Wednesday, August 31, 2016

For The Folks At SECU...

... like a song of love that clings to me,
... that's how you'll stay!

Thank you!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Robust Job Evaluation Ritual...


Job evaluations must be objective or else they wouldn't be fair.  And, life is not fair, so where does that leave us?  Ever thought about that?

Some consultant, some robusterian behavioral wizard, some unfathomable, "deep space" PhD, some "afraid-they're-gonna-sue" compliance officer has stuck the rest of us with this required annual ritual.   Much like Halloween, we all dress up as something we're not and parade about playing the adult version of "trick or treat."   We all are aware that the game is rigged, but we do our best to play along and objectively evaluate ourselves and others.  "Facebook evaluations" make more sense - y'know,  "thumbs up/thumbs down"?

Mirror, mirror on the wall... Oh, what fun - right!

"You're really are...
well... just incredible!

What a lie!  But, here's the most honest - and perhaps the only honest -  evaluation I've ever read:

Monday, August 29, 2016

Naked Fridays....

("Last blush"... for an old favorite!)

Let's go forward courageously; and forthrightly deal with the most important issue confronting the Credit Union Movement. No, it's not taxation, the banks, CFPB, nor the NCUA. Our most pressing challenge is "dress down Fridays" or "business casual" if you prefer.

Business-casual – actually “business sloppy” is a good bit more descriptive - has become a fashionable idea in some credit union circles. Many progressive Boards and managers, who support the wind whichever way it blows, have adopted this new benchmark for professional attire. The "new look" fits well on the revisionists'  list of "new age" credit union principles - few, of which, are worth dying for.

Proponents assert that the new dress standards create a more relaxed work environment; make employees feel more comfortable; boost morale; and are strongly supported by the membership. Yeah, un-huh! I guess the best that can be said for this type of slender logic is that it's only mildly "robust"!

It truly comes as a surprise to some of us that we are supposed to feel all "cozy and comfy" at work and should treat our duties in a relaxed, casual manner. 

Maybe we have misunderstood all along the realities of the modern workplace.  We really must have things backwards!  False Assumption Number One must be the belief that "our" job actually belongs to the credit union - and its membership. False Assumption Number Two must be the belief that we are employed and paid to do what is necessary and required, not what's convenient and comfortable. False Assumption Number Three must be that we are engaged in an extremely competitive, take no prisoners service business. And, False Assumption Number Four must be that our members expect, and are demanding, more from us - not less.

Old Fogey! Old Fogey! I can hear you crowing all the way from here! But, let's compromise. If dressing down is truly good for the Credit Union Movement, let's really go for it! Let's take it to the limit with the ultimate Dress Down Day - Naked Fridays! It could work wonders with the membership! For example, Naked Fridays will definitely build member traffic; grousing about long lines will decline; and no one will ever again notice if a teller fails to smile.

This idea was broached recently with our staff.
Their reaction broke down into two distinct groups: those who were indignant and those who were very indignant! There were some surprises, however, among the actual responses. Older employees, figuring they had more to gain than lose, unanimously supported the proposal. Female employees were particularly difficult to convince. They did not object, in general, to the concept; but argued forcefully for a pay differential since they felt they added greater value. Equally disruptive, the female staff adamantly refused to pledge not to giggle around their male co-workers!

One previously ardent advocate for "business sloppy" became particularly incensed when she was asked how she would feel about coming to work on Fridays naked. It was an innocent enough question; but she became enraged; started yelling wildly; and pointed her finger decisively at me. I won't tell you what she said, nor which finger she was pointing; let's just say it wasn't very pretty! "Communications" around the Credit Union were, at least, "really good" for a week or so...

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Tree Of Knowledge....

The Internet "Social Media":

The "Digital" Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil ?

Hey, don't worry ....

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Are You "Listening" ....?

Q:  Did the CU regulatory system fail in 2009?  (Think we all can answer that one!)

Q:  What precisely were the reasons the credit union regulatory system failed?

Q:  Why did the credit union regulatory system fail to anticipate the problems which arose?

Q:  Who was responsible for the failure of the credit union regulatory system?

Humpty Dumpty sat and sat and s...
Q:  Just how costly was that failure to credit unions?

Q:  Exactly what has been changed within the credit union regulatory system to prevent a reoccurrence?

Q:  Significant organizational, governance, and personnel changes do not appear to have been made.  Why wasn't a major overhaul of the credit union regulatory system implemented, given the massive extent of the failure?

Q:  Why should credit unions have faith that the very same regulatory system, the same leadership, and the same lack of foresight which failed so thoroughly in the past, will not produce the same results in the future? 

Hump Time!
(Dump Time?)

.... are you "listening"? 

( If so, then get off your "egg"!)  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Too Big For Their Breaches....

"Gimme Shelter..."
Despite the massive legal and legislative wranglings, over the last few years,
between retailers and credit card issuers, one major source of argument and friction remains unresolved. That issue, that source of ill-will and dispute, is the question of responsibility, accountability, and liability for losses associated with credit card "breaches".

A "breach" arises when individual consumer
"Dishonest hacktivity..."
credit card data is stolen from the computer systems of a merchant or card processor. Generally the breach occurs due to the dishonesty or lack of training of a retail employee, or from a flaw or lapse in the security and controls protecting the retailer's card processing systems.  

The mischief and financial losses which result from the misuse of stolen credit card data can be extremely costly to the retailer, card issuer and the consumer.
Kiss It Good-bye...!

Retail card breaches are not an infrequent occurrence as most credit union card issuers know. Most frustratingly, retailers and merchants have a well-established reputation for failure to acknowledge their card processing lapses.  Deny, stall, and delay are favorite tactics.  

In the meantime, the consumer feels threatened, uncertain, and betrayed, while the credit union bears the costs of notification, card replacement, and trying to help manage the outrage and frustration of the members who have been victimized.  

Had an example of the very high "reputation cost" of a breach to the credit union just last week.  Was on the receiving end of a complaint call from a highly infuriated, female credit union member of long-standing. Didn't even get the slightest opportunity to offer my explanation that "the CU didn't cause the breach" before:

"And further more..."
"I've been a member for over thirty years and have always counted on the CU to look after my money and protect my privacy. Heard you claim all these years that the CU is working in the best interests of the members. Well, this is the third replacement card I've gotten in the last two years!  What kind of slip-shod operation are you running down there ? How can any of us trust you if you can't keep up with your credit card numbers; when did you stop hiring honest employees?  Don't you think the members should hire some new blood that can run the place right?!??!"

Well, you get the picture (and she was  just "warming up"), but what made this situation particularly frustrating for me was ...

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Credit Unions: Finding Our Market Niche....

Q:  Is there a future for credit unions in this highly competitive financial marketplace?

A:  As someone recently suggested, what if credit unions focused our efforts solely on those consumers who are "overcharged" by the banking industry and those consumers who are "underserved" by the banking industry?

H-m-m-m.... Let's see now: 1) focus only on those underserved by the banks and 2) those overcharged by the banks. Why that would include....

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fine Whine...

The capital markets specialist was much like a fine French Beaujolais....

....young, dry, lightweight, 
a bit fruity.

(Not yet robust!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


Not sure how
I feel about this !

A true story which arose not from a credit union, but from a recent visit to the dentist office….  

The dentist injected several rounds of Novocaine in anticipation of a little ceramic repair work and then departed to give the anesthetic a few minutes to work its magic.  Upon returning he asked a question and made the blog….

He asked:  "Do you feel…

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Climate Change... The Latest Episode.

Reading the Wall Street Journal is usually pretty dry stuff, but every now and then...

The August 13/14 weekend edition had an opinion piece ("California's Cow Police") on "enteric fermentation" which is a concern, growing louder, in the debate over climate change and air quality in California.  The short word for enteric fermentation i"flatulence" (there are also several even shorter, oft used four letter descriptors). It seems that the California Air Resources Board has "quietly released" regulations to cut the state's greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

It wasn't me!

The principal obstacle to meeting these goals apparently is methane gas, which is described as "a short-lived climate pollutant" with "an out-sized impact on climate change in the short term". Methane is mostly produced by cows, but California dairy farmers are struggling with how to get the cows to agree to the politically mandated 40% reduction in methane levels. As the WSJ so appropriately notes: "Many California dairy farms have already been converted into nut farms, which are more economical amid the state's high regulatory costs". With current regulatory overreach, it is not too hard to imagine even more of California turning into "nut farms"...

But, the real concern is...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

It's Hard To Be Robustly Humble...

Economic Truth Decay!
John Maynard Keynes, the eminent British economist, said: "If economists could manage to get themselves thought of as humble, competent people, on a level with dentists, that would be splendid!" 

But according to a recent blurb in The Economist, humility is not a growing phenomena among economists, who have come to believe they are superior.  Jokes Deidre McCloskey, an economic historian: "An economist will tell you with all the confidence of a witch doctor that interest rates will rise 56 basis points next month or that dropping agricultural subsidies will increase Swiss national income by 14.8%."
Cock-eyed, "which doctors"?

Kind of reminded me of the remarkable and consistent record of unreliability achieved by our economic pontificators, our "robusterian witch doctors" over on Duke Street, Alexandria. A well-signaled malpractice in any other profession - even at the novice or amateur level.

Makes one think that in terms of economic foresight and quantitative analysis the NCUA is...  

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Sun Also Rises.....

Guidance: "DUCK!"

Was really thrilled and certainly grateful for the "guidance" recently provided to credit unions on hurricanes and floods by the folks over on Duke Street.  It had never occurred to me that the NCUA was a noted authority and a point of reference on the topic of disasters, but come to think of it... 

U.S. Economic Forecast??

Did know that they had hired a slew of economists (about $2 million bucks worth!) to help assist the Federal Reserve with national economic planning.  So, perhaps the natural extension of that logic was to add a staff weatherman and meteorologists to help the National Weather Bureau with its forecasts.  The reliability and precision of economic and weather forecasts are, after all, "robustly correlated"

Diaster Central Command Post
When you establish a clear record of competence and expertise; it's only natural to want to share those gifts with others.  And, NCUA has most definitely established quite a reputation for competence and expertise over the last decade...

Here's the NCUA's new official disaster guidance:

  • Implement pre-disaster actions to ensure a constant state of readiness.
  • Communicate disaster preparedness and response efforts before, during, and after an emergency.
  • Utilize a cross-section of people to develop, test, and implement disaster preparedness and response plans.
  • Ensure back-ups are available.
  • Treat disaster preparedness and response plans as living documents.


Thursday, August 18, 2016


... means you never have
 to say (or admit!)
you're "sorry".

It is increasingly obvious that senior level failures at the Agency are squelched, white-washed, veiled and varnished - never to be acknowledged, all without consequence.

Which is why the NCUA is one of the few places in all the world, where you can meet....

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

From The Field: High Heel Sneakers...

"Last Saturday, John Franklin and Bill
A drag race?
Anderson volunteered to participate in the Harbor House Walk.  The men dressed up in drag and high heels and did the 3-mile walk around the track."

Can't make this stuff up...

"This fund raiser was to benefit Harbor House, which is a local non-profit organization for absurd women."

Sounds more like the men were...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Strategic Planning...

One often finds the most exquisite, logical insight in some of the most unusual places - and from some of the most unlikely sources! No, relax, this is not another post in praise of the NCUA; you jumped to that delusion on your own, probably out of habit...

Was bobbing around in the surf at Caswell Beach on Oak Island 
[ "Clyde's place"] last week, discussing life with a seven year old grandson. In the trough between waves, the talk turned to tsunamis - how they occurred, the destruction they wrought and what we should do if a tidal wave suddenly rolled in while we were in the water? 

Just in case y'know. Strategic planning and all that if you get my drift.... One of those "idiosyncratic" [with the emphasis on the "idio-"!] models that currently creates arousal in the "robusterian" cap/quant sect.   

So, the question was posed: "What should we do to escape if a tidal wave hits?" And without blinking, an inarguable answer was provided...

Monday, August 15, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Internet Ads... Drop Down Boxes

Some burning questions. 

Most internet ads which pop-up as you surf the net are pretty dull, uninteresting.  But occasionally...

Starting at $995 !!

Don't Wait Until It's Too Late !

     Montlawn Cemetery

Which leads to a couple of questions of the package provider...

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Cat Food Letter...

Why I like where I work...       
                                         ..... and the folks I work for.

"There is a difference... at a credit union!"

Friday, August 12, 2016

Without a Shadow Of A Doubt...

The Agency has just released its latest video on enterprise risk management for credit unions.

"We are pleased once again to be at the very  forefront of risk management with robust analyses of potential risks which you would never ever have thought about without our help.  When we worry, you should worry!"

After all, we must protect the NCUSIF; folks would think we weren't competent if we bankrupted the Fund again!  

So, we're out to identify any and all risks; and, to make sure that you write a plan to manage each of them. 

Remember, NCUA is a stakeholder in your credit
union! We must manage your credit union while you write plans, since you don't have time to manage while you're writing plans... which come to think of it, sounds like another risk for which you should plan.

                                                                                           But, before we do that new plan, here's the new video from the Agency entitled:  

"A New, Dark Risk Every Credit Union 
Should Fear"

Thursday, August 11, 2016

All's Well At Exam Time.....

An ancient Chinese proverb famously tells the 
Well, well...
story of a frog which lived at the bottom of a well. The frog was supremely confident in his understanding of the world; and, from his point of view, the sky he saw above him represented the entire universe.  The frog had no concept that anything existed outside his realm of understanding.

Bottoms up!

Limited understanding, limited outlook, limited vision sounds like a recipe for farce - except that it's not at all funny when "the frogs" decide to drag everyone else down to the bottom of the well.

Most credit unions, out of deference to and support of authority, have tried to "toad the line"... but if our regulatory "visionaries" keep it up, lots of credit unions are going "to croak".

Looking forward to another "ribbeting" (18 month!) exam cycle ....

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


And God touched Adam....

Too Little Communications... Or Too Much?

Speaking one's mind...
Ever wished that those who believe that...
"a lack of communication is the problem"

... would just shut up?

Monday, August 08, 2016

The Right People...

Flights of fancy...
Never been a big fan of airport "Business Advice" books - generally long on cliche, short on substance.  If you're going to waste a flight with a light weight text, you're better off to go with a romance novel, hilariously referred to as "bodice rippers."

I don't know what
you're talking about...
"Bodice rippers" at least have much better front covers and the content invariably includes a "toe curler" passage or two.  At least that's what I've been told; I have, of course, never read

But a couple of business advice writers do seem to stand the test of time well.  One of those writers is Jim Collins, author of Good To Great and Built To Last which have been spectacularly successful.  In 2009, Mr.Collins authored yet another best seller called How The Mighty Fall, which had some exceptional insights. 

In the book, Mr. Collins noted that for a successful company to survive and prosper it had to attract and retain "the right people". Here's how he suggested that you find those right people;

Sunday, August 07, 2016

About Purpose.... and Change.

"First they ignore you,
 then they laugh at you,
 then they attack you,
then you win."

- Mahatma Gandhi

Saturday, August 06, 2016

"1984": Very Un-Appealing .....

Was a bit surprised the other day to find that some folks may "not get it" on a reference to "1984"! Maybe that's just someone "showing their (lack of) age" or perhaps it's a sign of something a bit more dire...
The novel "1984" was written by George Orwell in 1949 and forecast a future world (to occur around the year 1984) in which "things were never quite what they seemed". The book starts off with the classic opening line:  " It was a bright, cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen." 

If you have ever encountered the phrases: "Big Brother is watching you"; "newspeak"; "thought crime"; "double think"; "2+2=5"; or "Room 101"; they all came out of Mr. Orwell's book "1984"!  In fact, the whole spectre of a world gone mad on rigid government control and arrogant political correctness is often now described as "Orwellian"!

When the "thought police" dictate what you do, how you do it, and even what you should think; you have arrived at "1984"!  And, should you have the audacity to ask for an explanation - "to question authority" - then you are taken to "Room 101" where:

"There are three stages in your "reintegration"... There is learning; there is understanding; there is acceptance."

Until recently - the last three months to be precise - it appeared that we had arrived at that "un-appealing" 1984 point at the NCUA. 

Here was the Agency's attitude about proposed legislation (H.R. 3461) which would permit banks and credit unions to have a formal, legal right - and defined process - to raise grievances against inappropriate examiners. NCUA Executive Director, brother Dave Marquis, had this to say - not too long ago - about NCUA's concern over potential examiner accountability......