As of 2022, REV Federal Credit Union broke the $1 billion mark. This amount is a tremendous accomplishment for the members of the Credit Union and the team. However, the true importance of this milestone is not limited to a few moments of glory and attention. Rather, the way REV crossed this threshold serves as a blueprint for other Credit Unions that may want to follow suit.
REV did not grow through its excellent customer service (which it has). Nor did it grow from having a fantastic selection of microfinancing options (which it does). Instead, REV flipped the script, introducing an entirely new take on how Credit Unions ought to function and how they should present themselves to the world.
Modern Consumers Find It Tough to Connect with Credit Unions
There’s a bit of romance about Credit Unions. The idea of David versus Goliath, rebelling against a much larger and stronger foe, is a perennial favorite. Moreover, finding strength and resilience in the community, bringing people together to achieve a common good, and the motto of “people helping people” are all attractive themes – and they’ve all been associated with Credit Unions since the 1930s.
But that’s the problem. The mentality of traditional Credit Unions has become cliché. Younger consumers want something progressive, high-tech, and brimming with personality – something with a brand. Ask someone under 40 what a Credit Union offers, and you’ll probably hear “a small bank with few offerings” or “human interaction without a good digital presence.” For the most part, that’s true.
As a result, the number of Credit Unions in the US is declining rapidly. Working together for a common benefit (i.e., being dependent on one another) does not hold people’s attention like it used to. Instead, people want to work with a company that helps them build connections and strive toward a sustainable future – a company that will help them create something new. In addition, they want to bank with a decent mobile app.
What will happen to Credit Unions? As it is, many unions under $500 million are being absorbed by the bigger ones. So, growing may be part of the answer. But numbers aside, it seems likely that mindset is more important than any specific valuation. What are the best Credit Unions doing? They are branding themselves in a way that speaks to modern consumers. They project confidence and cool, wielding an ethic of sustainability and making themselves relevant through their outsized community impact.
How REV Became $1 Billion Through Culture and Mindset
Enter REV – a new type of Credit Union looking to redefine the movement. It doesn’t just want to ensure everyone has access to banking services. Instead, it intends to build resilient communities that bounce back from adversity. In addition, it wants to grow the local economy by empowering community members to pursue whatever choices they make to maintain their holistic financial wellness.
REV has shown that a radical shift in mentality is how Credit Unions will survive. Indeed, it has grown to over $1 billion in assets and expects to keep growing for decades to come. Its secret? Everything starts with a mindset – one that every employee wears on their sleeve and lives out every day. The mindset must become the brand.
It’s All About the Brand
Credit Unions need a brand, or they have nothing. Consumers under the age of 40 perceive them as low-tech, small banks with limited offerings. So, how to overcome the stigma? In a world where banking functions are ubiquitous, the brand (the feel) of a Credit Union is what sets it apart from the competition.
Therefore, REV is not an acronym for something. Instead, the feeling of momentum propels its members forward, disrupting the market as it goes. It is a high-octane surge, ready to revivify and renew the deeply meaningful movement that has lost its vigor.
REV is an idealistic foundation that promotes equity and sustainability in every neighborhood, from the affluent to the historically disadvantaged. Furthermore, REV is edgy and innovative, willing to defy expectations and propose solutions without fear of judgment. Finally, REV is tech-savvy. It can integrate with everyone in the community and change how they work, live, and play.
In essence, REV is a balanced mix of Patagonia, Elon Musk, and Apple. It’s as much about people helping people as any traditional Credit Union, but it’s more. REV is about manifesting a mindset to effect positive change in society. It stands out, though not because of its tech, innovation, or sustainable achievements. Instead, its superpower is its team’s complete buy-in.
Human Capital: Cultivating the Mindset
REV’s approach to human capital is simple – mindset first. By cultivating a team that wholeheartedly buys into the mission and values, REV builds a talent pool where each member knows their work matters. Not only is this a form of compensation in and of itself, but it also encourages team members to look at their contribution to the Credit Union as if they were owners. They understand their training and professional development as an investment in the community they love.
In practical terms, REV is where people can operate outside their comfort zone and receive the support they need to transcend their failures – holistically. REV’s approach to training is not merely about “upskilling the drones” but about helping people expand their core competencies while cultivating their humanity.
In a sense, REV is the opposite of a toxic work environment. It values empathy, self-awareness, and a strong work ethic above petty, self-serving narcissism. As a result, the team measures its success by how much the community succeeds. Furthermore, as the communities around REV grow and evolve, so do the empathy and understanding that form the foundation of the team’s identity.
REVCares: A Case Study in Aligning Core Values to the Community’s Needs
As the pandemic closed businesses and threatened the health and livelihoods of minorities and low-income families, REV assembled an Employee & Community Engagement Team (ECE) to help other local non-profits. The ECE’s mission is to spark collaboration and create a positive company culture through giving back.
In its capacity as a Credit Union, REV deferred millions in loan balances to help people whose finances the pandemic devastated. But its commitment to the community did not stop there; REV took responsibility by assisting local businesses in many ways. Notable examples include when REV took over (unannounced!) a local grocery store and paid for everyone’s food. In addition, it paid each employee of the store $100 for willing to put their health at risk and come to work at their essential job.
Yet, REV’s employees also gave of their own time and money through the ECE. They packed over 700 lbs of food for the local food bank, prepared and delivered meals to essential workers from local food trucks, and donated money to various local charities.
REV embodies what is essential in the new normal. It’s not just about survival. Communities can thrive, but they need help. REV can provide it by encouraging local governments, businesses, and entrepreneurs to grow and take their place in a sustainable local economy.
A Bigger REV Is a Better Community
The business model of REV is not-for-profit, so every dollar it earns returns to the community to educate, invest, and give back to the people who have made the brand a part of their lives. REV prioritizes people and sees their financial well-being as its primary goal. So, as they grow, REV grows – and vice versa.
The future of REV relies on its brand and not the old clichés from the 1930s. Over the next several years, other Credit Unions may adopt the same approach by modernizing technology and aligning their internal culture with REV. In either case, the Credit Union movement could have a bright future if it embraced the idea of lifestyle rather than just small-time banking.
REV Has Set the Standard for Others to Follow
Traditional Credit Unions are in a tough spot. Over the past several years, many have merged with or been absorbed by larger Credit Unions. Unfortunately, despite the utility of Credit Unions for a considerable population that might find them easier to work with than other financial institutions, people have trouble connecting with them. Fortunately, REV has managed to disrupt the Credit Union malaise. By reconfiguring the mindset of a Credit Union away from “people helping people” toward “collaborating to build something new,” REV has laid the blueprint for Credit Unions looking to thrive.