Masterminding Your Path Through the Coming Economic Turmoil

Bad times are coming at you. A recent Credit Union Times headline screamed: Preparing for COVID Loan Losses. The subhead multiplied the miseries: CUs are preparing for a wave of COVID-related loan losses, delinquencies, and bankruptcies.

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CU2.0 Podcast Episode 107 Bert Hash CEO MECU (Retired) A Credit Union Life

When Bert Hash, Jr. took over as CEO of MECU in 1996 it was a $400 million institution with one branch that served municipal employees of Baltimore. In this podcast, he tells about the institution he took charge of. It had exactly zero ATMs.  It did not dispense cash to members – if a member wanted a withdrawal, they were issued a check and most went across the street to a bank to cash it.

Hash, who came to MECU after a long career with banks, knew there had to be changes.  Within his first six months, he put cash in the branch, installed the first ATM, brought in computers, and prepared the institution for the battles ahead of it.

When he retired in 2014, MECU had assets of $1.3 billion, a membership of 106,000, and it had grown from one branch to 11.

I knew I had to talk with him even before I heard that story and that was because retired SECU North Carolina CEO Jim Blaine and Renee Sattiewhite of AACUC  enthusiastically seconded the motion.

When I initially asked Bert, he momentary hesitated – did he belong in the company this podcast features? Of course, I knew he did. But he is a decent, modest man and you will hear that personality throughout this podcast.

In one section he tells of taking a call from an irate member who believed MECU had made a mistake with his account. Bert agreed with him but still, the man went on and after 30 minutes, the man was still threatening to move his account to a bank.  Bert told him he was sure he would find at least one thing different at a bank. What asked the man. “You won’t have a half-hour conversation with the bank CEO trying to convince you to stay,” said Bert.

His is a credit union life and it is made all the special because, as an African American, he faced challenges in his career path and in his leadership of MECU.  He tells his story in this podcast which is an especially personal document.

At the end, you will hear a podcast paste on where a recording of a call Bert made to me is.  That’s because as he reflected overnight about what he had said when asked if he witnessed racism in financial services, he decided he had more to say. His perspective is thoughtful, nuanced, realistic. (Sound quality is different. But the recording is audible.)

He offers a brief summary of the 100+ year of African American credit unions, tells why he thinks them important in reaching out to the underserved and offers a stirring perspective on the real credit union mission.

Along the way, you will hear mention of many past CU2.0 podcasts – Jim BlaineBucky SebastianGary OaklandRenee SattiewhiteBill Bynum, Cathie Mahon, and Marc Schaefer.

This podcast is recorded in Phoenix – thus the first remarks from Bert.

Tech note: this week the podcast switched to new software, Hindenburg Journalist.  Forgive any glitches – they are on me.

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Want to listen to more of the Credit Union 2.0 podcast series? Click here to view the series.

Like what you are hearing? Find out how you can help sponsor this podcast here. Very affordable sponsorship packages are available. Email [email protected]

CU2.0 Podcast Episode 105 Angela Russell CUNA Mutual on Race and Equity and What to Do Now DEI4

Ask Angela Russell, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CUNA Mutual Group, a year from now what she would want to be able to tell us about progress made in the year and she did not hesitate with her answer.

On a personal level, she said, she hoped her son would be able to go for a run outside without fear.

Professionally, she said she hoped that the conversation about race and diversity and financial inclusion would be continuing and that credit unions would still be taking positive actions, rather than today’s focus on race simply fading away as just another fad.

Take a deep breath now. If you believe this will be a heavy podcast that challenges a lot of your beliefs you are right.

“We are doing better but we have a long way to go,” said Russell

But also know this: Angela Russell is an engaging conversationalist (hear her personal podcast, Black Oxygen, here) who laughs often but who also puts our attention on issues we might want to ignore – but nowadays we cannot.

The US is changing. We are fast on the way to becoming a minority majority nation. Credit unions that want to stay relevant need to adapt to this changing reality and that means, among other things, tuning into the changing demographics of their communities, seeking to engage minority board members, and seeking to improve representation of multiple races and nationalities on their workforces.

It’s a tall order. But now is the time.

There are many related podcasts in this series, including #100 with Victor Miguel Corro of Coopera, another CU DEI Collective member, 101 with Renee Sattiewhite of the African American Credit Union Coalition, and also Cathie Mahon, CEO of Inclusiv, also a CU DEI Collective member. And a podcast with Cliff Rosenthal, a pioneer in the CDFI world. And there’s a podcast with Pablo DeFillipa, also of Inclusiv.


Another don’t miss is Bill Bynum of Hope CU.


The podcast also mentions a book titled Evicted, by Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond.

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Want to listen to more of the Credit Union 2.0 podcast series? Click here to view the series.

Like what you are hearing? Find out how you can help sponsor this podcast here. Very affordable sponsorship packages are available. Email [email protected]

Why Your Credit Union Needs Office 365

Most credit unions have been using Microsoft Office for years. But the legacy versions have been surpassed in efficiency by their successor. Office 365 is the new and improved version of the tried and true Microsoft programs. There is a big demand for businesses to undergo digital transformations.

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CU2.0 Podcast Episode 104 Brad Powell Redboard the Smarter Audit Software

You know the feelings – powerlessness, exasperation, maybe even anger – and know that these are typical for credit union staff involved in audits conducted by regulators.

Those audits are routine but for many credit unions, they are an ordeal.

Why?  Maybe 8 in 10 credit unions still handle issues that arise in an audit the same way they did in 1990, that is, a  lot of email flies around to staff (“Handle the attached request from the auditor”) and everything is logged into a tracking spreadsheet.

Except some items never make it into the spreadsheet.  Some emails go missing. And anxiety and frustration boil over.

Those credit unions are drowning in minutiae.

Here’s the life preserver.

Enter Redboard, a software tool that automates the process and, says Redboard CEO Brad Powell, the software pays for itself in reduced staff time alone.

Some audit software is hard to use. Not Redboard. When asked, Powell said it’s “so easy even a caveman can use it.”

He added that “we build our software on the same principle that Apple builds the iPhone,” that is, there is significant sophistication but, for most users, what they experience is how easy it all is.

Listen up.

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Want to listen to more of the Credit Union 2.0 podcast series? Click here to view the series.

Like what you are hearing? Find out how you can help sponsor this podcast here. Very affordable sponsorship packages are available. Email [email protected]