28 October 2008

Our Structure 'Tis of Thee

I reject the notion that America's greatness comes from its people alone. Don't get me wrong, our nation can boast some of the finest human beings the world has ever seen. But I believe that every country has great people. Our people simply aren't, by themselves, a competitive advantage.

We are a country rich with natural resources: vast, fertile farmland, plentiful water sources, oil, natural gas, coal, etc. But other countries certainly have their fair share of mother nature's blessings. That's not it either.

I contend that it is the United States' Constitution, our structure, that makes us truly special. It's a system that rewards hard work, protects those who can't protect themselves, and gives our citizens a voice in how we are governed. It's a structure that encourages entrepreneurship, innovation, and self actualization. It's a government that, while far from perfect, has allowed America to be one of the most prosperous, generous, and socially responsible nations this world has ever seen.

Credit Union insiders often claim that it is our people that make us special. I halfway agree. I DO think we have great people - the best employees the financial services industry has to offer, and the best group of members on the planet. But it's our structure that attracts those employees. It's the sincere belief that we are making a difference in people's lives that drives our workforce's passion. Trust me, most of us could make a lot more money in other fields. But we love what we do. We have our structure to thank for that.

It's our structure that attracts members by the millions. Our member owners like knowing they have a say in how their financial institution is run. They like knowing that our business purpose is not to take advantage of unwilling customers with high fees and unfavorable rates. Rather, credit unions' mission is simply to help members become better savers, wiser consumers, and more comfortable borrowers. We serve our communities with financial literacy education, outreach programs, and cooperative missions because our member owners demand it - not because of any associated tax implications.

See, to me it is our structure that makes credit unions special. Thankfully, it's a structure that attracts the best resources, the best people, and a better alternative to traditional banking.


dean said...

And if our fearless national and state leaders would focus their attention on the structural difference (democratically owned and operated, volunteer board) it would be so much easier to sell the lawmakers the CU difference as applies to all CU's regardless of size.

Well played Warrior, keep it up an the Ultimate Warrior title can't be far off!

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, this is not an either/or situation. A great system, structure, cause, or organization causes great people to gravitate to it. Which attracts even more great people to it in an upwards virtuous cycle. It has been my great pleasure in working in the credit union movement to have met so many of these fine, amazing people. It is both the underlying principles and cause of the CU movement, as well as the fantastic people working in it, that continues to make this an endeavor worthy of full commitment.

Anonymous said...

Structure in and of itself is not and cannot be the difference.

The rest of my comment expanded out to a full blown post