When thinking about my transition from young adult to working professional, I constantly cite three milestones:
- When I found my job, as an intern at Lake Trust Credit Union
- When I found my passion/career, after Crashing the GAC and Filene’s big.bright.minds
- And, when I found my calling, as a graduate and mentor in the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF) DE program
Last week, I had another opportunity to work with the NCUF, by hosting a DE Collaboration Session. This hour-long forum allowed me to share some of TransUnion’s most recent Consumer Hardship Data. I talked at length with credit union advocates on how financial hardship is disproportionately impacting hourly employees and minority groups. I also shared data that showed how many Americans were delaying major purchases or events like home buying, new/used autos, and education. We know the financing of these experiences are key ways credit unions serve their community.
But, more impactful than any slides or data I had prepared was the conversation from the credit union advocates. We heard stories from a credit union in Connecticut, that was hosting virtual “financial health house parties”. A credit union in New Mexico shared how their inclusive lending program has adapted to continue to serve their unique field of membership. Some CU employees were shouldering new responsibilities; others were scrambling to learn and deploy new products, programs, and compliance requirements, all while juggling different tasks at home, like teaching their children (and in some cases simultaneously teaching themselves) geometry.
These Collaboration Sessions were just one of the many DE Alumni Resources the NCUF brought digital. Over the past month, I have participated in:
- Cooperative Learning Sessions – These focused sessions allow DEs to focus on a single topic of learning and development during the pandemic.
- Empathy Chats – These one on one sessions pair DEs to meet and practice empathetic communication.
- Happy Hours – A place for DEs to virtually socialize and share ideas and challenges
This surge of digital content is inspiring in a number of ways. To start, it is more inclusive than historical in-person industry events. I was able to participate in more DE events over the past month than I had in the prior year. It is also incredible to see how better connected DEs are becoming. My calendar is filling up as DE friends, new and old, grab time to discuss consumer financial hardship, and ideate on how we might help members navigate these uncertain times.
The road ahead will continue to present challenges. If other partners can follow the lead of the NCUF, and inspire credit union advocates to action, I am confident this industry can truly differentiate themselves from other financial organizations. Millions of Americans hold accounts at more than one type of financial institution. Let’s work together to guarantee their credit union is their most trusted financial partner as we collaboratively recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.