The P.A.

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

SLCCU Is Bucking The System In More Ways Than One

On April 11th, 2011, posted in: Uncategorized by

I like paradoxical thought.  Bucking the system is another way of saying it.  So is going against conventional wisdom.  I like it “when pigs fly,” and I am very intrigued by the prospects of “hell freezing over” – sounds good to me!

Sometimes being counter-intuitive serves as the fulcrum that catapults an idea that is considered to be “a little bit weird” into the next great thing.  Jerry Seinfeld had a “show about nothing” and, as a result, had one of the greatest sitcoms ever.

Being intentionally antithetic is worth the inquisitive looks that accompany going against the grain. As an example, St. Louis Community Credit Union only charges $15 per item for overdraft protection.  The market says that we should be charging somewhere around $30 per item.  Everybody tells us we should “jack-up” the price (after all, they did). We’re just crazy enough to say “no” to such gluttonous behavior.  We’re in the business to make our members’ lives better, not worse.  Makes you wonder what’s motivating everybody else’s thinking?

When the economy went south like a trip to Key West, the Credit Union could have done a couple of things.  One choice was to draw our heads in like a scared turtle. Be safe and sit tight is the normative behavior for the times.  We, on the other hand, set out to help our members.  Sitting on a pile of cash waiting for the equivalent of economic “sunshine and lollipops” wasn’t going to help our members. We decided to go in the other direction – the opposite direction – and invest in our members.  We figured they needed us.  And here’s a “bassackwards” thought: they would respond in kind by using us more.  I’ll be darned – that’s exactly what they did.

Check this out… During these ugly times, St. Louis Community Credit Union has grown with thousands of new members; tens of millions in deposits (over $60 million to be exact); and monthly direct deposit and checking accounts are skyrocketing.  Wait a second… I thought our country was in the worst recession in the history of our country?

I’ll tell you what happened.  We followed the path less travelled and, as a result, we benefited far and away more than our credit union movement as a whole.  The aforementioned numbers are over-the-top successful compared to most credit unions.

We increased our marketing budget; most businesses cut theirs.  We invested more in the professional development of our staff; most businesses viewed training as a luxury and gave it the ol’ heave-ho.  We paid some of the highest rates while most were cutting theirs.  While many financial institutions focused on profits, period, we focused on “good profits.”  The difference between profits and “good profits” is about as far apart as lightning and a lightning bug.

We take a different approach.  Let’s just say opposites attract.  We did things the opposite and attracted a lot of new members because of it.

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