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Shari Storm on February 24th, 2005 @ 06:20 AM 1 comment

Does Anyone Really Care?

A few weeks ago, Business Week Online ran an article about Wal-Mart getting into the banking industry. Here is a quote from the article:

“There’s no question, they want to have a nationwide financial-services network. If they do, there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll be able to do to community banks the same thing they’ve done to the local grocery store and the local hardware store and the local clothing store,” says the community banker group’s Ence.”

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_06/b3919046_mz011.htm

Is Wal-Mart going to put us out of business? I wonder. It sounds like the analyst think they can – with their size and spread.

There lingers with me one nagging question. I mean, Wal-Mart is certainly a strong company. There is no denying that. But they aren’t known for their great service. The few times I have been into a Wal-Mart, I haven’t received any Nordstrom-like attention. I have never heard of anyone who has. Folks don’t go there for the good service, after all, they go there for the price and sometimes the convenience and perhaps after awhile because it is the only game in town. I have read all sorts of articles about disgruntled Wal-Mart employees and class action suits. I read “Nickel and Dimed in America” about Barbara Ehrenreich’s experience working there, which sounded horrendous.

So that leaves me asking – does anyone care about good service? Are we spending all of this time and money here at Verity to make sure we are providing the best possible service just to have Wal-Mart Savings and Loan come in across the street and put us out of business?

Is our attention on our members all for not? I guess only time will tell. Sigh.

1 comment

Trey Reeme on June 27th, 2005 at 05:26 AM

Shari,

The answer to “Does anyone really care?” is a resounding “yes” –

As the comment in the article you referenced reads: ”’It’s not a question of if Wal-Mart’s going to be a bank, it’s a question of when,’ says D. Anthony Plath, a finance professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.” Even though there’s not been any recent big news on Wal-Mart’s banking quest (or at least any that I’ve noticed), it’s probably a good idea for credit unions to play “What-if?”

As long as Verity continues to educate members about WHY credit union membership is important, most of your membership will see banks and consumer finance companies for what they are: profit-driven. If every CU tried as hard as you do, stats like these wouldn’t exist.

Wal-Mart has started labeling itself, as the article mentions, “a trusted name in financial services.”

It’s up to credit unions to call them on that. That’s the beauty of the blogosphere, and kudos to you for educating your members and asking for their input.

Your tagline, on the other hand, carries real weight. You can back it up.

Also, Wal-Mart would have a hard time buying great service and translating it to “customers” (not members). With credit unions, though, great service is inherently present. Volunteer boards of directors, your not-for-profit status, and rates and products that banks refuse to compete with all dictate that.

So, yes, your members care. They care that their best interests are always on your mind – rather than a bottom line. They care that you take the time to blog with them. And as long as YOU care, Verity won’t ever be put out of business by Wal-Mart, Wells Fargo, GMAC, or any other for-profit bank or lender.

Trey Reeme
creeme@trabian.com
trey@opensourcecu.com

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