The P.A.

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

When It Comes To Grappling With Fees, Count Us Out!

On August 16th, 2010, posted in: Uncategorized by

Credit unions got some press a week ago Friday.  As the smallest participant in the financial services world, we get a proportionate amount of media attention.  It is shameful that we get so little coverage, but good news isn’t usually a story.  Remember the media adage: “if it bleeds, it leads.”  We don’t bleed.  In fact, we’re exactly what you want from your financial institution.  We’re boring.  Last thing you want from the guys and gals managing your money is drama.  Next to the last thing is raising fees.

Though, I must say, if we got a greater share of the press, we’d be better known and, as a result, maybe we could go from being the best kept secret in the world of financial services to taking our rightful place at the pinnacle of consumer financial services.  Oh well, we do what we can.

The news article’s title intimated that credit unions in the St. Louis area were “grappling” with fees, just like banks.  Huh?  The use of the root word “grapple” is an intimation that credit union leadership is struggling as to whether or not the raising of fees would be appropriate.  Interestingly, the body of the article did not contain the word “fee” (not a single mention).  So, as a result, I’m confused.  The poorly crafted headline aside, let me assure you that THIS CREDIT UNION is not “grappling” with whether or not to raise fees.  I can’t speak for all credit unions, but St. Louis Community Credit Union knows what’s going on in our members’ lives, and the last thing they need right now is for us to pile on with more fees during a time when they are struggling with their finances.

Never say never, but not now on the whole fee thing.  The timing could not be worse for raising fees.  Yet, that is what many in the financial services world are doing – raising fees.  Not SLCCU!  Our Credit Union is about increasing people’s standard of living and bettering their lifestyle.  We remain principle driven and committed to this value.  Our compass is pointing due north; no wavering.  We think of our members first.  Everything else is a by-product of first determining what is best for our membership.  And right now, fees aren’t it!

Our leadership team discusses gaining operating efficiency.  We discuss developing new products.  We discuss (niche) markets and what kind of value we can bring to serve them.  And we discuss eliminating things we do that no longer bring value to our members.  But, raising fees?  Nope.  Not now.

Well, everybody else is doing it.  I guess if everybody else jumped off a bridge, we’d do it too. Nope!  We will not follow suit.  While the financial services community works diligently to see that the self-fulfilling prophecy of “the death of free checking” comes to pass, we are focused on trying to make something “more than free.”  Okay, maybe I’m getting a little carried away, but just know that our members’ best interests are first and foremost our focus; not padding the bottom-line.

Grapple with fees? We don’t grapple.

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