One Year and Two Dollars Later

by. Shari Storm

In 2012 I compiled “23 Credit Union Truths” for this blog site and we later discussed them on the Current Issues in Credit Unions podcast.

Truth number 9 was “You can spend $2 million pleading with your members to change their behavior. Charge a $2 fee and they change overnight. In other words, $2 can often accomplish what $2 million cannot.”

In the podcast, I gave the example of a statement fee. I joked that, as the head of marketing at my credit union, I had spent thousands of dollars encouraging, prodding, even bribing our members to turn to electronic statements. I may have had a handful of members heed our cry. Then we implemented a statement fee and – voila – 10% of our checking account holders changed to electronic statements. Hence my pithy assertion that two dollars can often do what two million cannot.

I realize that most credit unions are reluctant to broach the subject of fees after what happened last year to some of the big banks, a certain mobile service provider and a DVD rental company. But I’d like to tell you about our experience implementing a fee in this environment. I’d like to talk with you about it because I think we are all going to need to be looking at these things. I believe it will be difficult for any size credit union to thrive with the loan losses, NCUA assessments, rising operational expenses and downward pressure on net interest margin without taking a long and hard look at non-interest income.

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