The Cooperators Podcast Episode 12 David Gill Marquette Brewing, Drink Up

by Robert McGarvey

Mark your calendar. Late June is when Marquette Brewing in Michigan is slated to open, making it one of around 10 cooperative breweries in the US.

That number isn’t big but just about all these co-ops have formed in recent years. It’s a growing sector.

Understand, Marquette is a small town, population maybe 25,000, in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula.  There’s not a lot of population to draw upon in forming a new co-op but over 200 have joined Marquette Brewing, ponying up $99 apiece.

All in the co-op has raised over $200,000.

An important takeaway from this podcast is how much help other co-operatives have given Marquette Brewing. The co-operative principles really work.

Another takeaway: the rich information board president David Gill shares about this co-op’s journey to opening. He gives what amounts to a how to blueprint.

Great stuff.  Drink up.

Listen to this podcast here.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

How Credit Unions Can Win the Fees Fight

By Robert McGarvey

Want to pick a fight you should win? Everytime? Even when battling the biggest banks?

That’s a real probability for credit unions that pounce on an opportunity that could bring them notice of their generally lower fees by consumers hunting for a financial institution that clicks exactly that box.

Surf over to TrueFees and ponder the possibilities. Founder Ben Premo is building out a consumer facing search site where consumers in many cases would find their better deal will be a credit union and that is because Premo lets the consumer search for a financial institution by any of 10 different fees, from monthly service fees to overdraft fees, even foreign wire transfers.

Premo said that when he’s looked for that info on financial institution websites, maybe half of the banks he’s investigated did not post that info or if they did, it wasn’t readily visible.

Credit unions – most of which still offer free checking – are much more transparent about their fees or lack thereof.  But even credit unions may be less than forthcoming about fees for wire transfers, cashier’s checks, and similar.

So he set about building TrueFees where a consumer can input a zipcode and be shown the institutions with the best deals.

He also said he is looking for credit unions that want to partner with him, paying a fee only when a consumer actually opens an account.  There’s no charge to get entered into the database. “Truefees will bring exposure to financial institutions with low charges,” says Premo.

Right now, digital only banks are the primary players at TrueFees but Premo is insistent he wants to change that by adding info about more credit unions.

That is a possible way to change today’s playing field which is one where the big institutions generally win.

Most new checking accounts open at the predictable, mammoth institutions, the ones with big marketing budgets and lots of TV advertising.  Are they the best deal for an average consumer?

Absolutely not, certainly not for the 98% of us.  

At Chase, Total Checking costs $12 monthly. It can be free if the consumer maintains a checking balance that never dips below $1500, or $5000 in linked accounts (such as savings).  That sounds good until you remember that four in five of us say they live paycheck to paycheck.  You might as well tell them the minimum balance for free checking is $1 million.  They can’t manage $1500 any better than that million.

The consumer’s best chance at free checking with Chase is to arrange a recurring automatic deposit of at least $500 monthly. That will do it. But not everybody has an employer or similar willing to play along.  

So get ready to pony up $12 monthly.

At Affinity Federal Credit Union in New Jersey – where I do most of my checking – a checking account is free. No minimum balance required.  

At Chase the overdraft fee is $34.  Affinity charges $33.

But a growing number of digital banks and some credit unions, said Premo, charge nothing or a nominal fee for overdrafts.  If overdrafts are a personal problem, look for a provider with small or no fees and that’s where the TrueFees search tool will prove valuable.

Don’t be shy, either.  In 2017, overdraft fees paid by Americans hit $34.3 billion – that’s billions. It’s money that does not need to be spent.  (Grain Technology, by the way, has a tool that could absolutely end overdrafts. Hear the podcast here.)

Fee specificity, by the way, is an obvious hook for TrueFees: the consumer can drill down to exactly what fees interest him/her. Personally I have never wired money abroad so fees for that are inconsequential to me but for those who regularly wire money abroad – and I know people who do that to India, the Philippines, Mexico, and in years past, Ireland – it’s potentially easy to hunt for nearby institutions with attractive charges for foreign wires.

A plus for the consumer who uses TrueFees to find and open a new account is that TrueFees will put a $25 bonus in the consumer’s pocket.

Check out TrueFees. It just may be a smart way to find a game where credit unions are destined to win because most truly offer the better deal.

A CU2.0 podcast with Ben Premo where he talks at length about TrueFees posts in mid May 2019. Find it here.

CU2.0 Podcast Episode 32 Mike Edwards WOCCU on International Trends

Quick now, what country has the highest participation in credit unions? Say the US and you are wong. According to Mike Edwards, senior vice president for advocacy at the World Council of Credit Unions, it’s Ireland, north and south, where 70% belong.

In this podcast he tells why that participation is so high.

He also tells why many regulatory matters in the US in fact originate overseas – risk based capital, Bank Secrecy Act requirements, AML, and more got their start overseas and that is why Edwards spends much of his time monitoring and attempting to influence regulations overseas.

What happens in Basel does not stay in Basel.  It may and probably will wind up in the US.

Listen in. You’ll learn a lot in this podcast

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

Find out more about CU2.0 and the digital transformation of credit unions here. It’s a journey every credit union needs to take. Pronto

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 11 Mike Reuter on Credit Unions

From the Ukraine to Ireland and Dominica, this podcast travels the globe with Mike Reuter, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, as he shares stories of the challenges faced by credit unions and also the generous willingness of other credit unions executives to help. Exhibit one may be the rebuilding of the Dominica credit union sector after that island’s economy was flattened in a 2017 hurricane.  Credit union execs want to help and they do.

You may think credit unions don’t know that they are in fact cooperatives. I know I think exactly that often and it is frustrating because the nation’s 5000 credit unions could do a lot to advance the whole cooperative movement.

It turns out however that, per Reuter, credit unions in fact do a lot of cooperating. He tells that story in this podcast.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 10 Chuck Conner NCFC on Farmers and Cooperatives

No country produces the agricultural bounty that the US does. We eat better, at lower costs, than anywhere else – and most of that food is produced through farmer owned cooperatives. That’s why you want to meet Chuck Conner, CEO of NCFC, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

Ask Conner what the number one issue facing his members is and the answer is blunt: immigration. The estimate is that the nation’s farms are worked on by over one million workers lacking proper documentation to work legally in the United States. Take them away and, poof, there goes the agricultural bounty because those workers comprise over half of the workforce on farms.

“Congress can’t seem to grapple with this,” said Conner and he chose his words carefully. But also honestly.

Conner also tells in this podcast why a generation ago it was not common to proudly wave the flag of a farmers cooperative – and today that fact is proudly pronounced as more consumers want to know what where their food comes from.

Want to know how to keep eating right? Listen to this podcast as Conner takes us on a tour of agri-business for the past century.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

CU2.0 Podcast Episode 31 Mike Reuter Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions

From the Ukraine to Ireland and Dominica, this podcast travels the globe with Mike Reuter, executive director of the Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions, as he shares stories of the challenges faced by credit unions and also the generous willingness of other credit unions executives to help. Exhibit one may be the rebuilding of the Dominica credit union sector after that island’s economy was flattened in a 2017 hurricane.  Credit union execs want to help and they do. It’s an inspiring podcast that shines a light on what’s special about credit unions. 

Stay tuned. In a week or two a second podcast will post with another WOCCU executive as we travel around the world to see the challenges internationally and how the US fits in.


Listening to “CU2.0 Podcast Episode 31 Mike Reuter Worldwide Foundation for Credit Unions” at https://www.buzzsprout.com/268738/1032952-cu2-0-podcast-episode-31-mike-reuter-worldwide-foundation-for-credit-unions

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

Find out more about CU2.0 and the digital transformation of credit unions here. It’s a journey every credit union needs to take. Pronto

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 9 Stuart Reid Food Co-Op Initiative

Want to control what you eat? Of course you do. Join a food co-op and become a member-owner.

Across the country there are maybe 350 to 400 food co-ops and, said Stuart Reid, executive director of the Food Co-op Initiative, many more are attempting to form. That’s his turf. The organization has helped some 140 food co-ops form in the past 11 years. Reid knows what a co-op needs to do to actually open and he tells how in this podcast.

A lot has to do with money but Reid tells how many would-be food co-ops are finding support from governments at various levels. That’s encouraging.

He also tells why food co-ops matter. It comes down to really serving the community and that’s what food co-ops do.

This podcast is everything you always wanted to know about grocery co-ops but didn’t know whom to ask. Ask Stuart Reid – that’s what I did and he gives the details.

In spots the audio quality is scratchy. It’s audible but it may sound like an old vinyl record on a wobbly turntable. Sorry. Just the vagaries of Voip.

Try and you’ll hear it all fine.

Listen up.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.

CU2.0 Podcast Episode 30 Brett King on Banking Tomorrow

You don’t want to listen to this podcast.

But you need to.

What banking futurist Brett King paints is a dystopian picture of financial services tomorrow where, increasingly, consumers want frictionless money transactions, they don’t give a hoot about banks vs. non banks, and they have no interest in a relationship with a one stop financial services provider.

Credit unions still think they are special. Think again, warns King.

What matters today is digital. Period. Sure, King, as the founder of digital bank Moven, has a bias.

But he very probably is right.

Financial institutions are getting left behind as the biggest banks get bigger – lots bigger – and fintechs gobble up profitable slices of the financial services pie.

Along the way in this provocative conversation, King talks about the new Apple credit card, why Apple Pay has stalled, and the inevitability of real time banking.

It’s a look into tomorrow.

And, yes, it may sound like a horror film.

But at least when you know what’s ahead you can start preparing for it.

Listen here.

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

Find out more about CU2.0 and the digital transformation of credit unions here. It’s a journey every credit union needs to take. Pronto.

CU 2.0 Podcast Episode 29: Freeborn on “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union”

$100 million. That’s the projected three year budget for the CUNA “Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union” campaign.

Teresa Freeborn, CEO of Xceed Financial Credit Union, chairs the CUNA effort which she – make no mistake – sees as crucial in the longterm survival and prosperity of credit unions.

The campaigns blends research with marketing – much of it online – to reach out to a generation of consumers that simply may not even consider credit unions as a financial services option.

Ouch. It hurts to be ignored. But that is a credit union reality and that also is the why of the CUNA campaign.

A central mission of the campaign: raising consumer awareness of the benefits of credit unions as a different, better category of financial services providers. That’s ambitious. But it just may be critical in the industry’s survival.

In this podcast Freeborn tells the story of the campaign’s launch, it’s current status, and it’s hoped for future. She also blends in her perspective as the longtime CEO of a large credit union.

Listen up – your survival may depend on it.

Podcast here.

The Cooperators Podcast Episode 8 Alex Stone CooperationWorks!

Alex Stone’s business is this: helping new cooperatives to start and helping existing ones to mature and do better. That’s the core mission of CooperationWorks! where she serves as executive director.

How is she doing? The podcast opens with a simple question: how many new co-ops form in a year?  Stone explains exactly why that question is a lot harder to answer than you might think.

For Stone cooperatives got into her being early, during her student days at UC Berkeley where she lived in co-op housing and was also involved in a food collective.

Cooperatives, she saw, just work better in many cases.

That’s why she relishes her role in helping all kinds of cooperatives and in this wide ranging podcast she discusses worker owned cooperatives, housing co-ops, grocery co-ops and a lot more.

A key CooperationWorks! function is providing training to would-be cooperators and also board members. We just aren’t born knowing how to prosper in a cooperative system – but we can learn how to do it.

Another role of the organization is gathering data about co-ops but, as Stone readily admits, data is slim in many cases.

Buckle up for a fast ride into cooperatives today and tomorrow.

Like what you are hearing? The Cooperators Podcast seeks sponsors and supporters to help us spread the word about cooperatives and how they often are the better way. Contact Robert McGarvey to find out what you can do to sustain this podcast.