Friday, May 9, 2008

Mis-quotes, status-quos, and mentors...

I apologize for the length, I had several thoughts to share...

Two days ago, I found out that my interview with the CU times, turned into an article. Awesome!! Unfortunately, the quote of the day, wasn't a quote after all.

George Hofheimer pulled together three "Gen Yers" to help him present on Credit Union 2.0 at the TCUL annual meeting this past month. Amy Stanton, AVP/Marketing from Connex CU, Trey Reeme, Director of Channel Integration from TDECU, and myself co-presented and fielded questions from a group largely full of Boomers and Baby Boomers. The presentation was great, we had some awesome questions, and we were able to answer a few questions about "our" generation.

Evidently we made enough waves that we got the attention of the CU times. The article "Generation Y breaks the news to Texas CU and League Executives: 'You're Boring' " made a few shock waves. Not the boring part, but instead the misquote:

Reeme, the former executive vice president of Trabian, a Plano, Tex., marketing agency, also suggested that those 60-plus-year-old directors looking at the industry’s future should seriously consider stepping down to make way for a generation more connected to new technology.

Why is Trey thoughts not in quotation marks you might ask? Well, he didn't say it. When I saw that Trey said the CU industry is boring, I thought well, yea, you might be able to say that. But to suggest that all 60+ Board members should step down. Well, that one threw me for a loop. At the presentation Trey had several of his own CU's 60+ Board members present. And that wasn't the message at all.

So after you read the article. What does it come down to? Here are my thoughts on this issue, straight from my keyboard to your computer screen. I only have one issue with how most Boards are ran in the CU industry. And like Trey I don't suggest that the majority of CU board members (which are likely 60+) can't run a CU that successfully attracts and meets the needs of Gen Y.

1. Credit Union boards are comprised of volunteer individuals that are elected to represent the CU membership and their purpose is to set and reassess the direction of their CU.

My issue: The Board is very often elected by acclamation, because all positions run unopposed. The Nominating and Election Committee for the board, will do what they are comfortable with. If a board member is up for reelection, they renominate them. In the event that a Board member retires, resigns, or dies, the Nominating and Election Committee, will elect one of their own to replace them. Therefore, no "new blood" ever can get in. But with all that being said, how can I expect the N&E committee to go looking for 30 year olds that are qualified to get on the Board AND actually want to sit through a board meeting. The challenge is there.

How can we resolve it: I am not sure I have the magic suggestion to change it. Lets say, I left TFCU for a job outside the industry (won't happen.) I would immediately pursue a nomination and election to the Board. First, with my application, would the N&E committee nominate me. Not likely if one of their own is up for re-election. Second, I would need to get 500 signatures (varies based on CU bylaws) on my petition for nomination (I could pull this off.) Third, looking at the voting members present at the meeting, who would vote for me over a renominated member. All that being said, my quote in the article is right on:

“Look, my whole family life has been about my credit unions, my mom works in one, but I also see how difficult change is in credit unions,” said Sugg who said he would “absolutely love to be on a credit union board” though he knows that may not happen soon based on CU governance. (I should mention that the quote is pretty accurate, but I never start a sentence with "look")

I am also contributed with:

Sugg of Tinker said he too agreed with Reeme’s general assessment, but he said the “status quo and atmosphere” problems emanate from aging boards. “How can you justify attracting a young membership when you have board members all over 60?” asked Sugg.

As I told the reporter after he asked for my response to Trey saying the industry is "boring," I said that "I wouldn't say that it is boring, but I would say that we don't like to challenge the status-quo, as it is something that we are comfortable with." The vast majority of all corporations and Financial Institutions maintain "older" boards. They attract young people all the time. Getting a voice and an understanding on the board of who our Generation is the important part, replacing them isn't justifiable. Change is difficult and slow. Gen Y is definitely difficult, but we change (for the better) on the fly.

Does your CU board represent your membership base? It goes back to what CU's were founded on. The founders challenged the status-quo and made something better. To make something stronger the best thing to do is challenge it. To make the board even stronger challenge it. If the members remain the same, great, if they are challenged than that means the right people are there.

I recently talked at our local chapter meeting in March. My main topics was that I hope that all of those 60+ somethings that are getting close to retiring, make a huge effort to pass on all of their experience and knowledge to the younger generations. Young managers and leaders like myself didn't get to experience the last 30-40 years on the CU movement, we can't read about it in history books, we need to learn about it from today's leaders so that we can be better leaders, tomorrow. Our Board and leadership is the best resource to future leaders for learning and growth. As we develop learning the past experiences is an important part in creating the future.

Learn from the past, experience in the present, grow for the future!!

Disclaimer: This post is reflective of my thoughts and concerns. It doesn't reflect the thoughts, opinions, or ideals of The Filene Research Institute or Tinker Federal Credit Union or any of their employees or representatives (other then me of course.)

1 comment:

Trey Reeme said...

Loved this post, Kent! Thanks for getting my back and for explaining your thoughts, too. Sounds like the story didn't reflect what really happened in the room. Funny since the reporter wasn't there, isn't it?! ;)