What will it take for small credit unions to survive?
Successful credit unions of all sizes do two things.
First, when problems arise, they don't blame circumstances, the economy, or the billion-dollar credit union that moved in down the street. They look internally to find areas they can improve. They find and use talent within their organization that may have been overlooked in the past. They examine assumptions that may no longer be valid, changing whatever needs to be changed. They look outside their organization to find best practices they can learn from and make that part of their organization. And whenever they catch themselves whining, they stop it!
The second thing successful credit unions do is take risks. Credit unions are in a risk-taking business, and those that are not comfortable or successful at assessing and taking risks should rightly be merged.
Some credit unions have had a strong sponsor in the past that has provided direct access to a ready supply of members and may have sheltered them from some of the business necessities of operational efficiencies. They have been protected from many of the risks inherent in the market. As the market changes and SEG sponsorships wane, these credit unions find themselves unaccustomed to the demands of direct competition.
Credit unions that blame others for their problems do not face an uncertain future-their eventual dissolution is assured. The only questions that remain are when the merger will happen, and which successful credit union will acquire them.
Ken Payne, President/CEO
Freedom Credit Union, Provo, Utah, $17 million in assets