Feel the Love

CUs’ people-helping-people philosophy is another expression of love.

February 16, 2013
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Valentine’s Day brings to mind boxes of chocolates, flowers, and poetry.

However, romantic love is but one version of this emotion we honor on Feb. 14. As Margaret Atwood said, “The Eskimos had 52 names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.”

The people-helping-people philosophy of the credit union movement is another expression of love. We should consider the sentiments of James Thurber in the context of the unique ways credit unions meet members’ financial needs: “Love is what you’ve been through with somebody.”

Credit unions make emotional connections with members every day. Personalized friendly service, community support and outreach, concerns about serving the underserved, and targeted financial literacy campaigns are but a few of the ways credit unions make a difference.

In turn, a sense of fulfillment about our jobs can inspire us to new heights when we feel we make good contributions. It’s a recipe for ongoing mutually beneficial relationships!

Perhaps research findings this week will prompt you to shoot cupid’s arrow in new directions with perfectly pointed member service interactions.

‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’–Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do you connect with various demographics? Members of Generation X connect online as often as they do in person, according to research from the University of Michigan. And these connections “are a vital component of the quality of life.”

A further finding: Those with college degrees tend to maintain larger online social networks while those who haven’t finished high school rely on more traditional encounters.

Strategies for “Capturing the Elusive Youth Market” are posed by Direct Marketing News. Generation Y, for example, likes brand interaction.

This group has “heavy social reliance when making a purchase or content-consumption decision.”  Consequently, they make distinctions between static marketing messages and opportunities to interact or “collaborate with a brand in a way that makes them feel a certain sense of ownership and pride.”

Reaching Gen Y will require an upgrade of infrastructure and an ability to quickly change communications. Marketers need to “respect empowerment” of this group “without criticizing…entitlement.”

Indeed, your outreach efforts may pay off as “Brand Familiarity Reigns King around the World,” says Nielsen. “More than half (60%) of consumers around the world with Internet access prefer to buy new products from a familiar brand than switch,” and new products offered within the scope of existing, trusted brands can be an effective strategy.

However, generic brands delivering the same value will be competitors as 64% of global respondents say they’d buy a store brand or value option, and 45% agree that a tight economy makes them cautious to try a new product.

How might targeted marketing strategies to these groups and brand positioning create loyalty?

‘Come live in my heart and pay no rent.’—Samuel Lover

In housing news this week, “CoreLogic Reports 1.4 Million Borrowers Returned to “Positive Equity” Year to Date through the End of Third Quarter 2012.”

Analysis reveals 22% of residential properties with a mortgage were in negative equity at the end of the second quarter of 2012, down from 22.3% at the end of the second-quarter 2012.

Additional findings:

The Baker Institute explores “The Dynamic Effects of Eliminating or Curtailing the Home Mortgage Interest Deduction.” It finds that with complete elimination of the deduction, “GDP decreases slightly in the short run due to the adjustment costs incurred in reallocating the capital stock, and increases by 0.1% in the long run.” Among other findings, “Asset values increase in the non-housing sectors by under 2% and by 3.5% in the rental housing sector, coupled with a decline in the value of owner-occupied housing of roughly 4%.”

Don’t miss “The U.S. Housing Market: Current Conditions and Policy Considerations.”  Here, the Federal Reserve attempts to “provide a framework for thinking about certain issues and tradeoffs that policymakers might consider.”

There is no one cure for what ails the housing market. But discussion recommends policy “to find ways to help reconcile the existing size and mix of the housing stock and the current environment for housing finance. Fundamentally, such measures involve adapting the existing housing stock to the prevailing tight mortgage lending conditions—for example, devising policies that could help facilitate the conversion of foreclosed properties to rental properties—or supporting a housing finance regime that is less restrictive than today’s.”

Absence of such measures will continue to drive down housing prices and continue economic drag.

‘Who, being loved, is poor?’—Oscar Wilde

Some fall prey to financial fraudsters in matters of the heart. See “Internet Dating and Romance Scams” and share with your members concerns of the U.S. Department of State that American citizens can become fraud victims by those claiming to be outside the U.S. who seek friendship, romance, or marriage intent via the Internet.

Once connections are made, scammers request money and credit card data for travel, living expenses, or emergency funds. “Several citizens report losing thousands of dollars through such scams.”

This Valentine’s Day, bask in a moment to appreciate the many good things you do for your members. Know that you make a valuable difference that doesn’t conclude with their mortgage closing.

As Richard Bach once said, “True love stories never have endings.”






Lora Bray is a research librarian at CUNA.