Information Hippyism and Bank Fear

The cu blogosphere has enjoyed a long run of freely shared information and ideas. The consensus has been that the benefit of sharing outweighs the fears. I believe much credit for this atmosphere belongs to OpenSourceCU. They have been doing this for a long time and their passion for openness has noticeably influenced those who have followed their initiative.

I suppose that I have taken this environment of openness for granted. Events of this week have shown me that not everyone is on the same page.

Earlier this week, I posted a comment on the JayRay blog. (The article itself was titled “There’s a Difference?”, how could I not comment?!) A response in the thread was given with a pretty staggering stat: “Credit unions saved consumers $11 billion last year.” I thought, “Wow, that’s an interesting number. I wonder how they came up with that?”

Rather than publicly ask for the source, (aren’t 79% of all stats are made up?) I sent the respondent an email with the following text:

Thanks for the comments on my blog and the response you gave on the jayray blog. Do you mind pointing me to the source where you got that 11 billion dollars number from. I’d love to take a look at it. Thanks!

The response I received was cordial but less than forthcoming. I won’t post it here (unless the sender wants me to) but I will say that I was not given the source. I was invited to call and discuss it, and, if my intentions were not to use it to help banks, I could probably secure it.

I didn’t (and still don’t) understand the big deal about revealing information used as argument in a public forum. (I’d say if you can’t reveal a stat source, don’t use the stat.) However, calling just for the source of some stat in a random blog comment seemed a little extreme, so I just let it go. Until today.

Today I’m reading the latest article on the Currency Marketing blog and, in the context of what I experienced earlier this week, it looks like Bank Fear is sweeping across the blogosphere. I don’t fault Tim for posting what he did. In fact, the openness to post about the process is what I love about this community. However, acting out of fear is not innovative, nor is it productive.

If banks can really “topple” credit unions, shame on credit unions.

In fact, “bank attacks” should not be credit union fear #1. Irrelevance should be. Just read the original JayRay article. Melina’s experience is echoed over and over by young people that start in this industry. That’s the situation credit unions need to address, not the fear of the big bad banks trying to get the 10% market share currently occupied by credit unions.

I believe the current state of the credit union blogosphere is helping credit unions combat this public enemy #1, and I for one, would love to see it continue in this manner.


10 comments so far

  1. Ginny Brady on

    I just returned from the CUNA GAC. The emphasis of the sessions and the conference, in general, was on how to enhance the relevancy of credit unions. It’s hard to imagine coming away from this conference and not being struck with the mission of credit unions and the role credit unions have played as stable FIs for people of all ages. The GAC also highlighted pending legislation (CURRA and CURIA) designed to update regulations and improve services for the credit union industry. I had the privilege of attending the hearing of the House Financial Services Committee held on March 6th which addressed this legislation. I heard witnesses representing the ABA criticize credit unions for their success in the market place as well as raise, out of the main, stream examples of the abuses of individual credit unions to support their position that regulations for credit unions should not be updated and improved. I agree that encouraging a free exchange of information, sources and ideas for improvement is the ideal for credit union bloggers. But I also think we would be naive in thinking that there aren’t very powerful organizations who use the words and actions of a few to support their determination to stand in the way of credit union improvements. This isn’t paranoia. It’s fact that can be substantiated by looking at the home page of the ABA website and focusing dead center. I’m not placing this at the forefront of the way I blog but it sure is in my radar.

  2. rshevlin on

    Can’t wait to meet you in October. It would be an honor for me to be the one that gets to pull the paper bag off your head.

    On one point, I think you are spot on: That “irrelevance” not “bank attacks” are a much more important issue for CUs.

    However, I’m not so sure that “the current state of the credit union blogosphere is helping credit unions combat this public enemy #1”.

    At the risk of ticking off my CU-blogging friends, I think that the current state of the CU blogosphere is basically just creating a strong sense of community among CU-blogging people.

    Which I think is great. There’s nothing wrong with this “state”. But I don’t think that the CU blogosphere is making a strong contribution to CUs relevance with their members. YET.

  3. Tim McAlpine on

    Hey Skeptic, thanks for continuing the conversation here. You raise a number of good points. Especially the irrelevance point! Through this continued dialogue, I believe that we have established that you are not a covert agent of the ABA!

    @Ron – I totally agree. Not only aren’t credit union members tuned into the CU blogosphere, 99% of the credit union industry isn’t either. YET!

    And one more point. I got the Skeptic his invite to Indy. Do I at least get to keep the bag?

  4. rshevlin on

    @Tim: I think you (and your Currency colleagues) should design the bag.

  5. CU Skeptic on

    Great responses. I probably did overstate the impact of the CU blogosphere on relevance. It is very much a CU blogger to CU blogger conversation right now.

    However, I do think there is currently some level of “trickle down” conversation and innovation going on here. Many of the bloggers that make up this community are becoming more active in talking to CUs in more traditional mediums. (Speaking at conferences, featured in publications, etc.) The discussions that we have online are being carried to the mainstream through the expanded exposure of these bloggers.

    In fact, I even see the blogosphere (and now twittosphere) as online lab for ideas. People are soundboarding ideas and thoughts, refining them before they are ever presented to the mainstream.

    I’m not saying it’s the most efficient or ideal way to innovate or conversate. I really wish we had more cu execs and board members active in this space.

  6. Jamie Chase on

    The CU movement is having an open dialogue about our future. The conversation is happening internationally and in small towns with members, volunteers and credit union professionals.

    You can participate at:

    • Individual credit union supervisory, board, annual and SEG meetings
    • CUNA educational events
    • WOCCU international meetings
    • CUDE trainings
    • Filene research events
    • Credit union chapter meetings
    • and yes, it is happening online– up and to the point when you ask for information that’s not mine to share.

    I’m honored to dedicate my life in service to the credit unions; I’m not going to be irresponsible or unethical about sharing sources for research I received as a guest to the movements’ events with someone that I don’t know, hiding behind a controversial false identity. I’m very curious what response you would receive from Bill Hampel at CUNA when you request credit union research under the name, “CU Skeptic.”

    If you would like to continue gaining insight about credit unions using existing open channels, attend a meeting at your credit union or local credit union chapter. Are you a credit union volunteer? Are you even a member? We simply don’t know who you are.

    As for the dialogue that your identity creates that inherently encourages negative public comments about credit unions, a service movement under serious attack from for-profit banks, it is reckless and there are more productive ways to shape the movement. Register to become a Credit Union Development Educator, join the Filene Research Institute or run for the board of directors at your credit union.

    Any of these options would give you access to all the research you want and be a far more ethical way to obtain it than emailing good people under a false identity and then criticizing them for their concerns.

  7. Jamie Chase on

    Using Google I was able to find the research you want. Interesting where I found it though, anyone else interested in the link between ethics and paranoia?

    Review of Credit Union Tax Exemption: Hearing Before the Committee on Ways …by Committee on Ways and Means, United States, Congress, House – Business & Economics – 2006 – 222 pages

    “Serial no. 109-38.”

  8. […] under Banks Aren’t Hated, Social Responsibility, Strategic Communications   Last week the CU Skeptic’s blog post was smart. It was poignant and a reminder that innovation and serving consumers should be far more […]

  9. Credit Union Warrior on

    Not sure where the $11 billion figure came from, but the North Carolina Credit Union League hired a University of Alabama professor to study how much NC credit unions saved North Carolinians. The results were staggering. NC Credit Union saved North Carolinians over $500 million in 2006 alone. These findings, while they do not prove the $11 billion figure, make JayRay’s claims at least possible.

  10. […] hugely successful?” Posted June 6, 2008 In a post back in March, I talked about Bank Fear. Apparently it’s not just Banks that CU minds are scared of. In fact, based on what you read, […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: