Call for Entries for CU Journal's Best Practices (& More)

Credit union best practices in 2009? Some credit union leaders might respond by saying it's enough just to keep the doors open and the lights on this year.

But hunkering down is seldom a Best Practice worth sharing, and besides, in the fog of all the economic reports and graphs headed in the wrong direction there are credit unions not just competing but excelling and prospering and positioning themselves for more growth in 2010 (and doing quite well this year, it should be noted).

As we state proudly on page 1 of every issue, Credit Union Journal's editorial coverage is for growth-oriented credit unions. We're similarly proud to announce our Call for Entries for Best Practices 2009.

As our recent Grow Show exhibited, the Journal and cujournal.com have placed significant editorial emphasis in recent years on helping credit unions to be vibrant, prospering operations even in the midst of some fundamental shifts in the competitive landscape. It's what decision-makers and CU leaders have consistently asked for, and we've sought to deliver.

Now it's your turn, and we've made it easy to feature a Best Practice your credit union has developed or implemented. We've gone to pains to make it simple to participate and have intentionally avoided creating formal categories for entry to keep from discouraging anyone from entering.

Your best practice can represent any aspect of operations. In previous years the Journal's Best Practices issue has featured everything from making it easier to fill out a 5300 Call Report to simple-but-effective ways to keep the credit union fresh in members' minds to credit card programs, online bill pay, HR policies, branch operations, mortgage lending, board practices, marketing, cost-cutting, and on and on.

We're not necessarily seeking the sophisticated as much as the pragmatic; the realistic over the idealistic. In plain English: stuff that works.

Nominations may be submitted by credit unions themselves, a CUSO, or even another credit union. Nominations can also be submitted by suppliers to the credit union community that have clients they believe exemplify the best practice in implementing a particular product or service.

The criteria are as follows:

1) Best practice must have been deployed since June 1, 2008.

2) CU (or vendor) selects (or even creates) a category and nominates itself/client CU.

3) The entry should include: 500 words or fewer on why it believes it has created a best practice within its operation. The nomination essay should include as many tangible measures as practical (including ROI where available) documenting the best practice; the background on environment prior to the implementation of the best practice; factors driving adoption of the best practice, and any new products/solutions deployed to achieve the best practice.

You may enter more than one category, and here's the part that always has great appeal, there is no charge for entries. It's free!

Nominations should be e-mailed to the Managing Editor Lisa Freeman at lfreeman@cujournal.com. You can also click on the Letters to the Editor button on www.cujournal.com and submit your Best Practice there.

Deadline for entries is June 26. Winners will be profiled in Credit Union Journal later this year.

There is still some humor to be found this year. Among a few of the observations during the Journal's recent Grow Show:

  • CUNA Mutual's Jeff Hunt noted many Baby Boomers remain relatively solid financially, "even after their 401(k)s become 201(k)s."
  • DFCU Financial CU CEO Mark Shobe, who noted he now runs the same institution from which he got his first loan, pointed out that when it comes to capital levels, "If you're not hitting the 7% bogey you have extra friends in your board room every month." Later he noted that DFCU pays a minimum $50 bonus dividend annually, even to kids who have just $100 on deposit. "I tell them if you can duplicate that your whole life you're good to go."
  • Observed Joe Saari, CEO of Precision Information, a provider of financial education content: "People have a hard time separating escrow from escargot."

  • Hope you're sitting as you read this. One recent study has discovered that "people are using less cash." Of those who reduced their cash use, "97% are shifting to credit, debit or gift/prepaid cards instead," according to Ajay Nagarkatte, managing director of BAI Research. Apparently the other 3% have turned to barter and animal pelts.  


  • At a recent meeting I heard someone mistakenly say "Prayday lending," before correcting themselves. I think they had it right the first time.  

    Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann@cujournal.com.