The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

At SLCCU, “Poor” Really Means “Smart”

On August 8th, 2011, posted in: Uncategorized by

Somebody recently referred to St. Louis Community Credit Union as the “Poor Man’s Bank.”  When it happened, one of our Credit Union employees was in a grocery store check-out lane.  She was ready to swipe her debit card for payment when out of left field the comment hit its mark.  See, the cashier noticed our logo on the card and this prompted his comment.  Upon my learning of this descriptor and every minute thereafter, I have contemplated was this a “dis” or was this a compliment?  What’s this new designation mean, if anything?

If by “poor man,” the cashier means “value,” then I guess we’re guilty as charged.  If, by his comment, he is referring to there being no need to carry a minimum balance in a checking account, then guilty we are.  We’re guilty if “poor man” means low fees.  Likewise, if we’re considered the “poor man’s bank” because we have great loan rates, small loans and a willingness to help people borrow money who have struggled in the past, then color us guilty.  Maybe he was talking about our willingness to open a CD for as little as $300.  Whatever, I’m hearing “value” not “poor.”   

What in the heck does “poor man’s bank” mean?  So far all I’ve described is the “smart man.”  Smart people drive a beat-up, older pick-up truck “just a little longer” because of their desire for value.  “Poor man” – I think not.  Seeking value might better describe one’s motives.  Austere money management allowed many a person to become the millionaire next door.  And like them or not, millionaires are knighted as such because of their smart money management.  Think plain label vs. brand; think TJMaxx vs. Nordstrom’s; think Aldi’s vs. just about every other grocery store in town.

Whether you are scrambling to stretch $50 or you are moving around $50,000, SLCCU is a great deal.  In the case of SLCCU, the word “poor” may be some sort of synonym for “brilliant.”  We invite everyone to consider our products and services, whatever the economic class distinction one chooses to label us.  SLCCU is about VALUE.  There are those in our membership who are destined for riches.  They are busy right now filling up their personal cookie jar because they chose St. Louis Community Credit Union.

We’re flattered.  Better yet, we are honored to be known as the “poor man’s” choice.  By default, I guess every other financial institution must be the “rich man’s?”  Well, OK…if people are insistent on labels, we’ll error on the side of helping people in need – makes you sleep better.

In a world where headline inflation outpaces wage increases, investment rates are somewhere just a smidge north of zero, housing values are in a depressing free fall, and way too many people can’t land a job, St. Louis Community Credit Union provides a sound alternative to the big name banks.  Thank God for an alternative.

St. Louis Community Credit Union exists only to increase people’s standard of living and better their lifestyle.  If by doing so we are perceived as the “poor man’s bank,” then so be it.  We would rather be known as “the social conscience of banking.”  Maybe that’s what he meant to say.

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