Shall We Dance?

Forging member relationships with a personal touch isn't always a cakewalk

December 19, 2011

I love to go dancing.

If you’re lucky enough to be partnered with Fred Astaire, spins, dips, and fancy footwork unfold with confidence, grace, and enthusiasm.

Observers may be so impressed they’ll wonder, “How did they learn to do that?”

If you’re matched with the wrong partner, however, the dance floor becomes an obstacle course of discomfort and doubt. The tango is tangled, music becomes background noise, and no bond of trust exists. Observers and participants alike may think to themselves, “Thank goodness that’s over…” at the end of the ball.

Does your credit union have the finesse of Fred Astaire? Are you and your membership both planning to cha-cha, or would one of you rather square dance? Is the music of your environment—economic conditions, technology, job outlook, community needs, member demographics—an accompaniment to your footwork or do you fail to feel the beat?

Let’s waltz through the research together and wow the crowd!

Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.
Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.

First, a foreclosure foxtrot. In the Federal Reserve Board’s “Do Borrower Rights Improve Borrower Outcomes? Evidence from the Foreclosure Process” comparisons are made between states that “allow power-of-sale foreclosures with states that do not…”

The report determines foreclosure prevention efforts do extend the foreclosure timeline but ultimately fail to reduce foreclosures.

How does your state regulate such activity? What remedies does your credit union offer to cure the delinquent borrower?

Another foreclosure tidbit: “Delinquencies Decrease, Foreclosures Rise in Latest MBA Mortgage Delinquency Survey.” 

In “Vacant Properties: Growing Number Increases Communities’ Costs and Challenges,”  the Government Accountability Office examines three trends:
1. The number of vacant properties and correlations to increasing foreclosures;
2. Costs created by vacant properties and who is responsible to pay; and
3. State and local government attempts to address the situation, and the federal government’s role in the process.

How does your credit union limit foreclosures? How many of your mortgages are vulnerable to foreclosure or delinquency?

Does your membership promptly share with you concerns they may have about abilities to make their housing payments on time? How do you respond to such issues? What is your community’s foreclosure rate compared to those around you? What is your competition doing to address such problems?

Job jitterbug
In the mood for a Job jitterbug? Hip hop over to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s “Employment Situation Summary” for the latest rundown.

Also see “Reducing Unemployment by Shrinking the American Workforce,” where Gallup dances around the notion that a falling unemployment rate ”is more a sign of how bad the job market is right now than an indication that job conditions are improving” because laborers continue to leave the workforce.

Further speculation on employment and the economy: “What appears to matter for a reduction in the unemployment rate is the rate of actual economic growth compared with the rate of growth in potential output…a measure of the economy’s capacity to produce goods and services when resources, such as labor, are fully utilized,” says “Economic Growth and the Unemployment Rate,” a report of the Congressional Research Service.

What do these employment analyses mean for your members—and, as a result, your credit union? What percentage of your membership is affected by these job trends? Do you have members leaving the workforce voluntarily as weariness of job searching prevails? Can you anticipate these employment issues and plan products and services accordingly? How will this affect your institution’s bottom line?

Another job-related issue concerns health insurance coverage. “Variation in Public Opinion on the Future of Employment-Based Health Benefits: Findings from the 2011 Health Confidence Survey” by EBRI shows that most believe employers will continue to offer health coverage as a benefit.

Hopefully that’s the case because most consumers don’t believe they could afford such coverage on their own, and “few individuals reported that they are not likely to purchase coverage” should the employer discontinue offering it.

Are any of your select employee groups facing the loss of health insurance coverage? How could you help in such a situation?

One final boogie through the Census data this week, as “Census Bureau Releases 2010 Income and Poverty Estimates for All Counties and School Districts.” “The 2010 estimates…show that about one-third (1,011) of counties had school-age poverty rates significantly above the national poverty rate of 19.8% and 851 counties had rates significantly below.”

Where is your county in these rankings? Are there unmet needs for school kids that you could accommodate? What type of community outreach would be most valuable?

Forging member relationships with a personal touch isn’t always a cakewalk, but when Fred and Ginger captivate the crowd, it is a magical experience. Shall we dance?

LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.