Times are tough. We’re all experiencing the tensions of increased regulatory burdens, investing enough money in the products and services that will keep our members loyal and attract our future members, and finding the talent we need to keep things going. It’s not easy, and it’s only going to get more complicated. Layer on the COVID-19 crisis, and it’s almost too much to manage. Economists are saying that loan volumes - the lifeblood of our existence - will decline this year. Experts project loan delinquencies and expenses will go up while fee income and ROA will fall.
Certainly, this could be one of the most challenging years many of us have ever seen. How can we lessen the blow and find ways to survive, if not thrive, in this environment? Well, we believe it goes back to what has made us strong from the start: collaboration and belief in the cooperative spirit that we, as credit unions, were founded on. Rather than trying to go-it-alone, let’s leverage the best of what we have and share it. Don’t give up when we can succeed together.
Every credit union has nearly the same core functions—things we must do to be a “viable business. That includes accounting and finance, back-office operations, human resources and administration, marketing, and information systems and technology. None of these functions necessarily provide a competitive advantage; they are “table stakes”. So, rather than recruiting, training, and building expensive teams around them, why not cooperate and leverage them as a “pooled” resource? That way, multiple credit unions can economize and still have access to highly talented, specialized people without the need to duplicate them independently. Through a cooperative framework, we get the best of both worlds. We share the expense for these functions and save precious dollars that are better spent on the products and services that members want and need the most. By partnering on core business functions, you can focus on what makes you special and what you do best.
We believe there’s a better way! That’s why we established Exclamation Services nearly two years ago. Today we are helping credit unions manage many of their core business functions, economically and efficiently. We hire the most talented specialists and provide their expertise to credit unions like yours at a fraction of the cost that you’d spend to keep them on your own payroll. That’s the spirit of the cooperative model. We’re a CUSO—Credit Union Service Organization—explicitly designed by a credit union to serve credit unions. We offer the core services you need in the areas of IT, Marketing, HR, and Operations. Working together, we can be stronger, smarter, and more sophisticated. If you think we might be of service, please reach out. We’ll be happy to discuss ways we can help you continue to grow in these uncertain times.
About the Author: Alan Bergstrom is a dedicated needle-mover. In everything he does —from his early career as an Air Force officer, to advising Fortune 500 companies, to his most recent position as CEO of Exclamation Services — he makes a meaningful and measurable impact on the performance of people and businesses.