How Ebenezer Scrooge saved a credit union

This meeting was dead: to begin with.

After all, ’twas the credit union management meeting before Christmas. Jim from HR couldn’t stop thinking about the sugar cookies in the break room. Alice in Marketing hid her holiday shopping list in her padfolio and was checking it twice. Bill the CFO was attempting to calculate the precise number of hours left until his in-laws arrived.

Just as the clock struck 10:00 a.m., the CEO announced a special guest would be speaking at the meeting… A Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge of London.

The Christmas before had been a monumental one for Mr. Scrooge. Through a series of events no one would believe, he learned to “honor Christmas in his heart, and vowed to try to keep it all the year.” Naturally, as a way to spread the message of the season, he decided to join the credit union lecture circuit. You know, the obvious choice.

So here he stood, in front of Jim drawing pictures of baked goods and Bill discreetly using his cell phone calculator.

Scrooge managed to captivate the room with his incredible tale, explaining that in order for the credit union to reach its strategic goals set for the New Year and beyond, it must live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The credit union could not afford to shut out the lessons that they teach.


“Failure isn’t fatal, but failure to change might be” – John Wooden

It’s a tough pill to swallow, but your credit union isn’t going to get it right every time. Where mistakes are made, lessons should be learned. Take time before year-end to look back on what might have missed the mark in 2016 – be it a marketing campaign, a new product launch, or an operational procedure – and take a deep dive into what failed specifically and why. More importantly, don’t be afraid to try a modified version of your initiative in the future. Just make sure what you’ve learned from the past shapes how you execute it going forward.


Ahhh, the Present – time’s unsung hero. While it’s easy to get mired in the way things have always been done or where we envision our credit union being in years to come, the solutions to our problems are often found in examining the everyday. In their bestselling book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, authors Chip and Dan Heath illustrate the power of identifying “bright spots.” As humans, we’re wired to be problem-solvers; we zero in on what is negative and go to work searching for solutions. It’s certainly important to be aware of what’s not working at your credit union, but it’s equally as important to identify what IS working and duplicate those things. Shedding light on successes gives you a guide of where you want to go and what kind of credit union you want to be. It also gives your staff the assurance that they’re doing many things right, and the motivation to keep doing those things well.


Have you ever had a day full of putting out fires? A week? A month? While we need to keep an eye on what is directly in front of us at our credit union and how it affects our employees and members, we must also have our finger on the pulse of what might impact our institutions in the future.  What technology advancements can you prepare for instead of playing catch up to implement? Are there anticipated market shifts for core products like auto loans and mortgages? How will your credit union adapt to (and thrive under) impending interest rate hikes?

“Don’t be a Scrooge!” might be an expression you don’t want to find yourself on the receiving end of. The truth is embracing your inner Ebenezer can make you an inspiring leader. Scrooge helped to save this credit union, and he can help yours, too! Keeping the past, present, and future in balance ensures your credit union is on the path to long-term success and growth. Just make sure you keep the “Bah Humbug”s to a minimum.

Liz Garster

Liz Garster

Liz Garster is AVP of Marketing & Client Services at TwoScore, a firm dedicated to helping credit unions achieve their strategic goals through marketing. Working in credit unions for over ... Web: Details