Credit Unions as diamonds in the rough

Over on the Filene blog, Ben Rogers (who is heading what could be a really cool project focused on credit unions and young adults) gives an interesting take on credit unions. I’ll post his full quote for context, but I find his first sentence most intriguing:

“Credit unions are a diamond in the rough. As a young American, I never would have found them or understood them if not for my work at The CEO Report. There are millions of young Americans in the same boat. It is my sincere hope that this project will go a long way to test new models and ideas for credit unions to become more relevant not only to young consumers, but also as an employment option for talented, young professionals and perhaps the introduction of young professionals onto credit union boards.”

I actually think ‘diamond in the rough’ is a good way to describe credit unions. (Though the deep cynic inside me wants to push it closer towards ‘pressurized coal’, I’ll run with the ‘diamond’ reference for now.)

So while most cu blogs would talk about the ‘diamond’ piece of the analogy, let’s take a look at the ‘rough’.

Obscured from plain sight

A diamond in the rough is hidden from plain view, flying under the radar, undistinguished from its surroundings. I feel the same can be said about credit unions in the context of the financial landscape that a consumer sees. Is there anything that helps me know whether a building is a bank or a credit union? Inside or out?

Uncut and Unpolished

Not that the people or the efforts of individual credit unions are, but as a whole there is a refining process that I believe credit unions are in the middle of. That means some are not going to make the cut, but the ones that do will be something to look at.

Ok I’ve taken the analogy about as far as I can. I’d love to hear your thoughts…


4 comments so far

  1. Doug True on

    I agree with your assessment. Ben Rogers is a fantastic addition to an already stellar lineup at Filene. Ben will get relevant research and findings to credit unions. Then it is up to credit unions to mold it best to serve their membership.

  2. Ben Rogers on

    Thanks for the tentative vote of confidence, CU Skeptic. From the beginning I told George Hofheimer at Filene that this project is about equal parts daunting and exciting. Daunting because this outsider is looking in, seeing a great world with great people and good products but with only faint recognition among my peers. Exciting because that makes for a beautiful challenge.

    The program is open source. Before long, we’ll be posting ideas and asking for reactions, suggestions, improvements and perspective. Give us a chance, but don’t pull any punches.

  3. CU Skeptic on


    Thanks for stopping by and sharing more about your attitudes towards this project. I’m very excited that you’ve chosen to open it up to the community and look forward to see what comes down the pipeline.

    (Don’t worry, I won’t pull any punches…and I’ll try to keep it all above the belt!)

  4. Mike Templeton on

    I can follow this analogy very well. For me, as a 20-something college graduate, no one has educated me on what CUs are or what they can do for me. I know about banks due to all the advertising and marketing that goes on, plus the banks have the mainstream financial market. When I think about CUs, all I know is that my parents use one and that it was only for employees at where they worked (their CU has since expanded its membership to the entire county).

    Working for a CUSO, I am learning more and more about CUs everyday. Though they may not be as shiny and good-looking as the banking giants, they have caught my eye. With only a little more polishing I might be persuaded to leave my bank of 4 years altogether…

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