All credit unions should…

Change “Credit Union” to “Cooperative Bank.”

There, I said it.

22 responses to “All credit unions should…”

  1. Yay!!!!!! Count me in solidarity as a like-mined subversive.

    Henceforth and forever more, in all situations, let spades be referred to by all as spades!

    Also, if possible, I pledge to immediately join the first CU to become a CB.

  2. Sorry – meant “minded.” Damn fingers.

  3. Trey,

    Interesting. At the moment, I’m not sure I agree, but the idea may grow on me. Do you think this will make the converation about the _difference_ easier to understand?


  4. Trey, I don’t know if these exist throughout the country, but up here in New England, we already have Cooperative Banks. They are not the same as CUs; the are regulated by the FDIC. (That might be about the only perceivable difference.)

    Here’s one that’s just up the highway from me:

  5. Interestingly, I have no stance on this. My immediate reaction was, “Trey, you’ve lost it!” Then I thought, “Maybe he has a point.”

    Like Otto, though, I’m not sure a new name will make up for our industry’s miserable failure in communicating, and manifesting, the credit union difference. Credit Union or Cooperative Bank, we still have work to do on the education/communications front.

  6. We sometime refer to ourselves as a financial co-operative. How’s that?

  7. @ William Azaroff – While I was the marketing & communications director at Great Wisconsin CU, I worked tirelessly to refer to the credit union as “a financial cooperative” rather than as a ‘not-for-profit financial institution” as was favored by some of the senior team.

    My logic was that when an average person hears about a not-for-profit entity, he or she envisions United Way or the local humane society or some other charitable organization. And as wonderful and desirable as those institutions are, it’s not the association I wanted people to have with my CU.

    That’s a very long way of saying that I agree with your point about referring to CUs as financial cooperatives. And that’s also why I think it’s cool that Trey verbalized the next step, “cooperative bank.”

    I just think it’d be easier for average consumers to appreciate and understand the difference if we were able to use the word “bank” as part of the short definition.

  8. I agree with you Trey. The term credit union sucks (there I said it).

    Cooperative Bank says what it is that credit unions do. Everyone understands what a bank is and everyone understands what cooperation means. The difference that we all so dearly want to communicate is right there in two words.

    What does credit mean? Do I have to be in a union to be a member?

    I miss Trey’s 15 word or less posts! Nice job.

  9. I don’t think we have to change what we’re called. I mean whether I’m called Dan, Danny, Daniel, Mr. Veasey, or even David(my brother’s name) I’m still me. People know who I am and what I’m about by observing what I do What I do might, however, affect what people call me. (Either good man, liar, cheat, thief, SOB, brilliant, humble, terrific, radiant, some pig…)

    CU’s should worry more aligning their actions & policies with their vision & calling rather than worrying about their name.

  10. @Bruce: Hear, hear. I wrote this post because when I tell non-CU industry folk that I work for a credit union, I get looks of empathy. I then explain, what we do is basically that we’re a cooperative bank.

    @Otto: For a long time, I’d explain credit unions as “like a bank BUT we’re owned by our members.” Now, I get more lightbulbs going off by explaining a credit union as “we’re a bank that’s owned by our members.”

    @Morriss: That’s a great point – I’d heard of the existence of cooperative banks in the US and I have no idea of the distinction in their charters with what we do. While I know no CU will make an attempt to change their name (not their structure) to “cooperative bank,” as Bruce said, it’d be nice to call a spade a spade.

    @William: I like it. It makes more sense than CU, IMHO.

    @Tim: Exactly – “credit union” requires further definition for non-CUers.

    @Dan: Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to ever happen. For me, it would be an improvement. Both the words “credit” and “union” separately carry different connotations for different people. For instance I’ve always been scared to death of credit, because my dad would say things like “don’t ruin your credit” or “don’t take that credit card” or “if you don’t have good credit you won’t be able to buy a car.”

    Of course, “bank” is a dirty word within our industry and we do everything to avoid it. And let us not forget the association of banks with recent economic turmoil. However, sometimes I feel like CUs are the ones fighting an association with the B-word the hardest — not necessarily consumers.

  11. If Bernanke and Paulson have their way with the financial regulators, credit unions will go away anyways. Then we will be a cooperative bank. Being a bank wouldn’t be that bad. We’d be on a level playing field with banks and, hopefully, still have the CU spirit.

  12. Trey I really dig you header graphic! How’d you do that?

  13. Thanks, Dan – in Photoshop CS3 Extended, I opened that pic, which my wife took of me and the baby.

    If you click on the Filter menu item, then the Artistic menu item for “Cutout” it’ll do it. I then cropped it down and switched it out with my old graphic here.

  14. @Robbie – Yep, I just wish that the term “credit union” could change without the structure having to. Ahh, unintended consequences.

  15. And changing the name would solve what problem?

  16. @rshevlin “credit union” requires further explanation for non CU members.

    I explain what we do to people who don’t know (or who have an understanding of what we offered and who we could serve pre-1980ish) as “we’re just like a bank, but we’re owned by our members.”

    Cooperative bank is more accurate than credit union.

  17. Cooperative bank is NOT more accurate than credit union. While a cooperative bank might be nearly indistinguishable from a credit union, it is an entirely different entity that plays by a different set of rules and is regulated by the FDIC, which has nothing whatsoever to do with credit unions.

    And you are making it sound like credit unions have a choice about their name. By law, credit unions must use the word “credit union” in the name, and federally-chartered credit unions must use “federal credit union” in their name.

    Diluting the distinctive credit union terminology only serves to further blur the difference between a credit union and a bank. We’re already so close to being the same, we need MORE points of differentiation, not less.

  18. Cooperative bank is NOT available. Cooperative banks were founded in the 1810s, and surprisingly, with the same mission as CUs. (Does that mean we need a new type of institution in 2010? The cycle of history repeats itself…)

    Anyway, check out the wikipedia entries Cooperative banking and Mutual savings bank.

  19. @mmpartee: I don’t believe any CU will actually attempt it (even if regulatory hurdles didn’t exist). Don’t expect mine to :) I do, however, believe it’s more descriptive of what we do than “credit union.”

  20. Hmmm. Interesting. Then why didn’t actual cooperative banks take off the way credit unions did/have? Was there an advantage because of their name? I guess not. :) Or did they have the perfect name, and haven’t succeeded more than they have for other non-name-related issues? I have no idea, I’m just raising the questions.

    I wonder what the whole picture of cooperative/mutual banks is in the U.S. I wonder how many there are, where they are located, and total customers/assets they have.

    So if there aren’t too many of them, we should lobby congress to have them join the CU-fold, then we can all just switch over to the Cooperative Bank name?

    I guess my point is this: It doesn’t really matter if credit unions ought to be called cooperative banks. Someone beat us to that name by a hundred years.

    And perhaps it’s precisely BECAUSE we don’t have “bank” in our name that we’ve succeeded as much as we have. The fact that we don’t have bank in our name reinforces that we are an alternative to profit-driven banks.

  21. Morris I love your CU idealism. Maybe it was the timing in history when CU’s came into existence that lead to their ascension. If that’s true then timing may very well one day lead to their demise. I’m not much of a history buff, anyone know what was going on economically in the 1810’s?

    How about “Money Clubs”? We could think up all kinds of golf promos to go with that. Or what about “Beat the Banks with a Money Club!” with a picture of a beaten up banker running from a gang of credit union savers. I hope that doesn’t get me sued. (If any bankers read this, my comment is meant in all good humor. Feel free to poke back.)

  22. I guess I come down on the Financial Cooperative side of the street. I think cooperative bank sounds like an oxy moron, especially if you were ever a victim…er, customer of Wells Fargo.

    There is nothing cooperative about a bank or my experience with a bank.

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