Friday, May 26, 2023

SECU Board Letter To Staff Confirms Commenter's Observation: SECU Leadership is "A Dead Man Walking"

If the SECU Board truly wants to "provide clarity to you, the people delivering value for our members", here are 11 simple questions for the SECU Board to answer. One for each Board member, so they can add their signature!

Direct and complete answers not only will benefit the staff, but will also benefit all SECU members, the members of the greater North Carolina credit union and banking communities, the State Legislature, and, for that matter, all North Carolinians.

There is a growing Statewide skepticism as to the accuracy and authenticity of statements handed down by the SECU Board Directors. Whether it be the "bogus dialogues" of those "Fireside Chats", the faux "we're doing this only for your benefit" New Board Election Procedures hustle, the H. 410 "widows and orphans & financial deserts" charade, or the comically contradictory "non-answer answers" flung about by both the SECU Board and senior management; whatever !!!, with this memo the "B" score -  balderdash, bunkum, and baloney - meter continues at max, out of control.

SECU seems to be playing everybody for the fool, nobody is buying it - most especially the staff, legacy and otherwise!

Chairman Chris Ayers kicked off the dis-ingenuity with his infamous weasel pronouncement that: "SECU never made a formal offer to merge with LGFCU." And, it has been all downhill since, in terms of belief in the credibility of the SECU Board.

Pretty sure that SECU member-owners are a good bit less dumb than Chris Ayers believes; and of course, it's painfully obvious that Mr. Ayers is a good bit less smart than he preens himself to be. Let's take a look at this latest round of pettifoggery (look it up, you'll like it!) from the SECU Board. But fair warning! Be sure to keep in mind the first rule of propaganda: "Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth." - Joseph Goebbels [Yes, "that Goebbels" - the Nazi communications minister!].

Each paragraph has been given a high, overall "B" score rating - this is definitely not "A" paper! Most of the memo actually appears to have been written by a primitive, low grade AI Chatbox (probably some of that 1983 technology!), but if you wish to pull on your waders and slog through the muck, have at it.  The questions posed are listed below each section.  

 ✔ [To the SECU Staff - May 25, 2023]

Good morning,

 The SECU Board of Directors writes this letter to address recent conversations and rumors about the leadership and direction of our credit union. We recognize that changes bring questions and uncertainty, and we want to ensure that we provide clarity to you, the people delivering value for our members every day.

  • Board of Directors fully and unanimously stands behind Jim Hayes as CEO and is excited about his ability to lead SECU through the advancements and improvements our members demand and deserve. Jim is eminently well suited to lead SECU through the improvements needed to best serve our members and he is building a strong leadership team. When evaluating what kind of leader would be needed to effectively bring SECU into this next phase, the Board worked with a top national firm to ensure a comprehensive search, aiming to identify an experienced candidate that would meet SECU where it was and pursue change on terms that align with our mission, vision, and values. Jim Hayes was and is that leader. He is a highly qualified executive whose full background clearly demonstrates that he has the dedication, experience, and skillset to fully realize the strategic plan and deliver on our collective promise to our membership. Allegations that Jim has acted in bad faith at SECU, or at any prior organization, are reckless and false.

Q 1: What is the "next phase" to which you are bringing SECU and how did the 12 of you unilaterally decide on this "next phase" plan for SECU's 2.7 million member-owners?

Q 2: How was that "top national firm" selected?

Q 3: Which specific "allegations" against your CEO are reckless? Which are false?

  • are aware that some former leaders are positioning themselves as credible authorities on the current direction of our credit union. Though appreciative of their prior service to SECU, we are deeply disappointed by the misleading attacks on policies and on people who continue a long tradition of service to SECU — including on current management and the volunteer Board. Importantly, the confusion this causes for our employees and our members is of great concern. We are also emphatic that addressing current challenges — in this rapidly changing environment — is the responsibility of this Board and of current management. More specifically, the current and necessary technology, personnel policy, and product changes that are required are known to this Board and to current management. To be clear, SECU’s current leadership and the Board of Directors remain united in pursuing necessary improvements to better serve our members and support our employees. The advancements we are making are consistent with our mission, vision, and values, and driven by our earnest desire to “do the right thing” for our 2.7 million members. Our members’ trust and their business must be earned and maintained in the light of every new day, as times and circumstances change. Throughout constant changes in modes of delivery and products and field of membership over the past 85 years, SECU’s core commitment has been to its member/owners — all its members. This Board fully embraces our duty to continue that unwavering commitment, and any assertion to the contrary is simply incorrect.

Q 4: Does "this Board" understand that "this Board" answers to "the Membership", not its own self-interests? 

Q 5: Is there any chance that the source of employee and member confusion and concern is "this Board"? [BTW, why did you feel it necessary to italicize "this Board" - just askin'?]

Q 6: Did "this Board" make a proposal to merge with LGFCU?


  • are proud of our organization, our employees, and the unprecedented success we have experienced, but what got us here will not keep us on top. The world is rapidly changing, as are our members’ needs. We, like every Board before us, are charged with the responsibility to assess risks and competitive challenges, and to adapt so that we can remain current and responsive to our members’ needs. It is increasingly apparent we need to evolve in some significant ways to meet our members’ changing needs and expectations, from technology to competitive and convenient products and services. Our members are not immune to the increasing technological advances being offered by other institutions all around us. The fact is that member engagement has been steadily declining for a number of years, with data showing that we have not been providing the financial services our members seek. When those needs and expectations are not met, our members turn to other institutions. In fact, we know — from you — that our own employees often turn to other financial institutions to meet their lending needs. We reject the dangerous idea that SECU’s historical growth automatically means that our members are satisfied or that the way we do things should be frozen in time. Our report card is defined by how well we continue to serve our members as times change, not by how we served our members in times past.
Q 7: Would you please share with staff and members "the data" which shows a decline in member engagement?

Q 8:  By the way, just exactly what is "member engagement"?

Q 9? Could your non-competitive loan and deposit rates be hurting "member engagement"?

  • welcome innovation. We know you do too. New technological developments, such as mobile apps and modern back-office software, allow us to better serve our members and make our employees’ jobs easier. SECU installed “Bob White,” our principal core system, over 40 years ago, decades before the internet and cell phones took over modern life. Many other core systems are likewise due for replacement. SECU’s prior strategy focused on avoiding major technology changes, but that strategy is no longer viable in today’s world. We must modernize the way we serve our members or we will be left behind. While our core systems have served us well, we owe it to our members and employees to undertake the hard, expensive, and necessary work to put in place systems that are designed to function in the modern world. Newer, more modern technology will improve our members’ experience and our employee experience. We need to make it easier for you to do your job. Holding onto old manual processes does not provide a great experience for anyone. And as we adopt these new technologies, we will see increased expense — we are addressing decades of catch-up all at once, even as the rate of change in technology accelerates. It is critical that we now make these investments for our members and employees. 
Q 10? Who is against innovation? [For the record, this malarkey received the highest "B" score for inanity ever recorded!]

  • the same time, we recognize the incredible value our branch network delivers to our members. Our branch network is the envy of every credit union in the country and is one of the things that makes SECU so special. That will not change. Digital innovation will complement — never replace — our branch network. 

  Q 11: Why doesn't your branch staff believe you?

  • closing, we want to make five things perfectly clear:
    • We are committed to our 2.7 million members and have no intentions of leaving anyone behind.
    • We are committed to remaining a credit union and to our longstanding Mission Statement. We have no desire or intention to become a bank or operate like a bank.
    • We are committed to providing a great place to work for our employees, including stronger benefits, a great culture, and a safe place to work.
    • We are committed to our core values and to the integrity of our “People Helping People” belief. We will not pay our employees based on commission. We want our employees to do what is best for the member.
    • We are committed to the leadership we have in place to achieve these goals and to move SECU into the future.     

 👍 Can't argue with much of this. Another AI Chatterbox! Actions always speak louder than words and the on the ground decline at SECU is deafening! There is growing agreement among staff and the members, however, that "this Board" does need to be committed., a word about the function and work of the Board. We are volunteers who often spend 15 or more hours a month in meetings, discussions, and research on SECU matters. This is an enormous organization and the job of a Director is important, rewarding, and difficult. Our primary tasks include ensuring succession planning, directing the work of the CEO, risk management and regulatory compliance, and looking ahead to assess and address risks and opportunities regarding service to all our members, as well as strong provisions for all employees. We — like any good Board and as SECU Boards of Directors have done for decades — are constantly evaluating a range of matters, from decisions about our IT system to real estate investments, products, field of membership, compliance, etc. For example, discussions about field of membership and business services have taken place for years and years, with spirited examinations among Board and management. Changes have been made over time in the field of membership and changes have been sought by this and prior Boards with respect to creation of a modest system of business services. This process of wide-ranging examination is the job of a Board, and we salute and honor SECU’s prior Boards as we follow in their tradition of active engagement in consideration of options and responsibilities. 

😎Translation: "Years and years..." We got caught with our hands in the cookie jar on open membership and have not yet figured out a way to cover our tracks. "This Board" may say: "We never made a formal proposal to expand membership."  Do you think that will fool "them"?? 

Q Bonus!!:  Did "this Board" discuss the use of SECU Foundation donations as a "vehicle" to let anyone join SECU? [Note: Don't ask Mr. Fleming , he claims he "doesn't know anything about that"!] Board remains focused on the future of SECU and the well-being of our credit union, our members, and our employees. We know you may have further questions on our strategic plan, and to that end, we are including FAQs of some of the key questions we have observed on the plan and our direction. Please carefully review the FAQs, which provide factual answers to the most common questions.

 👎"Factual" answers are hard to find in the FAQ's, as are specific details from the "strategic plan", but granted the rhetoric is deep and fertile. Will try to get it out to the blog in a day or so. Need to compost it first. you have any other questions on any of these updates, please share with and we assure you they will be shared with us. We thank you for your continued dedication in serving SECU’s members.

😎 Definitely a triple B-meter score for fake transparency! Why doesn't"this" Board set up a blog! Members could submit questions to you publicly and you could answer them publicly! Just a thought. 


😎 "Best"? Best what? Not certain members agree with this either... 

 ["this"] SECU Board of Directors  

✔ [End of transmission.]


...but please repeat, and then repeat, and then repeat, and then...