Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Turn Off Your TV

Whether we realize it or not, television does influence our behavior. Have you ever noticed how thirsty you get after watching a beer commercial? Or how you notice more wrinkles in your skin right after an Oil of Olay ad? Lately I have been paying more attention to my own reactions to television. Here are a few of my observations:

1. There is rarely anything positive reported on the nightly news, which tends to put me in a bad mood. And when I'm in a bad mood, I sometimes like to buy nice things to help myself feel better.

2. After watching TV, I am more likely to feel poor. Think about it...most people on TV are rich or at least live rich lifestyles. They all live in nice houses, drive nice cars, dress to the nines and eat at the best restaurants. Don't you wish you could live like that all the time?

3. I need to upgrade my life. Technology is changing so fast that all the things I currently own are considered old. My cell phone, television and laptop are way too bulky, my MP3 player doesn't hold enough songs, even my toaster is lacking.

What does this have to do with Verity, you might ask? Well, we encourage financial responsibility, and I'm proposing that television does just the opposite. I think that the more you watch TV, the more money you're going to spend.

This week, April 24-30, is TV Turnoff Week. I invite you to participate and see if you notice any changes in the way you feel or even the way you spend money.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

I recently read a white paper that was published by Verity Credit Union’s bond broker, Performance Trust in Chicago. The gist of the paper was that there are many companies out there that offer products and services that ostensibly “help” us, while their main objective seems to be putting us out of business. PUT US OUT OF BUSINESS…YIKES!!

“Who might want to put Verity Credit Union out of business”, you might ask? The obvious answer is commercial and community banks, our primary competitors. There is a war being waged against Credit Unions right now by the American Bankers Association over our tax-exempt status. It hasn’t reached the headlines in Washington, but in other States, it’s front page news. I could go on forever about that battle, but I’ll save it for another posting.

I started to think about who Verity Credit Union partners with for various products and services and where I personally do business and found that, on a daily basis, the credit union and I help support those who would rather not see us around. Here’s an abbreviated list and what they do for us/me:

Companies that Verity Credit Union uses that competes with us:

U.S. Bank: Helps us clear foreign checks that are deposited by members.
Wells Fargo: Helps us by providing first mortgage options to our members.
Washington Mutual: Helps us by providing first mortgage options to our members.
Columbia Savings Banks: Helps us by processing business credit card transactions.
PEMCO: Used to help us by processing ATM and Debit card transactions. PEMCO has a direct to consumer mutual fund arm that competes with Verity Credit Union’s investment department.

Companies that Verity Credit Union uses that competes with us:

State Farm Insurance: Has a national savings bank and investment arm.
Wal-Mart: Has recently applied for a national bank charter.

Every time Verity Credit Union or I as a consumer do business with these companies, it puts profit in their pockets. They use this profit to market against us. Assuming that there is a finite amount of dollars that Verity Credit Union has available for all expenses, countering our competitors attacks leaves less money available to pay great rates on deposits and keep our rates down on loans.

As an officer of the credit union, I will be looking for alternatives for the above services that are not backed either directly or indirectly by a competitor. Sometimes it’s less convenient or outright hard, but it’s better than contributing to those whose aim is our demise.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Extrodinary Feats In Service - March Winner

Hurricane Katrina was one of the biggest natural disasters ever to hit the United States. Often when things are at there worst it is when you see people at their best. Many people changed their lives to help those affected by the Hurricane. Some of these people were members at Verity. One of these members recently came back to comment on how much our Member Service Center helped him in his transition down to the areas affected by the Hurricane. Two people nominated the Member Service Department for this award after they spoke to him. Here are their nominations:

Nomination Number One:
On April 4rd, John Madden (not the football announcer) visited our office for the sole purpose of expressing his many thanks to the Member Service Center for their outstanding service. He specifically complimented Marie Hull for her exceptional service. He also mentioned several times how no matter who he talked to in the department they were consistently friendly, patient and able to help him with odd situations or requests.

Mr. Madden works for the government and his work took him to Louisiana and other places affected by Hurricane Katrina. He said over the course of several months he would call Verity for assistance in how to get cash (we referred him to atms and shared branching) or for other advice. We always came through for him. He is transferring to Omaha Nebraska but because of Member Services quality service, he will continue to keep his business with Verity.

Nomination Number Two:
Tuesday, April 4, 2006 a Member walked up to the front desk and asked to speak with a Manager. Not sure if it was a good thing or bad, I asked what it was concerning, and he started telling me that he is in charge of a relief effort for the Katrina Hurricane and that he had to relocate himself and some of his banking business out of state while also keeping an account with Verity Credit Union. He continued to tell me about the trials with his financial situations including buying a house and keeping his travel funds separate. Anyways, he then mentioned how well the Member Service Call Center Crew handled his many difficult requests on the phone in order to take care of his many challenging financial ordeals. I quickly called Ms. Sherry Steckly so that he could let her know personally about how well her crew did in accommodating his financial questions and requests. She and I were both were very pleased to know that he made a special trip to tell someone what a fantastic job everyone in the Call Center did. I think the whole Call Center should be commended for their excellent standards of member service. And knowing that this random situation of him walking in here and sharing his experiences with the Verity Staff is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the call center’s reputation for outstanding service to our Members!

building envy

Verity has new neighbors. Where there once stood a decrepit Barnaby’s and a vacant parking lot, now stands a brand spankin’ new medical office building. We’ve watched the construction process for months and months, and finally our new neighbors are moving in, my dentist among them.

Yesterday I had my first dentist appointment in the new building. As I sat in the chair, waiting to get my teeth drilled, I noted that I was facing our Member Service Center and that anyone could just look out across the way and watch me get my fillings. I was uncomfortable about this, but my dentist assured me that with all the equipment and people hanging over me, there wouldn’t be much to see. Then she asked, “Is that your lunch room on the third floor over there?” I told her it was. “And, are those vending machines?” Yes. “And can you go outside on that balcony and eat lunch out there in the sun?” Indeed. Then she asked jokingly, “Can we come over and eat lunch with you?”

So, I kind of gave an open invitation to my dentist and her staff to join me for lunch over on the third floor patio at Verity. Is that weird? It’s kind of like Verity is that high school friend’s house that you always wanted to hang out at. You know, the house that had the pool and the big screen TV and the fridge that was always stocked with soda.