I recently took a family vacation to Belize and went fishing with my son. We were out on the beautiful Caribbean Sea with a fisherman from a small local village. I started chatting with the fisherman about his life and family, when he proudly announced, “I own a bank”.
His statement took me by surprise, and I was immediately interested. Kechu explained that he was a member of a credit union, and that meant he owned the bank. His relatives were also members and owners. Kechu explained that the bank looked after them because they owned it, and it helped them save money.
Kechu didn’t know that I was a credit union CEO—he had no idea what I did for a living. But I was happy and proud to see this barefoot fisherman taking full advantage of his local not-for-profit financial institution to improve his life. And I loved that Kechu recognized that owning his bank was more beneficial than just being a customer.
Once upon a time I worked for a bank. Banks are not necessarily bad, and we do technically share the same goal: To add value to our stakeholders. Banks do this by improving profits so they can pay dividends to their stockholders. Credit Unions do this by returning value to our member/owners in terms of lower fees and better rates.
I have not seen a bank with a non-promotional rate lower than our 6.99% APR Platinum Credit Card. I have not seen a bank that reverses ATM fees unless you have a much deeper relationship than a simple checking account. I have not seen a bank that quickly reverses a one-time late payment fee unless you have a lot of money with them. And I’m pretty sure there are no banks that let you speak directly with the CEO.
Every day I wonder why people choose banks over credit unions, and I wish there was a way to help them understand the benefits like Kechu does. As a KeyPoint member, I hope that you, too, will proudly tell strangers and friends, “I own a bank.”