How CUs Can Make Financial Crisis The Movement's Finest Hour

In a time when the financial world is changing-bank failures on top of a mortgage industry crisis, government interventions, and the credit crunch-I begin to wonder, could this be our finest hour?

It seems like this is the perfect opportunity to talk to members about how credit unions can be the safe harbor from the rest of the uncertain financial world. Here are some talking points we're using with our members:

The Cooperative Principle Protects You: Putting your money into the credit union makes you the owner. And as with any business, we make decisions for the best interest of the owners. Now, for-profit institutions also make decisions for the best interest of the owners, but that's probably not you. This cooperative principle protects you by ensuring that we make the best decisions for you and your money.

No Corporate Jets: You won't see our executives flying in corporate jets. And actually we operate with a fairly conservative and well-positioned budget. This budget is reviewed each month with our board of directors, which is a group of volunteers elected by you. They make sure we are fiscally responsible so that we can return the most money back to our member-owners in the form of dividends. Now, if you want to take that money and buy a jet for yourself, that's up to you. I hear there is one for sale on eBay.

Your Funds are Federally Insured: You may have wondered why "Federal" is our middle name. It's a great reminder that we are federally insured and backed by the full-faith of the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF). In fact, no one has ever lost a single penny in a federally insured CU.

We Save For Rainy Days Too: Over the years, we've squirreled away enough to help us weather the ups and downs of the economy. This allows us to offer great rates even in less certain financial times.

Strategic Asset/Liability Management: That's a mouthful that means that we constantly evaluate and measure our financial health. It keeps us in constant balance between risk and exposure to risk.

Consistent and Confident Pricing: We hold weekly to make sure we offer fair and competitive loan and deposit rates. In fact, the rates offered to our members are calculated to provide the credit union safety and maintain financial strength. We won't jeopardize our financial health to be the highest or lowest, but rather consistently offer fair prices so our membership can feel confident they will get a great deal everyday.

We're Not for Profit: Our not-for-profit status ensures that your elected and appointed officials take their positions seriously and stay accountable to you. It keeps us honest and focused on our strategic vision.

Kelley Parks is VP of Marketing & Business Development at Call FCU, Richmond, Va., and can be reached at kparks@callfcu.org.