It's funny how conventional wisdom isn't always that wise.
For example, conventional wisdom would suggest that someone who is already wallowing in many thousands of dollars in debt, is still looking for a job or has been at an entry-level job for less than a year and has no credit score to speak of would not be the most stellar candidate for a loan — especially a big-ticket loan, such as auto or mortgage.
Moreover, conventional wisdom says that these people are understandably wary of going further into debt and therefore don't have much of an appetite for additional loans, even if a credit union was willing to make them.
But two different studies were released recently turning that conventional wisdom on its head and suggesting that recent college graduates, previously thought to be pessimistic (bordering on despair) about how they will ever get out from under their student loans, are actually optimistic (bordering on confident) about their prospects.
Not only do they feel good about their ability to repay their student loans, they are ready and willing to take on more debt.
Of course, the fact that they feel so good about all this doesn't necessarily mean CUs should, too. But both of these studies make compelling arguments that recent college grads represent a growth market for credit unions.
It's not just the study authors who think so. Read our coverage to see what some executives had to say about this potential growth opportunity.
For another flouting of conventional wisdom, look across the pond to the recent elections in the United Kingdom. Despite a flourishing credit union movement in Ireland and other parts of Europe, England has only a small number of CUs: 362 across England, Scotland and Wales, employing about 1,500 people, according to the Association of British Credit Unions. Those 362 CUs have total assets of £1.26 billion ($1.9 billion); total loans outstanding of £718 million ($1.08-billion); and total deposits of £1.07 billion ($1.62-billion) and about 1.2 million members.
Now compare that to the American credit union community, with more than 6,000 CUs boasting 100 million members and more than $1 trillion in assets, according to CUNA.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that American CUs should be a much bigger political force compared with CUs in the U.K. And indeed, it largely is.
And yet, as our story about the recent election in the U.K. asks, when was the last time you heard an American presidential candidate so much as mention CUs during a campaign speech or public appearance? When was the last time you saw either of the major political parties include a plank about supporting credit unions in their respective platforms?
That would be never.
Not so in the U.K., where all of the major contenders for prime minister (including the winner, David Cameron) specifically talked about the importance of supporting CUs while on the campaign trail, and all of the major political parties included support for credit unions as planks in their platforms.
The thing about conventional wisdom is, it almost always makes a lot of sense, so it's easy to start making assumptions based on something that appears to be entirely rational.
But every now and again, conventional wisdom gets turned on its head.
Will you be ready?
Editor in Chief Lisa Freeman can be reached at email@example.com.