Listened to a presentation at a SEANC* Board meeting over the weekend. The presenter was the Chief Operations Officer of SECU, Leigh Brady. Ms. Brady had in tow - apparently for support - SECU Board member Mark Fleming, who smiled and waved but remained silent.
Ms. Brady's report highlighted many upcoming changes in technology at SECU. Those changes sounded positive, but were improvements mainly in the area of digital convenience for members - quicker, some ease of use refinements, a few new "bells and whistles" - but no major new programs or services for SECU members. SECU COO Brady did admit, a bit sheepishly, that these changes were going to take "several years" to implement - a quite different and far more accurate account than the "California Dreamin"-hype and hypocrisy put forth in those infamous "Fireside Chats" last November. Ms. Brady also touched on the recent NCR "✈jet set ✈ digital deal" - no jet lag was obvious.
In response to a story from a SEANC Board member on the benefits of the tax prep program to her grandmother and others, Ms. Brady gave a tough luck it's not coming back response. To several impassioned personal accounts on the adverse impact of risk-based lending at SECU, Ms. Brady heme-and-hawed to a "I'll take a look at it" response, but that she'll actually do nothing was clear. French queen Marie Antoinette could not have said it better.
In the political realm, Ms. Brady assured the SEANC Board that H. 410 "was not SECU's bill"- she was just trying to help out other credit unions in North Carolina. That statement will come as a surprise to many legislators, lobbyists, N.C. credit union leaders, and many SECU members and staff. Would appear that SECU would now like to stick Dan Schline, CEO of the Carolinas Credit Union League, with the fallout from the potential defeat of this high-risk legislation. Getting crowded under the bus, but room can be made for Dan!
Ms. Brady summed up by categorically stating that SECU had no plans to expand membership. None, no way, not-a-bit! Mark Fleming, the SECU Board member, seemed to cheer on those remarks, raising no objections. After the meeting, I introduced myself to Mr. Fleming and asked if he were aware of the increasing controversy arising over SECU? He said "he had gotten 2 or 3 emails". I pointed out to Mr. Fleming that the current SECU CEO had stated unequivocally to advisory board leaders that SECU did in fact have plans to expand [here (again!) is SECU's own Fireside Chats video at 22:21 - "We would like to, we would like to expand our field of membership..."].
But the real cruncher to Mr. Fleming was I informed him that I both knew and could document that he personally sat through several Board discussions on expanding membership at SECU. Most egregiously was the discussion - in which Mr. Fleming was directly involved - of using the SECU Foundation as the vehicle to expand SECU membership willy-nilly. The scheme being if any person in the world chose to make a donation to the SECU Foundation, then that "anybody and everybody" individual (or corporation under H. 410!) would be eligible to join SECU. Mr. Fleming said: "Well, I don't know anything about that." Yes he does!
Something is sorely wrong at SECU. Especially if, SECU Board members are endorsing public statements by senior staff to SEANC members which simply aren't true, as happened this weekend.
... and even worse, if the SECU Board and senior staff are coercing front line staff - in fear of their jobs - into remaining silent about what is actually coming down at SECU. What's "coming down" are assets, member service, employee morale, and a hard-earned reputation of trust.
And, Mr. Fleming, a "Well, I don't know anything about that" defense isn't going to hold up in the court of public opinion, especially when it is well-documented that you in fact do know better.
* SEANC = State Employees Association of North Carolina