Think your story doesn’t affect your bottom line?

If you think your story doesn’t affect your bottom line, think again. It’s one thing to feel intuitively that your story is important, it’s quite another to have proof. And I’d like to share some proof, to the tune of $600,000.

I recently had a chance to visit and have lunch with Jon Reske, VP of Marketing of UMassFive College Federal Credit Union. UMassFive has just opened a new branch in Northampton, MA, and it is quite nice. Jon told me that many features of their new branch were inspired by what he learned and experienced at the Triple-B Portland in 2005, particularly by what he learned from Umpqua Bank. It’s quite warm and welcoming, and if you are ever in Western Mass, I would urge you to check it out.

While there, Jon showed me their new member brochure, and the items which are covered when a person signs up as a new member of the credit union. The very first item covered is the credit union’s story; what a credit union is; and how the cooperative nature of the financial institution works.

Just a few weeks ago, a couple came into the credit union to open a new account, and a CU employee explained what the credit union was all about. The next day, the couple came back with a check for $500,000 and deposited it into their new money market account. The employee who opened the account with them the day before was quite happy, and asked them how this deposit came to be. It turns out that the couple was looking for a place to deposit this money, and when they learned about the cooperative, not-for-profit nature of the credit union, and what it stood for, and the fact that their money would stay local, they decided to deposit their money with UMassFive. Later in the week, the couple returned with an additional $100,000 deposit. The couple was also referred to the Financial Planning division of the credit union. Both the couple and the credit union are exceedingly happy.

So start with step one: If you are a credit union, TELL YOUR STORY. Don’t let anyone tell you that your story doesn’t matter, that no one cares. Your story matters. Period.


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3 Responses to “Think your story doesn’t affect your bottom line?”

  1. Ginny Brady Says:

    Morriss, Great post! I would go even further – for most credit unions the global cu story is also part of the unique story of each, individual, credit union. For example, UFirst is designing a history wall in our lobby. This exhibit will include the briefcase used by our first manager. She actually operated the credit union out of this briefcase upon start up. I think these personal stories are also important.

  2. Morriss Partee Says:

    Hi Ginny, I agree! My post was already long, so I didn’t go further… but an idea that I got from Matt Taggart, EverythingCU’s COO, is that every credit union employee ought to know: What a credit union is, what the credit union movement as a whole is all about, and how their specific credit union fits into the credit union movement. We usually find that many employees don’t even know what a credit union really is, nevermind any of the rest of it. 🙂

    The history is very important, and what is equally important is how the credit union lives that story today; and what it means to the member.

    I am continually fascinated by CU founding stories. They are always truly amazing. Many CUs, especially in New York, were founded despite huge barriers, and Dora Maxwell’s courage is a story that needs to be shared throughout the movement!!!! One of the best founding stories I have EVER heard comes from what is now known as ValleyStone CU in Wilbraham, MA, and I hope I can get a copy of it and disseminate it. Truly inspiring.

  3. tinfoiling Says:

    Someone should start a site of just these types of stories from CUs. Some are pretty touching to say the least. I remember years ago a woman with 4 children having a loan that she suddenly became responsible for. Her husband left her and she was just making due. She was at the counter one day and I asked her how things were going. You could see times were difficult. Then she said ” I don’t want to get behind on the loan so we have cut back at home”. I asked in what areas and she started mentioning things that were essential for her family, like food. I took her into my office and said that the CU would work with her but she had to make sure she took care of her family first. We worked out a plan which she was happy with. That women always thanked us for helping her. She paid the loan as agreed. We would have lent her money anytime without question. You don’t always meet people like that.

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