give me pause and I am in a place of contemplation.
I told Renee, the President/CEO of AACUC, that being at the event and being in a room where I was the minority, probably for the first time in my professional career, was, in the best word I can conjure, refreshing. It was refreshing to not feel troubled by the lack of diversity at an event. It was wonderful to see this amazing side of credit union leaders, team members and volunteers gather and feel included and in the majority. I actually loved it. And, I felt included because the attendees made me feel included. They smiled at me, they introduced themselves, they saw me.
Don't get me wrong, the ideal event has an equal mix of everyone represented. I am excited for that day. But, until then, the fact that AACUC continues to grow and thrive, shows me the power of the community and the passion for feeling included and seen. We have such a diverse and amazing family of credit union leaders and champions. The AACUC was born 25 years ago at the CUNA GAC by a small but mighty group that felt the need for something special. It was born and has continued to grow. After the murder of George Floyd, reach-outs and affiliation with AACUC grew exponentially. Out of tragedy came recognition in all of us that we needed to do more. We needed to understand and we needed to reach out. So many of our credit unions are doing amazing work in the DEI space and have been so intentional about their teams and communities. I have been in awe in what you have done and continue to do.
This road for all of us is long but I am excited to continue the travel as it brings me such joy and friendship in the people I am meeting and learning from. I encourage each of you to consider affiliation with AACUC and to send team members to their events. The vendor hall at their conference was sold out of our CUSO and credit union partners who are excited to be present and part of this community. This made me so happy.
During the event, Renee asked me to stand and be recognized for being there. I was only able to attend the first part of it but I am so glad I did. Renee told the group that I came all that way for one night just to show up. Showing up is important. But, Renee, it is me who should be thanking you. For all your work and your amazing team. I have never felt so appreciated or welcomed at an event. I am going to learn from you and make our events even better. Congratulations to AACUC on the 25-year anniversary. I hope it is okay with you that when I see someone who is in the minority at our event, I will also be doing the nod. Because I also see you and strive to be better.
To find out more about AACUC, check out their website.
Hi all! Hope you had an amazing 4th of July! It was great weather in Northern Michigan, where I celebrated. I hope you also had some great weather wherever you found yourself.
This past week had me taking a trip down memory lane, when I was a young lawyer. For the newest episode of the podcast, I interviewed Jeremy Engbrecht, the President of CRIF Select, which provides indirect lending support to credit unions. The podcasts are all about the guest, so I didn't share my history with indirect lending during the episode where Jeremy shares his thoughts on successful indirect programs and how to connect with new members. So, I thought I would share a bit of my connection to the topic here.
Back in 2003 and 2004, when I was considered a “baby lawyer” and litigator still learning the ropes, I started working with credit unions that were struggling with their indirect lending programs. For those of you who have been around for a beat, you know that indirect lending had a rocky start for some credit unions in Michigan and around the country.
Some had to learn the hard way that indirect programs need a lot of monitoring and staffing. Unfortunately, without a lot of experience in the early days, some credit unions did not monitor indirect separate from direct, which often meant they onboarded loans too quickly and without proper dealer management and staffing. They found themselves in a heap of trouble with large loan losses, heavy collections and charge-offs with the regulators breathing down their neck. Not fun, right?!
I also saw credit union clients run into problems when aggressive lending managers were letting the loans pour in even if they weren't always in compliance with policy. Some aggressive dealers were also not forthcoming in their information and credit details, which forced credit unions to begin to see large losses.
Regulators got involved and you saw things like the NCUA Examiner’s Guide add a section on indirect lending. After that, state examiners started to look at things differently and more closely. Credit unions needed to dust off their lending policies and procedures and add indirect sections, as well as educate their collection team on what to look for and how to work with the lending side of the aisle.
I spent a lot of time working with credit unions on their programs, policies and dealer management. I really enjoyed supporting credit unions this way and even had to file lawsuits against some dishonest dealerships. It was an interesting time!
I am glad to see how things have evolved and know that we have some great partners in this space that work with credit unions and help them successfully manage these programs. With credit unions leading the way in auto lending and often helping consumers that have been turned away by banks, it is important that we step up and find ways to support these consumers who would otherwise be charged extreme rates at other financial institutions.
I enjoyed the trip down indirect lending memory lane and hope you enjoy the episode! You can listen here: Credit Unions, Coffee & Conversation.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately around “Interchange,” or U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin’s Credit Card Competition Act. I want to take a moment with this blog post to give readers a bit of historical context about the bill and why MCUL and our partners at CUNA are strongly opposed to this recently introduced legislation.
The argument being made with the bill is that it’s necessary in order to create more competition into the credit card marketplace, which will drive down credit card interchange fees and result in savings being passed on to consumers.
If that line sounds familiar, it’s because in 2010, Durbin said something very similar when talking about his so-called “Durbin Amendment,” which was added into the Dodd-Frank Act at the last minute. That Amendment similarly targeted interchange fees to benefit large retailers who failed to pass on their savings to the consumer. Rather, they lined their own pockets with this new income.
Consumers weren’t the only ones that lost out on the deal — so did community financial institutions, since the Amendment resulted in the elimination of many low-cost banking services, free checking accounts and debit card reward programs. This meant our industry became more reliant on overdraft fees and minimum-balance requirements.
Now, fast-forward back to today and the Credit Card Competition Act. Because of what happened with the Durbin Amendment, we’re now able to recognize that the language Durbin is using in this new piece of legislation will have the same effect: a win for the big retailers while consumers and community financial organizations are left holding the bag.
It’s also worth noting that this legislation includes language that would have a substantial effect on credit card payment systems. And as we know all too well, changes to any part of the current card system would translate to increased costs for financial institutions.
The Michigan Credit Union League believes it is unfair and unreasonable for retailers to gain such benefit off the backs of consumers and community organizations. We need to continue to protect consumers and retailers while also recognizing that credit card issuers are not only protecting consumer data but also assuming all of the risk involved in a credit card transaction.
MCUL’s Advocacy Team is working hard to educate the Michigan congressional delegation on the Credit Card Competition Act and is asking members of the delegation to oppose the bill. But we need your help to make sure the legislation doesn’t gain momentum.
Please take a minute or two out of your day to review CUNA’s action alert on the issue — enter your name and address and submit the alert so Congress can hear directly from you on the issue. CUNA’s action alert can be found at: protectinterchange.com/take-action/.
According to CUNA, at the time of this blog, Michigan is leading the way in contacts into Congress opposing this legislation. So far, we've had more than 6,000 contacts. That's amazing! Let's keep this momentum up. Share this link with those in your networks and urge them to also complete and submit the action alert.
Thank you for your help on this issue.
What an amazing annual convention! Our Michigan credit union community gathered in Grand Rapids last week as we welcomed close to 1,300 total participants to the 2023 MCUL Annual Convention & Exposition! With our MCUL team, attendees and credit union partners, we were all guaranteed to have a good time.
The stat I love the most about this convention was that we welcomed 160 first-time attendees. This shows us that credit unions are encouraging their teams to attend and get to know this amazing Michigan community. This makes me happy! We were also excited to host the young professionals in our industry with their own day to learn and network during the FUELmi YP Conference.
Thanks to everyone’s generous spirit, between the Fun Run/Walk hosted by our Mid-Michigan Chapter, the golf outing and our live and silent auction, we raised close to $100,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Amazing! I was thrilled to have the winning bid on the artwork completed by Calvin, our Miracle Child. The picture will hang in our Lansing office along with our entire team and Calvin!
We also raised $36,000 for the Michigan Credit Union Foundation at the Corks for a Cause event. Thank you so much for your generosity.
Other highlights for me were talking on Center Stage! with NCUA Board Member Hon. Rodney Hood and facilitating a panel on credit unions purchasing bank assets and vacant branches. This was really great content on relevant topics for our attendees. It was also special to welcome some of our young professionals to the stage and talk to us about what makes them passionate about our industry and what is needed for them to stay with an employer.
Rounding out the event, we closed with the awards ceremony. How lucky was I to hand out awards to each of our deserving recipients – celebrating the best in the industry?! See the winners here. This was the first year we awarded our volunteers, recognizing two deserving board members. It was a great addition to our ceremony, acknowledging and thanking the winners for their amazing contributions.
The MCUL team did an awesome job with the event! I am already looking forward to Traverse City in 2024!
See You Next Week!
Hello, and welcome to the last Patty’s Desk before the 88th MCUL Annual Convention & Exposition!
This time next week, many of us will already be in Grand Rapids for the event, which marks our first time back in the city for AC&E in six years.
When we were last in Grand Rapids, in 2017, the city was ranked by various sources as the number one fastest growing big-city economy in the U.S. In the following years, it has continued, even through the pandemic, to grow its job and housing development enough to be called one of the nation’s most likely cities to thrive this decade.
Not only am I excited to get back to Grand Rapids, but I am excited to share it with the 1,200 people that I consider colleagues, partners and friends.
Yes, I am excited to share League updates with all of you, and I can’t wait to talk about trending industry topics and hear from some of the great speakers we have line up, but one of the things I most love about my position as League CEO is being able to see so much of our movement in one place, collaborating with one another. It brings me great joy to see the Michigan credit union movement grow deeper through these connections and conversations.
So many industries are designed around competition between organizations, but we understand that sharing our knowledge with each other not only makes each credit union stronger, but it makes all of us better financial partners for our members.
Our movement is truly one of a kind, and it’s a reason to celebrate.
See you next week!
Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about credit unions purchasing banks and closed bank branches for years. This type of growth has taken place not only in Michigan but around the country.
What does acquiring a bank do for a credit union? How do you even go about acquiring a bank? What are the regulatory requirements? Is it a good decision for my credit union?
These are just a few of the questions that keep popping up more and more each year. And they’re questions that, for the most part, don’t have simple answers.
At a time where credit unions are looking for more liquidity, expansion to other communities and perhaps moving to more commercial lending, acquiring a bank may make sense. We know that banks are closing branches at record numbers, creating banking deserts. Banks also favor credit union buyers since it necessitates a cash transaction, unlike a bank buyer where the purchase is made with stock.
For our upcoming 2023 Annual Convention & Exposition — which is less than a month away! — I thought I’d bring together a panel of professionals who have gone through this process. I want to open up this conversation further and really dissect the ins and outs of bank acquisitions and purchasing closed bank branches.
The panel, which will appear on Center Stage! Friday morning of the AC&E, will include Charley McQueen, CEO of McQueen Financial Advisors, Inc., United Federal Credit Union CEO Terry O’Rourke, 4Front Credit Union CEO Andy Kempf and Omni Community Credit Union COO Debi Southworth.
We’ll touch on the history of these acquisitions and shed some light on the process and lessons learned by leaders who have walked down this path. I hope to bring different perspectives and motivations so that the attendees can gain some knowledge on this interesting and relevant topic.
I hope to see you there!
Some of you may be attending one or more “commencement ceremonies” this spring – ceremonies to celebrate the graduation from kindergarten, middle school, high school and all the way through college. Personally, I’m reflecting on “commencement” – which literally means “a beginning” – today as I just celebrated the graduation of my favorite person, my daughter Julia. Julia graduated from the University of Michigan – Ross School of Business this past weekend, and I attended the commencement ceremony at Ross and the Big House to celebrate the occasion.
As Julia begins a new chapter in her life, after listening to various speeches and life advice at the ceremonies from students and keynotes, it has me thinking about the world that college graduates are launching into this year. It also has me thinking of the graduating class of 2023 and all they went through during their four years of school.
There were quite a few comments about how the graduating class lived through a global pandemic. This is very true. Julia’s last six weeks of freshman year were shut down, sending students home. Her entire sophomore year was virtual, and she chose to continue to live in Ann Arbor in order to maintain somewhat of a college experience. The start of junior year, they wore masks. Otherwise, a pretty normal experience!!!
While the four years was far from normal due to the pandemic, I am grateful she still had a traditional freshman year full of parties and Saturday gamedays in Ann Arbor. During Julia’s junior year, the world opened up for her to study abroad in Denmark, and her commencement ceremonies were in person – no masks in sight, with lots of handshakes and togetherness. In prior years, I know some of you had to endure virtual ceremonies or graduation from a car. What a bummer!
As a business school grad, Julia and her classmates are entering an interesting business world. For instance, I’m starting this Monday off reading about another bank failure with First Republic Bank, which leads me to reflect on the volatility of the times. Several of Julia’s classmates who secured jobs during last summer’s internships are having start dates delayed with the looming recession and significant loss of tech jobs. Some of whom were heading into a tech job only to find their future employer laying off employees and decreasing their workforce. With prices and rates still high, and the average price of an automobile close to $50,000, the environment for the graduates is not all sunshine and roses.
As parents of any graduating child, we hope for the best as they navigate their way into uncertain times. While I have reflected thus far on the economic uncertainty of our times, I would be remiss to not mention the political divisiveness that continues to reign over our government and the social divide and environmental crisis we find ourselves in. My daughter is also part of the generation growing up with not only tornado drills in school, but active shooter drills. Of course, the MSU shooting this year hit especially close to her.
While there are ups and downs heading into commencement – the beginning of a new chapter – there are also so many positives to consider for our graduates. The opportunity that lays ahead of them to make a difference, to show up maybe in a way that my class of Gen X did not. To recognize the difference between a chatbot writing a commencement address (which one speaker did say got them started in their remarks) and the heartfelt comments that only a human with experience can bring.
With turmoil and stress, our graduates have been challenged to work together, and in coming through a pandemic, in their world of disconnectedness and screens, they truly learned perhaps their biggest lesson over the four years: the power of being together, in person, face to face and hand in hand. When they lost that for a while in 2020, they still felt the sting three years later as they sat next to one another and embraced each other in celebration. For those priceless moments this past weekend, I am so grateful. Go Blue!
As you probably know, April is Financial Literacy Month, an important time for the credit union movement. It’s an annual effort to raise awareness of the importance of effective financial education and how key that is to leading a healthy life.
While April is not the only month that Michigan credit unions focus on financial literacy, it’s been great to see so many of you share the work you’ve been doing this month across social media. We can hear stats at the end of the year of how many students our movement reached, but there’s nothing like seeing actual photos of credit union professionals working in classrooms to educate children on healthy financial management. These face-to-face interactions are huge for these children and young adults, and they will go a long way toward setting them on a good path forward.
As I’ve been reflecting this month on what financial education means, I think it’s important to make sure the conversation doesn’t stop at children and young adults. Educating the future is incredibly important, but we also can’t forget our older population in the process.
Adults in the later stages of life need a different type of education. While things like technology become second nature for young adults, I’ve seen first-hand how confusing it can become for the older generations. Technology is moving at a rate that many can’t keep up with. Stuff like apps and email, while simple to many of us, can be like learning a new language for people who have always done their banking in person.
Unfortunately, this means our elderly population becomes vulnerable to scammers who are looking to steal information and finances via electronic frauds. It’s important that their financial partner be there to help identify these scams and provide support to properly navigate them.
In 2021, MCUL was a leading participant in the Department of Attorney General’s Elder Abuse Task Force, which collaborated to help create the Financial Exploitation Prevention Act (FEPA). I recommend checking out FEPA’s resources for credit unions, which we’ve placed on our website. I also want to highlight the Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan site, which also has resources to help credit unions best deal with any elder abuse, as well as the Try a Credit Union financial resource center for all kinds of goodies.
Of course, educating elders doesn’t stop at scam and abuse prevention. Many older adults benefit from help budgeting, managing debt and assets — all things I know Michigan credit unions do on a regular basis. Let’s continue to extend the conversation around Financial Literacy Month, raising awareness among our industry that financial literacy doesn’t stop with young adults.
Credit Unions & Cherry Blossoms
My last week was a whirlwind! I found myself in three cities in 10 days – Las Vegas (for fun); Charlotte, North Carolina for meetings with the American Association of Credit Union Leagues, and then to Washington, D.C.
I always enjoy networking and learning from league presidents from around the country. It is somewhat strange that only 32 other people in America hold my same job leading credit union associations. I appreciate meeting with and learning from other leagues as I am sure you enjoy networking with people who do what you do! There is no one that quite understands your daily work life like people who have the same responsibilities and challenges. Time and time again, MCUL's event attendees tell us the networking aspects of our events are the highlights; it gives people the opportunity to connect, learn and sometimes commiserate with others in your field. Oh! That reminds me, did you register yet for our annual convention?! The Annual Convention & Exposition is the largest networking event we host all year, so make sure you come to Grand Rapids in June.
From Charlotte, I headed to DC to support the Maryland & DC Credit Union Association at their Cherry Blossom Run. This was the 50th year of the race, and for several years it has been sponsored by credit unions, raising funds for Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). On Saturday, there were over 6,000 runners for the 5k and more than double that on Sunday for the 10-mile run. I joined in on the 5k and was happy to participate. My goal was to finish in 40 minutes (I am not fast!) and I was done in 34, so I was happy with that. The highlight of the event was watching the check presentation of $450,000 from the race to CMN!
All this writing about CMN and running reminds me … did you sign up to run in the 5k at our annual convention?! The Midland Chapter of Credit Unions is once again hosting our own run to raise funds for CMN. Join me on Friday morning of the convention by registering today.
We will not get the Cherry Blossom crowds but that does not diminish all the great work of the chapter nor adding to the pot of money to benefit children. Hope to see you there!
Another highlight in DC was seeing the actual cherry blossoms in full bloom. When I am typically in our capital, I am working and hiking the hill with little downtime. I took advantage of some personal time in DC to walk around the tidal basin with the trees in their full glory. If you have not been to DC during this time, try and add it to the bucket list!
We have all been watching and reading the news reports on the Silicon Valley Bank and the overall concern about the financial market. I have seen credit unions over the last couple of weeks promote how their safety and security for members.
Some of us are holding our breath to see how this is going to impact our industry. Will we be immune? Is this seen as a “bank” problem? Will all this lead to additional regulation? A lot of questions.
Happy to report that the general sentiment, thus far, from our Michigan community and that of leagues around the country is that credit unions and our members are holding strong. Other than a few withdrawals and some questions from members trickling in, it seems like we are holding tight.
On our industry Zoom call last week, we heard from Charley McQueen with some guidance on liquidity and ALM practices. I was also on a league call this week with NCUA Reginal Director John Kutchey, who reminded us that liquidity has been at the top of his list well before the bank failures. He uses a “tangible equity ratio” to remove unrealized losses from net worth to take a harder look at balance sheets. I suspect credit unions are ensuring their liquidity access is in good shape with access to multiple sources should it be necessary.
Other than organizing calls and asking some tough questions of our regulators, MCUL continues to push forward with lawmakers the message of the credit union difference. Reflecting internally, perhaps the fact that most credit union deposits fall at or below the insurable limit of $250,000 is a good thing in this environment.
No one debates that when a bank fails, it is bad news for every financial institution – bank or credit union. It creates a concern that customers and members will get nervous about their deposits, even when we know that nervousness is unfounded for credit unions and members.
There have been a couple schools of thought from the industry on how to respond, or if to respond, to the bank failures. Should we be proactive or reactive in messaging? If we do push something out to our members and community, what should we say? In reflecting on those questions, and how MCUL can best support its member credit unions, here is what I concluded.
First, while a bank failure is a concern for all financial institutions, MCUL only represents credit unions. Any messaging we do will focus on you, not banks. Second, in my opinion, there is never a bad time to remind Michiganders who credit unions are and who they become when they join – members and owners. Finally, it is never a bad idea, crisis or not, to remind people that their money is safe.
With those thoughts in mind, we sprang into action with a standalone awareness promotion different from the look and feel of our Try a Credit Union campaign, with a simple message about credit unions and safety. We hope it resonates with you and our Michigan community. The 30-second video is available for you to customize with your own logo or just for you to share. It will also be placed with a small media buy to use on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. It is a soft, subtle message that is timely and should resonate with current and future members.
Our team is here to support you and your team and thank you for your support and affiliation.
What a great time the MCUL team had with 150 of our Michigan credit union friends that joined us at the annual conference and hike. For those that have attended in the past, you know what a whirlwind the event is between the receptions, dinners, breakouts, main-stage events, vendor hall and hikes.
The highlights for me include bringing in the Michigan flag at the opening ceremony with our MCUL Board Chair, Heather Luciani; attending the Herb Wegner Memorial Awards dinner and hearing about the amazing honorees that make such a difference; and meeting with our congressional delegation.
I like opening the door to a member’s office and listening to a credit union advocate telling their story — hearing them talk about how changes to interchange would negatively impact their ability to protect members’ cards or about their overdraft protection product and how members use it and request it. There is nothing as important as credit unions telling their story. No one does it better. Kieran and I also enjoyed being on a panel to talk about our CDFI success in Michigan.
Another highlight for me is simply hanging out with attendees at our Michigan reception and throughout the event. The comradery of attendees enjoying the capital and networking with almost 6,000 credit union advocates from around the country cannot be beat. Everyone should hike the hill at least once in their credit union career.
Have you joined us? If not, come with us this fall!
|Here we go! Me and the General heading off to the festivities!|
As most of you know, I had the privilege of being invited to attend Pres. Biden's State of the Union address in Washington, D.C. this month. Congressman Jack Bergman, who serves Michigan's 1st District, extended the invitation to MCUL.
First, before I share the details of the event, I have to comment on the fact that the League was invited to attend. Each representative only gets to invite one guest. This means that a Michigan congressman chose our industry as his guest. What a tribute to all of our credit union advocates and our own MCUL advocacy team for building this relationship and strong connection to our industry. Never having been to the State of the Union -- I typically watch from home on my couch with a beer like most of you -- I was not sure what to expect. I first learned that there was a background check involved, which is not surprising. I passed that, luckily... . I then learned that prior to the actual address, there are various receptions that the Congressman and I would attend. Being a 20-plus year veteran in our industry, I am a pro at receptions and was looking forward to attending.
The receptions were very cool. The Congressman actually escorted me on his arm down the street to our first stop at the Library of Congress. Some of you may recall that Bergman took a group of us on a tour of the library at one of our Hikes, so I had been to the library with him once before. As most of the representatives bring a guest, the receptions were an opportunity for each representative to introduce their guest to the other guests and members of congress. I enjoyed this. The Congressman often introduced me as "This is Patty Corkery, she runs the credit unions," which I thought was pretty funny. It was nice to see others from our Michigan delegation at the receptions, like Reps. Slotkin, Huizenga, Moolenaar and new representatives, Reps. Scholten and Thanedar. I think they were surprised to see me there! I also had a chance to talk with our Michigan Speaker of the House, Joe Tate, who was a guest like me.
|Having fun under the dome!||Inside the Library of Congress.||Me with the Speaker!|
From the Library of Congress, we headed over to the Capital through the tunnels. Only congress was able to get into the Capital area as everything was tightly locked down. We went right to the Speaker's offices for a reception. We walked through a door and right in front of us was Speaker McCarthy! We quickly grabbed a professional photo, and I snagged a selfie. The Speaker assured me he is a credit union member.
|What a night!
Walking away from the Capitol.
From that reception, Bergman walked me up to the gallery where I had an assigned seat. Security was tight and I couldn’t bring in my purse, phone or smartwatch, so no photos from the inside. I said my goodbyes to the General as he was going to sit in his seat on the floor. It was a tight fit in the gallery and I sat right behind the Mayor of New York City! I was nowhere near Bono or the First Lady ... I was on the other side, tucked in a corner. I know some friends were looking for me on TV but that did not happen.
It was quite the experience listening to the address in person from the gallery. Just like when you watch a sporting event in person, you never quite have the view or sound quality as you do from home, but It was totally worth it to be there in person. After the address, I left the Capital from a side door into the dark. It was eerily quiet as the entire grounds had been gated off for blocks and no one was allowed in.
My biggest takeaway, which you do not see from home, was the bipartisan spirit of the receptions. At the actual address, we all watch some people stand and clap in a group and other remain seated and some people heckle and shout while the President is speaking. Before that, though, and away from the cameras, republicans and democrats were mingling, smiling and introducing their guests to everyone -- whether red or blue. I witnessed a collegial environment not talked about in the media. I witnessed Bergman warmly greet democrats and others. It was a light, festive evening as a guest and this is what I will remember.
Leadership and Collaboration
Like most of you, I spend a decent amount of time trying to hone my leadership skills. This endeavor has me listening to podcasts that focus on leadership guidance and advice or picking up a leadership book or article. After going through a handful of sources, certain themes develop and carry over from one theme to the other. My podcast interview with NCUA Chairman Todd Harper, launching next week, also had me thinking of leadership and what about myself I should develop or cultivate to be a good leader.
A theme that I have found in recent leadership articles and podcasts is that of collaboration. Most of us have learned there is rarely a “lone genius” running an organization. Leaders who think they have all the knowledge and expertise are rarely successful in building strong teams and creating a collaborative culture. I am learning, in my leadership path, that the CEO is not a person who has all the answers but, instead, is the person who finds and builds a team of people who do. Getting that kind of team in the same room and encouraging collaboration sounds like a key to success for an organization.
What I consider now is: how to build an environment where collaboration is celebrated? If you have some answers to this question, please reach out! One podcast I listened to, the HBR IdeaCast, advocated for creating an atmosphere that enables and encourages people to put out radical ideas that can spark a conversation. These ideas may not even be actionable and may even come off silly, but throwing out ideas can build conversation. Being a CEO and listening to these types of collaboration discussions would be fascinating. When it's only the CEO producing the ideas, not only is that a lot of pressure on the leader, but it creates a team that may be inclined to just rubber-stamp that idea – which may not even be a very good one. When I reflect on this process of collaboration, I recognize that a CEO needs to be comfortable listening and accepting that there are people on their team smarter than they are. And if there isn't, that's a problem.
I like the idea of hiring and retaining people who are empowered to come to the table free to share ideas – even better ideas than I share. Not only does this just sound a lot more fun than being the only one talking, but it's also more of a recipe for success. Let me know what you think!
Politics Overload and Pushing Through
I think a lot of us have felt overwhelmed by the news and it never seems to get any lighter. Hearing about the search for classified documents at the President’s home, multiple votes for a house speaker and an allegation that a representative in New York stole money from a dog?! These are just a few of the headlines that keep us shaking our head.
In the brutal world of politics, it was interesting to hear that the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was stepping down. She said that she knew what the job as prime minister takes, and that she “no longer ha[d] enough in the tank to do it justice.” A former prime minister of New Zealand said that Jacinda had faced a new level of hatred and vitriol in the world of 24/7 media cycles and social media. That can be said for so many of our politicians. Our own governor has seen her fair share of hatred.
There is no doubt that being in politics is a daunting job. Lobbying politicians, as we do in the credit union industry, can likewise be daunting. When leaders are trying to tackle a pandemic, inflation and getting elected, it can be a challenge to get our representatives to focus on credit union issues.
Despite the uphill climb we face on some of our important issues, the key is to continue to push forward. That is exactly what more than 100 of us from Michigan are doing as we travel to Washington, D.C. for the CUNA GAC next month.
The resolute focus and continued meetings bring results. Like Rep. Bill Huizenga co-sponsoring the CU Board Governance Modernization Act in Congress, making a major difference for our federally chartered credit unions. These victories may seem small, but they are a reminder that our elected officials are listening and that we need to continue having the conversations. Progress happens when you persist.
When the world of politics seems overwhelming, I am comfortable to put my head down, my lapel pin on and focus on our credit union issues. Carving out that piece of the political pie in my work life makes what’s happening outside our industry easier to process. Getting to know our new lawmakers and talking about our credit unions and their communities and members makes political engagement fun and worthwhile.
While things do not move as fast as we would like, and when challenges come our way that we oppose (Durbin 2.0), we keep on hiking and talking to make a difference. Looking forward to hiking beside you soon.
Bucket-List Trip Takeaways
As some of you may know, I spent my recent Christmas and New Year’s Eve holiday on a bucket-list trip to Egypt. My daughter, Julia, and I spent 10 nights (with another two on airplanes) in Cairo, Aswan and Luxor. I refer to the time not only as a vacation, but also an adventure.
I am a firm believer that if you are able, you should try and hit some bucket-list trips prior to retirement. I have heard from several friends that they are saving some big trips for when they have more time in retirement. I have avoided this for a couple reasons. First, most trips that rise to a bucket-list variety for me take a lot of stamina, mobility and hours, if not days, of travel time – all of which are better to accomplish when younger! Second, as we all know too well, we are not guaranteed a retirement. That is a gift that is not something we can count on.
There were several times during my recent adventure that I reflected how fortunate I was to be in Egypt. I am privileged to earn a living that gives me the opportunity to take such a trip. Also, I appreciate that not everyone has the physical ability to make this journey. As I have gotten older, I have learned to appreciate and be thankful for feeling the sun on my face in a far-off land and taking it all in, one day at a time. I know several industry colleagues that know exactly what I am talking about as I am surrounded by a lot of travel junkies in credit union land. You know who you are!
Seeing the pyramids, the tombs and temples of Egypt is hard to describe. I read in advance that some people, when seeing the pyramids for the first time, get pretty emotional. I’m guessing this is because we’ve all grown up learning about ancient Egypt and reading, even now, of the continued discoveries that occur in the region. Or perhaps it’s just the one powerful fact that they were unexplainably made yet are still standing after thousands of years!
One of the outings that had me misty-eyed was walking into King Tutankhamun’s tomb. We all learned about the 1920’s discovery of the tomb as being the only tomb discovered thus far that was untouched from robbers and looters. Walking down into the tomb and seeing the murals and body of the “boy king” was emotional for me. Climbing up into the actual Great Pyramid, which I did not even know you could do, was also a highlight.
While the adventure was filled with jam-packed days for me and Julia, where I savored the quality time with my college senior, I must also admit that I couldn’t ignore the poverty and pollution around me. The air quality in Cairo was poor and, at times, very noticeable for an American such as myself. The hundreds of stray dogs and cats we saw on the streets, as well as the underfed working horses was also hard to witness when you’re not used to it being a part of your own culture.
I learned that the lower-middle-class Egyptian earns the equivalent of $100 U.S. per month. This includes those who worked on our Nile cruise and the hotel cleaning staff that I interacted with every day of our trip. Everyday life is hard for Egyptians. While I was initially flattered when several people could not believe Julia was my daughter and that I must be much younger than my 50 years, I soon realized that 50 years looks a lot different on an American woman than an Egyptian woman.
Prior to my adventure, I reached out to George Ombado, the Executive Director of the African Confederation of Co-operative Savings & Credit Associations (ACCOSCA), to inquire about any credit unions I could visit in Cairo. He responded that they are few and far between and he did not have relationships with any for me to visit. While there, I thought about this and reflected on how much difference a credit union could make in the lives of the Egyptian people.
In the few days of reflection that I have had since returning, I appreciate even more that despite the many challenges of our country, we are truly lucky to have been born here. This appreciation probably resonates even more with immigrants that become U.S. citizens. Egyptians, even the wealthy ones, struggle to get approval to leave the country. Travel for most Egyptians is not a possibility.
In conclusion, hopefully a few lessons sink in with my experience. Take the time when you have it to check off a bucket-list adventure; don’t wait too long! If you’re looking for a destination, I strongly recommend making the journey to Egypt. Not only for the ancient sites but also meeting the friendly and welcoming Egyptian people who, when they learned we were from America, told us to send our friends. I am living up to my end of that request by sharing my thoughts and some photos with you.
Happy new year, friends. Let’s have an amazing and adventurous 2023! Cheers!
During my discussions with Michigan credit union leaders this year, the conversation inevitably touches on a topic that’s affecting much more than just our industry: talent retention. We talk about how leaders can or are attracting professionals who will be an asset for the organization not just now, but for years to come.
I’m not breaking any news by telling you it’s been a difficult process for many employers to restore a talented workforce following the toughest months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The expectations of employers have changed, so credit union leaders have been adapting, meeting professionals where they are in order to cultivate a work culture that creates a positive environment for members and the entire team.
While executives can and should be tailoring their operations to find this new culture, it’s up to us leagues to find ways to assist member credit unions, paving a clearer path for talent retention. At MCUL, we focus on two things that do so: public policy and our consumer awareness campaign.
In public policy circles, Michigan’s top policymakers grapple everyday with how to ensure that Michigan is a top destination for talent, and to make sure that Michiganders don’t want to (or have to) leave. While the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) generally sticks to its credit union lane on advocacy topics, the importance of issues that affect our business community and its ability to attract and retain talent is rising.
Much like our interest in issues of broadband development, access and adoption, credit union leagues need to become cheerleaders and supporters for positive and proactive policy that helps our members and the businesses within our communities thrive.
In Michigan, we are paying attention to policies that ensure local access to employee benefits, as well as any policies that make our communities more attractive. This means issues like financial literacy curriculum that better the quality of schools. It can be business growth, job growth or any number of topics that credit unions touch through their business activities and community presence that go toward improving the daily lives of Michiganders.
We are not the natural lead on many of these issues, but we remain engaged with our partners in the business advocacy community. MCUL, our member credit unions and our peers around the country need to be active in their chambers of commerce, business and community groups to make sure the credit union voice is a part of the support for, and demand for, policies that bolster our communities.
Consumer Awareness Campaign
This past August, we launched our new consumer awareness campaign, which was targeted to consumers in the range of 18-39 years of age. While the main concept was raising awareness of credit unions as a viable option for their trusted financial partner, we also decided to fold in a new wrinkle.
This year’s campaign also aims to educate younger Michigan residents about credit unions as a viable option for their career path — a place where they can become part of a larger family while building their career.
To help prospective team members get started, we created an easy-to-use job board that includes all current Michigan credit union openings and is searchable by area, organization and job level. You can find it at TryACreditUnion.com.
Of course credit union leaders are going to continue to do everything they can to attract and retain talent, but better stewardship at the league level — finding easier solutions to their problems — means they can more quickly get back to their main focus: providing for their members.
December 2022 This article was originally published on CUInsight.com.
A Holiday Message
It's hard to believe that we are soon saying farewell to another year. While we're excited about what's to come in 2023, I will raise a glass this New Year’s Eve to celebrate a good, if sometimes difficult, 2022.
While COVID was still top of mind throughout the year, and people left and right were testing positive, it was a relief to know that symptoms were most often mild and not life threatening. This allowed us to focus more on content and collaboration at our events, and we were pleased to have strong attendance and participation.
Advocacy efforts kept our team busy, especially with redistricting and the midterms. We were pleased to host our state GAC, attend the CUNA GAC and have our fall Hike the Hill in DC. Nothing is better than in-person contact with our lawmakers and regulators; your support and attendance is appreciated and necessary to our collective success.
Thank you so much for your affiliation and support this year. We continue to see record attendance on our Zoom industry calls, strong attendance at our events and positive feedback on League communication efforts. We have an amazing MCUL team that show up each day proud to work in this great industry.
When I reflect on the year, I can't help but think about the loss of our colleague and friend, Jordan Kingdon. This was no doubt the hardest time for me and the entire MCUL team. I will be thinking about his kids this Christmas as they try and celebrate their first holiday without their dad. For those of you that have lost someone special this year, I hope that you can find some peace this season. I know that this time of year can just be plain hard.
Whatever your plans are over the next few weeks, I wish you a warm and healthy celebration and some quiet moments for you to reflect on the year. Maybe a few days off to recharge and read a good book or binge-watch some TV. I recommend White Lotus as a show I could not wait to drop each Sunday night!
I will be spending the holiday traveling with my favorite travel partner – my daughter, Julia. We will be celebrating Christmas and ringing in the new year in Egypt. This year has taught me to seize the day and not wait too long to start checking off some bucket-list items. My blog will be back in January and, until then, I wish you a nice holiday season and cheers to a great year ahead!
MI vs OHIO
I think everyone in Michigan — whether a Wolverine or Spartan — was happy that the Wolverines beat Ohio State on Saturday! What a great game and a terrific season for the Wolverines at 12 wins and no losses. With a senior at U of M, and an alum, I was really happy with this victory! Go Blue!
Okay, okay … I'll tone it down for the Spartans and non-Wolverines out there The second point to this week's blog is to give a huge shoutout to Michigan and Ohio for the money raised in our Michigan League vs. Ohio League fundraising contest.
This was a several-days long campaign to outraise one another in the spirit of leagues coming together to raise funds for CULAC. CULAC is the political action committee of CUNA that promotes pro-credit union candidates around the country. Several of our pro-credit union Michigan federal delegation has received funds from CULAC.
While Michigan was successful on the field Saturday, sadly, the Ohio League outraised us by a mere $40!!! Ohio raised $5,925 for CULAC and Michigan came in at $5,885 for a total of $11,810 raised!!! Thank you to all who contributed and encouraged contributions. Congratulations to the Ohio League — at least it was not a total loss this weekend . This fundraiser will give a nice boost to CULAC and we will all benefit from the dollars raised. Thank you again to those who joined in!
Contributions to CULAC are not tax-deductible. Individuals who are associated with CUNA's state credit union leagues or with CUNA-affiliated credit unions that have signed a permission agreement with their leagues are eligible to participate in CULAC. All contributions to CULAC are strictly voluntary and will be used for political purposes. You have the right to refuse to contribute without any reprisal.
Be Recognized! Submit an MCUL & MCUF Awards Nomination
I know this is the time of year when things start to pile up — juggling family and travel during the holidays with important end-of-year business like strategic planning and wrapping up various other projects.
I totally get it … but, I also know you’re doing something else during the coming weeks: reflecting. It’s a perfect time to look back on what you did this year, what you didn’t do this year and how you can use that reflection to grow in the coming year.
I have personally seen all of you work so hard throughout this year to make this movement stronger. You’ve provided necessary services for members in need, dedicated time and services to your communities, continued to make your workplaces a better place for team members and have fought with us at the state and national level for more credit union-friendly legislation.
All of these efforts deserve recognition, which is why I’m asking you to self-nominate yourself or your credit union for a 2023 MCUL or MCUF Award. These awards are designed to reward Michigan credit unions, chapters and professionals who are improving our state through their innovation and dedication to our great state.
The nomination deadline has been extended into January.
You can find awards nominations and individual award information here.
(Updated) Nominate a YP for a Full-Ride to the World Credit Union Conference!
Have you heard about this cool new opportunity? MCUL is offering a full-ride scholarship for one of our young professionals to attend the 2023 World Credit Union Conference in Vancouver, Canada, July 23-26.
I cannot think of a better way to have one of our up-and-coming credit union team members see, first-hand, the world credit union community come together. This is an amazing opportunity for a credit union CEO to lift up someone on their team by nominating them for this trip.
To apply, Michigan credit union CEOs need to simply send me an email (email@example.com) no later than Nov. 30, naming an employee from their credit union that is 40 or under and tell me a bit about why you are nominating them. Also list the employee’s name and position. From all submissions, we will randomly draw a winner and announce it in December. Only one submission per credit union, please.
Not a CEO? Make sure your CEO learns about this and nudge them with a recommendation! I am really looking forward to this event, and it will be my first time attending this conference. I am excited to see all the nominations. Please consider coming with us so we can show up strong for Michigan!
2023 MCUL Young Professional World Council of Credit Unions Scholarship Winner
Congratulations to Samantha Tillman of Parkside Credit Union for being awarded a Michigan Credit Union League & Affiliates Young Professionals’ Scholarship to attend the 2023 World Credit Union Conference in Vancouver, Canada, next July 23-26, co-hosted by World Council of Credit Unions and the Canadian Credit Union Association. The scholarship will cover registration, flight, hotel and a meal stipend.
Since joining the Parkside Credit Union team in 2018, Sam has brought so much value to her peers, their members and the credit union. Sam started as a MSR in their Livonia branch and quickly became a go-to resource for members and staff alike. Earlier this year, Sam was promoted into the HR department as a Trainer and quickly revamped their new hire training process, creating many efficiencies for Parkside.
The World Credit Union Conference, a World Council of Credit Unions initiative, is an annual event that provides the opportunity to learn and connect with credit union professionals from around the globe. The event’s agenda is packed with educational opportunities designed to ensure attendees excel in the credit union industry. Throughout the program, networking opportunities are available to meet your global peers.
Celebrate Our Global Movement
As you all know, the third Thursday in October is designated International Credit Union (ICU) Day by the World Council of Credit Unions. While it’s my job to think about the Michigan credit union movement, I particularly appreciate ICU Day because it gives me a chance to take a step back and recognize the importance and strength of our movement across the entire globe.
ICU Day is all about raising awareness of credit unions’ core mission and cooperative structure and how that directly benefits being a member. The theme of this year is “Empower Your Financial Future with a Credit Union.”
Empowering financial futures, as well as raising credit union awareness, is something we’ve been thinking a lot about recently at the League during the conception of our latest CU Link campaign, “Credit unions. For real. For your future.” We’re looking forward to how that campaign can reach younger generations and educate them about all the good works that credit unions do on a daily basis.
We put a page together showcasing many of the good works our movement has done this year, as well as links to some promotional materials you can download for this year’s ICU Day and a webinar the World Council is holding for the global credit union movement on ICU Day.
Check those out and remember to share your celebrations on social media. I can’t wait to see them!
Hike and CU Kind
We had an awesome time with our Michigan advocates in Washington, D.C. during last month's MCUL Hike the Hill. So much took place over the course of two packed days. We met with most of our congressional delegation and talked about interchange, overdraft, the Federal Credit Union Act modernization bills, CDFI certification and more.
Nearly 50 people joined us to tell their story and advocate for their members. The group included many first-time attendees, which is always a great way to show our credit union movement in action to the newer members of the industry.
At the Credit Union House, in addition to several meetings with our delegation, we held a very special induction ceremony. Patty Campbell, President & CEO of Christian Financial Credit Union, into the Hall of Leaders for her years of advocacy and promotion of the credit union difference. Also inducted, posthumously, was our friend, Jordan Kingdon, for his commitment and fierce advocacy. It was a very special ceremony with very few dry eyes in attendance. Congratulations, again, to our friend Patty Campbell!
Next week, we continue to promote the Michigan credit union movement by showcasing all the amazing work you do in your community during CU Kind Day. More than 70 credit unions are joining us on Oct. 10 to showcase all they do to better their communities. I cannot wait to see the posts! Thanks to all the credit unions joining us. At MCUL, we have a day of giving-back planned for our team and will join you in the commitment to community.
Make it a great week!
Happy fall, y'all! What a summer! I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some sunshine this season, perhaps on one of Michigan’s great lakes. Those who attended last week’s MCUL Executive Summit were rewarded with some amazing Michigan weather up in Petosky.
In hearing the feedback from attendees at the event, far and away, the comments on our exit survey show that attendees love hearing from other credit unions. This is something that we doubled down on during the pandemic – reaching out and listening to one another. The more credit unions share with each other, the more we grow. All of you are the experts and sharing what you’re working on and how you’re meeting obstacles and challenges, whether it be hiring, rising rates and member growth, is the way we help one another.
I enjoy being the connector of people and experts, and time and time again, the experts are you. I was excited to not only see that the spirit of cooperation lives on, but also happy to hear this is what people value at our events. It happened at this year’s human resources event as well as our executive event. So please, keep attending and sharing. I know this is of help to our up-and-coming leaders, who are always looking for ideas on how to better serve their members. Hope to hear from you at an event soon!
Credit Union Labor
This blog post will come to you the day after Labor Day, the federal holiday to take a day off and celebrate American workers. I hope you enjoyed the long weekend! The holiday triggered me to remind myself of the origins of the day and reflect on our credit union teams.
Back in the late 1880s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, the average American laborer worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks! Children – as young as 5 and 6, worked in mills, mines and factories across the country. The very poor and recent immigrants worked in dangerous and grueling conditions. Workers began to organize and protest such conditions leading to several marches – the most significant one being in 1882, when 10,000 workers took unpaid time to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City. That event marked the first Labor Day Parade. Ultimately, Labor Day became known as a “working man’s holiday” and in 1894, Pres. Grover Cleveland signed into law that Labor Day was a legal holiday. All this history can be found on history.com.
When I travel internationally, especially to places like Italy, I am reminded how much Americans work. Where some workers in Italy and Spain, for example, take really long lunches to relax and nap, we are often found eating at our desks. I was talking to a new, young lawyer this year and he was thrilled that all court hearings are now online and he does not have to drive to court. Don’t get me started on how much he is missing out on with digital hearings, but his comment that he can now be even more productive without the drive time had me shaking my head. I was like, “Yep, so great that you can log even more billable hours.” Sigh.
Labor also has me thinking about our teams when we are short-staffed. Our team members are hustling to make up for the fact that we are down in numbers. I just came from a hospital lab where they were clearly short staffed, and I profusely thanked the woman who was there frantically trying to make our wait time as short as possible. She seemed to appreciate the acknowledgement.
So, while I would like to say that it is unfortunate that our culture is driven to work so hard, I want to remind you all to stop and smell the roses, it seems like with the lack of support we are enduring, smelling the roses is a fantasy now. For those of you reading this that are working double-time to serve members in a place of employee scarcity – THANK YOU. You are the true heroes of the current labor movement. To all the baristas out there at my favorite Starbucks, THANK YOU for working and hanging in there despite the nasty comments and stares from annoyed customers. To the Amazon drivers delivering packages on a Sunday morning – THANK YOU! To my drive-thru teller listening to honking horns while we wait in a long line, THANK YOU for all you do to support the members. For the rest of us, instead of smelling the roses, let’s make sure we are pausing to thank our credit union labor movement and others that are hanging in there and hustling. Thank you for reading!
Our Amazing HR Teams
This month, I attended MCUL’s HR&R conference in Traverse City, which was marketed as a wonderful networking, educational and fun conference for the amazing human resources teams serving at our credit unions.
The two-day event was filled with networking, eating, drinking and kayaking. The most interesting session for me was the “Say it in Seven” session, where we asked your HR professionals to say a few words about how credit unions are tackling this new environment of hybrid work and other challenges.
There were several interesting discussions in this session, but a few stood out to me. Ellen Davis of Gerber Federal Credit Union cautioned us that we may be missing new employees that are “right under our nose.” She talked about passing out her business card when she has a great server at a restaurant. Ellen also talked about engaging FSRs and member service team members to scout new employees when they’re meeting with a member that has an impressive application or great attitude.
Silvia Dimma from MSU Federal Credit Union walked us through the change in employee expectations. She reminded us that, in the 20th century, there was a “loyalty contract” with employees where their basic needs were pay, benefits and security, and their focus was on retention. Looking to current times, she talked about the new phase we’re in with the workforce, which she dubbed the “lifestyle contract.” This contract is where employees are focused on their wellbeing – physical, mental, emotional and financial – with a need for sustainability and healthy experiences. Silva then walked us through various competency models deployed at MSUFCU that focus on continuous learning, coaching and development and a series of several micro-courses for employees to develop in their careers.
We also heard from Jennifer Tange of Allegan Credit Union. Jennifer shed light on various engagements at her credit union to retain team members and address the fact that their team has grown quickly in number. For example, Allegan formed the Good Human Committee, which meets to brainstorm ways to engage the team and talk through DEI issues. She also talked about the “Share the Love” bonus, which is when an employee leaves, and as their salary has been budgeted already, the credit union takes a portion of those dollars and gives a bonus to the people who remain. Love it!
Very inspiring efforts happening around our state to attract, retain and develop our teams!
Overdraft Task Force's Best Practice Guidance
For the past handful of months, I know issues and general uncertainty around the future of overdraft and NSF fees have become an increasing point of anxiety for our credit unions. We know this is key not only because of the value members place on overdraft protection, but also non-interest income that supports various areas of your credit unions.
As a response, MCUL put together an Overdraft Task Force, made up of nearly 20 credit union professionals and a few MCUL representatives. This group developed a two-part mission – to create and send a survey to all Michigan credit unions to gauge current overdraft and NSF practices and, in using those survey results, develop some best-practice guidance. Thanks to the credit unions that responded, we were able to see what the majority of our credit unions were doing or considering in this area.
I want to thank the wonderful group of individuals that made up the task force and thank them for their time and commitment. The task force has put together a document of Overdraft Best Practices, which can be downloaded here:
These best practices set forth guidance on how to consider ongoing and plan potential changes to your programs during this time of uncertainty.
The task force couldn’t have done this without the responses we received from our recent survey about the topic. I was happy to have a 67% response rate from credit unions. Thank you for all of your thoughtful feedback!
Please take a few moments to download and read through these best practices. On behalf of the Overdraft Task Force, I hope it helps you navigate this volatile area of your everyday operation
Say 'Hello' to Our New Careers Page
Happy mid-summer! As always, it is a great time to live in our beautiful state.
One of the top three issues we are currently hearing from our credit unions, large and small, is staffing issues – finding candidates to fill open positions. As an association, we craft what we do for our members in line with member needs. For years, our website has had a “Classifieds” page, wherein we posted available credit union jobs. It was lackluster and, really, was just a long, running list of positions. We took on the challenge to better support you in this area and I am really pleased with the result.
We rebranded the page to be “Michigan Credit Union Careers” and have made the page a lot better. Job-seekers can now search by position type, region, city – including remote – and even by credit union. Each listed job will show position details and how to apply or find more information.
Another new feature is that the information can be uploaded directly by our credit unions. You no longer have to wait for it to be posted, but can do it at your own convenience!
Our plan is to take this page public-facing. We have created a site – MyCUcareer.com – for the public to get to this page as well. This site will host not only positions but industry news as well. This page will be featured in an upcoming consumer awareness ad that will be shared on TikTok and SnapChat for people to see. We are really looking forward to making an impact and driving new people to our industry.
Check out our new page here: MyCUcareer.com.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your day!
Ode to Ryan Donovan
Like most of my peers in advocacy, I was saddened by the news that our own Ryan Donovan was leaving the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) in early September. If you do not know Ryan, he is currently the EVP and Chief Strategy Officer at CUNA.
While this blog is incorrectly titled an ode, it is not exactly a poem. It is, however, praise for my friend and colleague, Ryan. Like a lot of states, in Michigan we are seeing several of our long-time CEOs retire this year. While it's exciting to see new CEOs take over the reigns, just like I am happy for my friend Ryan to take over as the President/CEO at the Council of Federal Home Loan Banks, there is sadness there when the person you have established a relationship, and friendship, with over the years departs for another chapter.
Since I first met Ryan in 2018, he has been so patient and informative while I learned the world of federal advocacy in my role at the Michigan Credit Union League. As League President, I mostly interact with Ryan at AACUL meetings and various other events. Despite the fact he bears a striking resemblance to my ex-husband (a fact I never shared with Ryan!), it is always great to see him and listen to Ryan present. Ryan is always approachable and present in our conversations. He gets fired up and passionate when needed, and slow and deliberate when it is appropriate. There is no issue he cannot talk about, and his passion for our credit unions shines through every time we meet.
During our interactions, I have also enjoyed hearing about his Peloton obsession -- his passion for getting up early enough to beat us to the solo Peloton at a hotel and his patience in waiting for his wife to allow him to purchase one for his home. He sent me a link to find a Peloton at any hotel around the world ... Uh, thanks Ryan! I enjoy seeing Ryan's daughters on Facebook and it's clear to me that he dotes on them like any good dad should. And who knew he was also a good salsa dancer, which he demonstrated at a recent League President outing?!
Ryan, I wish you luck on your new endeavor. They are lucky to have you. I am not sure how I feel about you leading an organization with "bank" in the name, but that's okay. I know they play an important role in our system and you may hear from me down the road when I am looking to have more credit unions on the board! Thank you for your passion and commitment to our industry and I have no doubt we will meet again. Whether our encounter is me waiting for you to get off the bike at some hotel gym or seeing you at a lobby bar watching your Cardinals play, I look forward to seeing you soon.
Thank you for your service.
A lot of us have been focusing on the “I” in DEI lately. Very basic DEI training has taught us that it is not enough to just make space, but efforts must be made for people that have been traditionally left out to be included; to be part of; to be embraced and welcomed even though they have been there all along. In Michigan we have witnessed several examples of credit unions making efforts of inclusion for everyone. Inclusion, to me, means to notice and to embrace. Inclusion is the long game in DEI.
I attended my first, and I feel safe in saying not my last, Juntos Avanzamos —Together We Advance — proclamation honoring MSU Federal Credit Union this month. This designation, bestowed by our friends at inclusiv, recognized MSUFCU’s efforts to include and support the Latino community. At the ceremony in East Lansing, the efforts by MSUFCU to embrace this community, which has traditionally been underserved and left behind, was moving. What really stood out to me were the remarks from the Latino community on how important it was for them to have a place to bank that they are a “part of” instead of “left out.” The Latino community knows that at MSUFCU that they can find Spanish speaking representatives, Spanish forms and products and services with their needs in mind. The community was so moved, and emotions were so deep that some had a hard time speaking. I was honored to witness this declaration of inclusion.
Pride events happened around the state, and the world this month. Our league Facebook feed was full of our Michigan credit union team members showing their pride and allyship at events around the state. I was proud to see our community shine.
Also this month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with the President of the Credit Union Association of New Mexico, Juan Fernandez, for an interview on our league’s podcast. Juan talked about his state’s efforts to support a LGBTQ+ employment group – CU Shine. This group, who met for the first time in April, is made up of New Mexico credit union employees that are part of the LGBTQ+ community or are an ally. Juan detailed the first gathering and how much it meant to this group that, prior to the event, felt left behind. I wish I had been able to witness that gathering. I know I would have looked around at smiling, proud faces that felt seen and heard.
Another source of inclusion took place at our league’s annual convention in June where we held space and recognized our industry young professionals. We support two groups – FUEL and 906hYPe – both made up of young professionals from credit unions around the state. If you are a regular attendee of credit union conferences, you may have noticed that the audience is often made up of C-suite employees or board volunteers. Sometimes we carve out time and budget only for seasoned employees. But creating space and including our up-and-coming leaders has several benefits, least of which is helping educate them to advance in their careers. Including YP’s and shining light on them gives them the feeling of being seen and heard. I am proud of our industry’s commitment to the YP movement.
Finally, through a mentoring program that I have been so proud to be part of, I was asked this month to write a recommendation letter for an African American credit union professional looking to advance her career. If not for this program, we would never have met, and I would not have come to know her over the last several months. By devoting the time to take part in a program that got me out of my comfort zone and let someone else into my professional circle, I was able to write several detailed reasons why her credit union should advance her to be included in the ranks of management. I hope she gets the job. For me, it was so nice to be asked to support her and be her advocate. Together, we advance.
There are so many ways to be inclusive and so many people who have been serving our industry with open arms for years. This is one of the many reasons I am proud to be part of this credit union family. My hope is that even more people step out and make the time to embrace those in our community that have not been traditionally part of their circle or footprint. Serving the underserved isn’t easy as traditional ways do not work. However, not only is such service in our DNA, expanding your footprint and circle to let others in has so many rewards. Least of which is pride.
June 2022 - Originally published on CUInsight.com
Credit Union Family
Our Michigan credit union family was the theme of my presentation at the 2022 MCUL Annual Convention & Exposition this past week in Detroit. I talked about how much the AC&E is like a reunion with our credit union family and how we all enjoy connecting and learning together. To add to that conversation, I elaborated that my actual family is also a credit union family. I invited my parents – Dave and Julie – to attend our opening session and asked them to stand and be recognized. My dad worked in credit unions from 1970 until his retirement 15 years ago. They really enjoyed being at the convention! I then reminded the group that my brother, Chris Corkery, is the CEO of Advantage One Credit Union! So, I have quite the internal, and external, credit union family.
I had no idea during my remarks that our credit union family would be hit with tragic news shortly after our opening session when we learned we lost a valuable member of our family. Jordan Kingdon, long-time MCUL employee and friend, passed away during the event. As the news rippled through our team, there were a lot of tears and shock. We rallied together to talk about how we were going to let our broader credit union family know, but also we were very sensitive to the fact that his family needed to hear first. As many of you know, Jordan left behind two children, Jillian, who is starting her sophomore year in college this fall, and Ethan, Jordan’s teenage son. Our hearts break for Jordan’s children and his entire family.
In true credit union fashion, we started a collection for a fund for Jordan’s children that is continuing to grow thanks to your generosity. Those funds will be put into a trust for their benefit. Thank you to everyone for contributing and for those would like more information can visiti our Kingdon Memorial Fund page. As I said during my remarks on stage, when hard times happen, we come together.
Overall, the AC&E was a success. We had great speakers and, thanks for our sponsors and vendors, some fabulous parties. Seeing our credit union family come together, embrace and celebrate Jordan’s life and another year in our industry was inspiring. We know all too well that we need to live each day and be grateful for our time. I am grateful for my time with each of you and my heartfelt thanks to you all for your support, engagement and commitment to this fabulous, enduring family.
You do not need me to tell you times are tough and they have been for some time. When tragedies happen, we all feel them differently and yet also similarly. When politics gets in the way, tragedy brings anger and debate. Removing politics, the recent tragedies that result in the murder of innocent children at school or people buying groceries who are gunned down because of the color of their skin, have brought immense sadness, confusion and has us all desperately asking "why?"
People that take a tragedy and turn it into action are people that should have light shined on them. They should be talked about and lifted up. Shellee Mitchell is one of those people. As you will learn in my recent podcast recording, where I sit down with Shellee, she felt she was at a crossroad following the murder of George Floyd and in insurrection at our nation's capital. So, she took action. She turned her anger and sadness into action and created a program designed to break down systemic racial barriers and gender biases.
In our conversation, you will learn about the one-to-one woman mentoring program where Shellee facilitates a group of white credit union professional women paired with and mentored by African American women who seek to advance their careers. The discussion focuses on what it's like to be a woman in our industry and the commonality, as women, we all have with one another regardless of the color of our skin. I thank Shellee for creating this program and continuing to connect and lift up women in our industry. And when I say lift up, I mean she is lifting up both the mentor and mentee.
Our conversation does not stop there. Shellee shares her personal fears and anxiety in raising two, young, African American sons. She is a single mom and along the way, has had to teach her boys something white moms often don't have to teach their boys - how to act when you get pulled over, not to wear hoodies and other ways she had to parent differently. It is tough to hear but it is important to listen.
As our industry continues to push forward with inclusion and education in these difficult times and with challenging topics, we embrace change-makers who help us along the journey. I am so grateful to have taken part in the mentorship program created by Shellee. I am a better leader and person because of it. Shellee - thank you, my friend. And I wish you much success and peace in your journey. Please listen in on the podcast.
Taking the Podcast to the AC&E
In just three weeks, we’re taking the Coffee, Credit Unions & Conversations podcast on the road! At this year’s Annual Convention & Exposition, we will be recording mini interviews for a special podcast episode.
Who are the guests? You are!
Any AC&E attendees are welcome to come to the podcast-branded table outside the expo hall to discuss pressing credit union issues, what our movement means to you and more. No matter where you are in your credit union career journey, we want to hear what’s on your mind.
The Coffee, Credit Unions & Conversations table will be open right outside the fourth floor expo hall, Renaissance Ballroom, at the following times:
- Thurs., June 9: 1:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
- Fri., June 10: 8:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
If you plan on taking part in the mini interviews, use the following short form to let us know:
Fun Time in da’ UP!
Did you know that more than 20 credit unions in over 15 counties make up the UP Chapter of MCUL? That is a lot of territory! Every year (except during Covid), the UP Chapter puts on a party around its annual meeting. The chapter typically hosts more than 500 people over a three-day event north of Escanaba at the Island Resort & Casino. This is also a time that they host a legislative breakfast for the attendees, along with a packed agenda.
Their 2022 conference, held last week, was their 74th annual. I can only imagine what they plan for the 75th, because they know how to party! This annual event stands as one of MCUL’s best examples of credit unions working together on their common mission, helping people and their communities. The passion of the attendees at the event is palpable. The credit unions are joined by vendors and speakers to meet with and educate the crowd. The event also recognizes those that stand out in the U.P. with an award. Kim Kareckas of Peninsula Federal Credit Union was honored with the UP Chapter Person of the Year and Tracey Tippett of Tru North Federal Credit Union received the UP Chapter Distinguished Service Award. Each year, the chapter also rewards a young professional with the Pat Ruecker Memorial Scholarship to attend MCUL’s Annual Convention. Be sure to look for Emily Cassel from Soo Co-Op in Detroit this year as the 2022 scholarship recipient. Congratulations to these amazing women.
In addition to a top-notch award ceremony, the chapter hosts a CEO gathering, has their own young professional “crashers” from 906 Hype and brings in a theme for the party. This year the theme was Kentucky Derby!
Highlights for me included spending some time with MCUL Board Director Connie Toensing and Alternate Director Jim Venesky. Due to the distance, I do not often have the opportunity to see them other than on Zoom. I was also happy to thank outgoing Chapter Chair Chris Ison, CEO of Tahquamenon Area Credit Union, for his service and welcome in David Rautiola, CEO of Michigan Tech Employees Federal Credit Union, as the new chapter chair.
I was also honored to sit down with the young professional group, 906 Hype, and ask them questions, such as why they chose the credit union industry over another employer and where we need to be better as an industry. I enjoyed hearing from Valerie Miotke of Limestone Federal Credit Union, who had the courage to leave the study of medicine in pursuit of her true passion – the credit union industry. Chelsea Orr, of Soo Co-Op Credit Union, spoke with delight about her credit union’s efforts and member engagement with technology. The event was not all work though and I had a great time hitting the dance floor with Ashley Edwardsen and Abby Runkel of Peninsula Federal Credit Union! (Notice there are no photos of this!) There were definitely some great insights from this group and the future of credit unions in the UP looks bright.
It was fun to spend time with this thriving chapter and listen in on the stories of community engagement, cooperation and enrichment that is alive and well with our northern friends. Cheers to the UP Chapter of Credit Unions! Our team was happy to take part in the festivities. Already looking forward to next year’s event in da’ UP!
The Numbers Are Looking Good In Michigan!
NCUA Q4 2021 Report: Michigan Credit Union Memberships See Three-Year High in 2021
Omicron continues supply chain disruption but doesn’t slow Michigan credit union memberships, now at 5.8 million.
The fourth quarter of 2021 looked all too familiar to the previous quarter with the rise of a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron. While this new variant continued Delta’s disruption of the global supply chain, it had little effect on the growth of the national economy and credit union financial performance, which was largely mirrored in Michigan.
Memberships in Michigan rose 0.8% (3.2% annualized) in the quarter — nearly 10 times faster than U.S. population growth. The state’s membership growth in 2021 came at a three-year high of 4.2%, pushing total Michigan credit union memberships to 5.8 million.
Membership growth by region (for trailing 12 months):
- Grand Rapids: 5.3%
- Traverse City: 4.6%
- Flint: 2.4%
- Muskegon: 1.6%
- Lansing: 1.5%
- Marquette: 0.9%
Michigan credit union loan portfolios increased 10.2% over the past year. This average is well above the national rate of 7.7%.
Q4 loan growth (by type):
- Member business loans: 23.8%
- First mortgages: 13.6%
- Used auto: 11%
- Credit cards: 3.1%
- New auto: 2.7%
The end of the fourth quarter also marked approximately one year out of the COVID-19-induced lockdown. While the year saw the dangerous breakthroughs of two variants of the virus, Michigan’s credit union memberships continued to rise, and at the fastest rate we’ve seen in a few years. After nearly two years of this pandemic, it’s clear to me that the membership our state has seen is not unrelated to the virus. During times of difficulty or general uncertainty, finding a trusted financial partner is a top priority. Last year, that’s exactly what we saw consumers do in Michigan, where membership growth outpaced population growth.
CUNA’s Q4 Member Benefits Report for 2021 shows that Michigan credit unions contributed to a total of $556 million in direct financial benefits to Michigan’s 5.8 million members over the previous twelve months. This total is equal to $83 per member or $174 per household.
These figures are calculated based on average savings differences between credit union and bank pricing. They result from financial benefits, such as higher CD rates and fee-free checking, as well as lower rates and fees on products like home, car and auto loans.
Find the complete Q4 2021 NCUA Call Report Data here.
You can also find more Q4 data on Michigan credit unions’ low rates and high dividends in the CUNA Q4 Member Benefits Report.
Are You There, Crypto? It’s me, Patty
Several times, I have picked up a book, article or conducted a Google search trying to better understand the basics and general culture of cryptocurrency and blockchain. I’m sure I’m not alone in finding this universe confusing, exciting, risky and complicated all at the same time. The crypto world is yet another area that makes me feel old and behind, as do so many other technological advances. But, attending a recent conference and hearing people that are older than me talk about their digital wallet and bidding on an NFT (non-fungible token), I knew I needed to roll up my sleeves and get up to speed. Even the title of the Sunday Business section of the recent The New York Times called its section on crypto, “The Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto.” So much of the article was full of new financial vocabulary. Uh oh, it’s official; I am late.
But what is a credit union’s role in crypto? Even after getting a basic education of the who, what, and when of it all, what is the “where” for credit unions? Where does crypto live in our world?
From a credit union league perspective, our role is to provide our member credit unions education in the crypto space, as well as to remove any barriers prohibiting credit unions from safely entering this space, provided they have the desire.
We can view it almost like cannabis banking — while now legal in Michigan, it’s an area that not everyone wants to participate in but still needs serious changes in the legal and regulatory space. While cannabis has a vastly complex tracking system and sample policies, procedures and tested oversight, the same cannot be said about crypto.
A recent whitepaper published by Cornerstone Advisors, “What’s Going On In Banking 2022: Rebounding from the Revenue Recession,” tells us that 25% of credit unions plan to offer cryptocurrency investing/trading by the end of 2023, and 17% of the 300 community financial institution executives say they plan to offer custody/safekeeping of crypto by the same timeframe.
Like it or not, crypto is everywhere. You see it on Venmo, watching the Superbowl, the Academy Awards and, if you are in LA, you might have been to the Crypto.com Arena.
Whether crypto is here to stay or not, I would like to see our credit unions get to a place where they safely explore their cryptocurrency options. We’re often trying to dispel the myth that credit unions are not tech savvy; what better way to distinguish ourselves as tech players than offering crypto education by a financial advisor or surveying investment options?
Are you one of the many credit unions looking to find some non-interest income? Maybe this technology can deliver.
While you will not find me looking to buy into the Bored Ape Yacht Club (Google it) anytime soon (or ever), I am excited to continue my education and to explore options for our Michigan credit unions in blockchain. Join me.
April 2022 This article was originally published on CUInsight.com.
This April, Kids Learn about Money, Credit Unions Shine!
The Michigan Credit Union Foundation (MCUF) not only supports our Michigan community by providing community enrichment grants and financial education to credit union professionals, its overall impact shines light on all of our Michigan credit unions in programs like Smart Money MI Kids Read. This program, through public libraries around the state, supports story time initiatives during April’s Financial Literacy Month.
Over 8,000 Michigan families will receive Count on Pablo, this year’s book. MCUF’s partnership with Michigan libraries, Michigan credit unions and the Michigan Financial Wellness Network makes this possible.
Again this year, we thank a team of financial educators from Community Financial Credit Union for volunteering at the Novi Public Library to sort, pack and distribute the books to participating libraries.
This is an initiative of the Michigan Financial Wellness Network, dedicated to providing Michigan residents with non-solicitous information, education and resources, to become better stewards of their money. Partners come from all sectors, including credit unions, social service, business, government, education, not-for-profit, media and more.
Each Count on Pablo book is stamped that it is brought to the reader from Michigan credit unions. This effort, along with so many other great MCUF initiatives, is possible thanks to the generous donations to the Foundation from credit unions, chapters and business partners.
Thank you for those who donated.
CUNA GAC 2022
Last week, I had the great pleasure of attending the CUNA GAC in D.C. along with more than 100 fellow Michigan advocacy leaders. We had great weather and a wonderful experience at the convention. Our MCUL advocacy team set us up for in-person visits with our Michigan congressional delegation. While virtual visits have worked well, nothing beats meeting in person and interacting with the delegation face-to-face.
We were also happy to be joined by Andre Vygnanski, president/CEO of the Ukrainian Selfreliance Michigan Federal Credit Union. All our visits touched on the current crisis in Ukraine, and it was helpful to have Andre's perspective and input. Please check out our MCUL Facebook page for ways you can help during this terrible time in Ukraine.
Most of our hill visits took place at the Credit Union House. If you’re not aware, for 20 years, credit unions have invested in and supported a house on Capitol Hill. It’s a great testament to the strength of credit unions and our fierce support for advocacy. Be sure to check it out next time you’re in D.C. You’re welcome to take a tour! Visit the Credit Union House.
For me, the highlight of the event was walking into the opening ceremony with our MCUL Chair, Heather Luciani. This was my first GAC as your league president and carrying in the Michigan flag was thrilling. I was proud to represent our Michigan credit unions alongside Heather and celebrate all you do in our industry. If you have never gone to the GAC, please keep it in mind for next year. MCUL has scholarships available, and I believe everyone should go at least once!
As a state credit union trade association, our primary focus is to advocate on behalf of all credit unions in Michigan. We take our mission, to support and protect the cooperative credit union movement in Michigan, very seriously and advocacy runs through every division and every member of our team.
That is why, when preparing to Hike the Hill in Washington as part of the CUNA GAC, we spend a lot of time preparing and researching the most important issues affecting credit unions today and in the future. Our team burns the midnight oil scheduling visits with our congressional delegation. These visits are moving targets as schedules are constantly changing. We also, along with CUNA, develop issue briefs so our Michigan attendees are prepared to discuss what we care about as credit unions with our Michigan delegation. But it is not all work! We plan receptions and make social time to gather and network. This year, we will be toasting to a long-awaited return to the Hill since visits were canceled during the pandemic.
One thing the pandemic taught us, was the value of virtual advocacy. More credit union leaders were able to engage with our PAC Trustees, meet with our Forum reps and talk state and federal issues with our committees. Virtual visits with our delegation have also been successful. With the positive results we've seen, all these efforts will continue to, on occasion, be virtual.
But, there is nothing like going to DC to network and meet up to 5,000 credit union advocates. I am looking forward, even more so this year given our pandemic separation, to donning my PAC lapel pin and reminding lawmakers who we are, what we do, and why our cooperative spirit, and structure, must be preserved.
Thank you for all you do to support advocacy, through your fundraising, visit participation, lawmaker meetings, story sharing and hiking the hill!
I thought it was a great month – being Black History Month – to announce that MCUL is sponsoring a mentoring program to take place early Spring. This engagement will pair 10 Michigan credit union industry professionals with 10 up-and-coming African American credit union team members for six weeks of mentorship. Our mentors have been selected and are excited to begin.
I took part in this same program, which was sponsored by the Montana Credit Union League, and have been so inspired meeting with my mentee – a branch manager from Schools First Credit Union in California.
We are excited to bring this opportunity to Michigan and work with Shellee Mitchell who will manage the program. Ms. Mitchell started Sapphire Dimension, which focuses on the development of African American females’ professional, educational and economic development. Her vision is “[f]or African American females to live in economic empowerment; the financial abundance of their education and skill; with fulfillment in their personal lives and contribution to humanity.” MCUL is proud to support Ms. Mitchell’s business and bring her vision to our Michigan credit union community.
When I was asked to become a mentor to a young, African American professional, I did not really think I had that much to offer. I knew that my experience in the workforce, while similar as we are both women, was vastly different than that of an African American. I knew that my mentee would have to work even harder than I did to make it.
As part of the 1-to-1 Mentoring Program, as Shellee calls it, she provides both mentors and mentees with a copy of The Memo – What Women of Color Need to Know to Secure a Seat at the Table by Minda Harts. I found this book so enlightening and, at times, hard to read. It goes into detail on what women of color experience in the work force and what holds them back. My mentee and I read it together and it generated powerful discussions.
I encourage you to get a copy. I am not proud to say that this was my first leadership book written by an African American woman, but it will not be my last.
I hope you are finding a way to contribute this month to honor the Black history that has been overlooked and, sometimes, forgotten or ignored.
Hitting the Ground Running
We are well underway at the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL) implementing our strategy for 2022. Currently, we are gearing up for the CUNA GAC. While visits with lawmakers may look a bit different with Covid restrictions, we are excited that over 100 credit union professionals are attending with us. With it being a big election year in Michigan at the state level as well as the federal districts changing, our advocacy team and PAC Trustees are very busy. We appreciate your engagement and sharing your credit union stories with our lawmakers.
During our January industry call, we spent some time discussing overdraft programs and what our Michigan credit unions are considering with their programs. Some shared that they are decreasing their fees and considering alternative income sources. We have assembled an overdraft task force to dig into issues and report to our industry on the findings. More to come in the months ahead.
This month, I had the privilege of sitting down with One Detroit Credit Union CEO, Hank Hubbard, to discuss his years with the credit union and engaging in our industry. Hank has a lot of insights to offer with his years of experience in overseeing a credit union under $100 million in assets as well as becoming one of the first CDFI credit unions in Michigan. Check out the Credit Union, Coffee and Conversation episode and enjoy.
We have all learned over the last couple of years, many of you well before then, the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Some credit unions are fortunate enough to have the means to hire employees who oversee DEI efforts as their sole role at the organization, while most do what they can to incorporate the principles of hiring and supporting a diverse team.
I recently had the pleasure of being asked to participate in a mentoring program that partners women executives with up-and-coming female minority credit union employees. The program is called “1to1Woman” and was initiated by the fabulous Shellee Mitchell of Sapphire Dimension, LLC. As part of the program, Mitchell provided mentors with a copy of the book The Memo by Minda Harts.
I am embarrassed to admit that The Memo is the first executive leadership style book that I have read from the perspective of an African American woman. I suppose if I had seen the book on the shelf that, on its cover, purports to tell women of color what they need to know to secure a seat at the table, as a white woman, I may have not picked it up. That would have been my mistake. Not only is the book helpful to women of color in developing their career, it offers a lot of insight into what their experience is like, which can, in turn, really help all of us understand hurdles or barriers that we may not have faced in our own careers.
Reading The Memo and working with my amazing “mentee,” who has likely taught me more than I have taught her, has confirmed for me that I have a lot of work to do on the inclusion part of DEI. Part of the book talks about what happens “After 6” and the social part of the workplace where people gather for cocktails and after hour events. The author recounts that countless women of color she has talked to just want to do their jobs and go home. Harts encourages women readers to put themselves out there and interact and get to know their white colleagues in a casual setting. In talking with my mentee, she confirmed also that social situations outside of the office were a challenge for her.
We know that in our industry, sans a pandemic, social time happens on a regular basis! As a former credit union vendor, I know all about the after conference social time. After reading The Memo and engaging with my mentee, I will look at these events differently going forward. Not only will I observe who is at the social events, but I will also consider who is not, and what I can do to try and encourage people of color to attend. This is a reminder to me, a reinforcement to focus on inclusion. The “I” in DEI takes more time and thoughtfulness than the other efforts. Focusing on what we can do to encourage people of color to network and engage after hours is one small part. To really get to know our teams and make sure they are all included is something we should all be striving for.
I still have so much to learn in this space. But learning is a lifelong pursuit. It is not just reading a book or putting out a statement about commitment to DEI. I do not claim in any fashion to be a leader in this space and know that I can do much more. But I can say that I am committed to not letting the topic of DEI fade into the background. I encourage you to pick up a copy of The Memo and share it with your team. I know my mentee really found a lot of value in the book as she is navigating her career in our industry as a woman of color. If you are still looking for a New Year’s resolution, maybe this article can help.
January 2022 - Originally published on CUInsight.comGo to main navigation