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Medical Debt: The #1 Reason Your Members Go Bankrupt and How Credit Unions Can Help

George Hofheimer, former EVP of Filene, joins The Remarkable Credit Union

Should credit unions care about medical debt? Can they help alleviate it?

George Hofheimer, former EVP of Filene (and a former podcast guest), would answer both questions with a resounding YES. He joins us to talk about why medical debt is such a serious threat to credit union members’ financial wellness, where the opportunity lies for credit unions, and what he’s learned by bicycling across America to raise awareness around this vital issue.

 

Key takeaways

  • RIP Medical Debt is able to buy bad loans covering medical debt and leverage donations 100 to 1 to help consumers restore their finances. You can donate to George’s campaign for RIP Medical Debt or contact him at george@hofheimer.org.To learn more about the crippling consequences of medical debt, check out a film called Side Effects on the costs of cancer, funded by the NCUF.
  • Credit unions are good as financial first responders and looking at first-order effects, but medical debt is a second- or third-order effect. It’s like finding out how many members are using check cashers or payday lenders — it takes work to go find this data and take action on it.
  • Can credit unions change the world? Yes, and it goes beyond medical debt. Here are three other areas of opportunity:
    1. Look at the needs of women
    2. Think about sustainability in terms of your full balance sheet: not just financial assets, but also community relationships
    3. Use technology acceleration from C19 to build more personal and human relationships, not just emulate Bank of America

Read the full transcript:

Cameron Madill:
Hello, and welcome to another episode of The Remarkable Credit Union Podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about marketing, technology, and community impact. Each episode we bring on expert guests for conversations about innovation. Our goal is always to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual and provide you with actionable takeaways that you can use to grow your membership, improve the financial health of your cooperative, and magnify the positive impacts you have in your community. Today’s big question. If medical debt makes up over 50% of all bankruptcies in America, why do we talk about it so little, and what can credit unions do about it?

Cameron Madill:
All right. Today I am very excited to welcome George Hofheimer, who is calling us from a tiny hotel room in Texas. For those of you who know George, he is the former EVP of Filene Research Institute. He was the chief research and development officer. And I had George on here once before, and he was a fabulous guest. But right now he’s in the middle of this incredible odyssey of biking, not on a motorbike. On a bicycle, all the way across America. So he’s going to tell us a little more about some of his current ventures and passions, as well as the adventure that he is on.

Cameron Madill:
George, thanks for joining us today.

George Hofheimer:
Yeah. Cameron, it’s good to hear a friendly voice. Yeah, it’s great to be here. I think as a lot of people know I left my job at Filene late last year and I’ve decided to go off on my own. But in the interim, and just kind of the world the way it is, decided to kind of think about an epic adventure that I’ve always wanted to go on. And the timing seemed to be right with the public health situation, my family situation, and all that kind of stuff. So I’d always wanted to bike across the US so I took the opportunity starting on March 4th to dip my back tire of my bicycle in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego. And hopefully by the end of April, I’ll dip my front tire and the Atlantic Ocean in St. Augustine, Florida. So currently I’m about 16, 1700 miles into the journey and things are going well.

Cameron Madill:
It’s incredible. And can you tell us a little bit about what have you learned about America biking almost 2000 miles across it?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah, I think the first thing that I’ve learned is Texas is an extremely big state. I think I’m day 16 or 17 in Texas. Depending on where I go tomorrow, I may be entering Louisiana, which should be exciting. But honestly, the second thing is the types of interactions in places that I’ve had are things that I would never really normally have. And staying at RV parks, camping and municipal parks, bandit camping on picnic areas, on the side of a highway in Texas, and you just get to meet a ton of people and you just get to engage. Most people are not very curious about what I’m doing. They’re just like, that sounds really stupid or hard. But a lot of the other people are just really interesting and you get to just have some cool interactions with people, and you learn a little bit about where they came from and what their interests are. And generally, people are just amazing. So that’s one of the things that I’ve learned.

George Hofheimer:
And then, it’s just such a great way to see the country. And I know that a lot of people think they can’t or won’t travel this way, but it’s really amazing, especially this time of year in the Southern part of the US just to see how the landscape changes, how the greenery and everything changes, the seasons change. It’s just kind of a magical type of thing that I’ve never experienced before.

Cameron Madill:
By the way, actually your trip does sound kind of like stupid and crazy, but also amazing. So I think all those people you’ve met are correct. I’m very impressed.

George Hofheimer:
I would agree. I would agree.

Cameron Madill:
So I first heard about this when you did some outreach and planning for your trip, and I was really impressed that… I guess I would expect this from you, but you’re not just doing this for yourself. You’ve linked it to a cause that you become really passionate about, which is closely connected to what credit unions can, and it seems like you think should be doing more of in this particular area. Can you tell us about the cause or connected to?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah. So when I embarked on this, it was obviously something personal that I wanted to do. But I also wanted to link it to something where perhaps we could raise awareness or do some behavior change in the industry that I’ve worked in for the past 25 years, consumer finance, and specifically credit unions. And had some interesting conversations with my former colleagues at Filene and some of the work that they’re doing on healthcare costs and consumer finance. And then, more specifically with the National Credit Union Foundation and some of their work on the financial costs of cancer.

George Hofheimer:
Andy Janning is working on a really interesting documentary that’s being released in bits and pieces on the financial costs of cancer called Side Effects. And just got to thinking about that topic. And then as a researcher, started to research a little bit more and pulled out some pretty interesting statistics about what’s the number one reason that individuals file for personal bankruptcy in the United States? It’s medical debt. And then, that led me to remember a segment that I saw on the John Oliver show a few years ago on that topic, which led me to this really interesting nonprofit called RIP Medical Debt, and decided to use them as the opportunity to, number one, raise funds. But then, number two, to raise awareness about the costs on the personal level of medical expenses and what it can do to people’s personal finances.

Cameron Madill:
And so I’d love to hear more about that, specifically. But just to celebrate a little bit, how much money did you end up raising, and what’s the impact going to be on consumers through this non-profit?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah. So the original goal… Actually, my original goal was $5,000. And then when I talked to RIP, they’re like the minimum we do is 15. So I’m like, oh. This is going to be hard. And within a week and a half, I had met that fundraising goal through the generosity of dozens of people. And since then we have passed $31,000 in funding, which is really impressive. But based on my experience with Filene and the fundraising that I did there, it’s kind of a small amount. But the really cool thing about RIP Medical Debt and the reason that I wanted to work with them is that they are able to leverage every dollar of donation into a hundred dollars of debt written off.

George Hofheimer:
So this is where I think the real interesting opportunity for credit unions arises, is that rip is made up of former debt collectors. So they understand how the market works. And typically, the typical scenario, Cameron, would be you either have insurance that’s not really great, or you don’t have insurance. You go to a clinic and you get something done. From a medical perspective, it costs a couple of grand. You can’t pay for it. Then that clinic will try and collect on it for a month, maybe two, maybe three. And then they’ll say, you know what? This is bad debt. I’m going to sell that debt, that $2,000, to debt collectors. So the debt collectors buy that $2,000 for pennies on the dollar. And then they harass you. They harangue you for however long it takes with the hopes that they get more than they paid for that debt.

George Hofheimer:
What RIP does is they’re savvy in that they are the former debt collectors, so they come with a pot of money to all of these people that own the debt that represents individual’s medical bills. And they say, okay, we’re going to buy that pot of debt that’s worth a million dollars for $10,000. Take it or leave it. So that they know what the price bears. So the thing I love about it is that it’s kind of using Wall Street’s logic against itself.

George Hofheimer:
So in the case of this fundraiser, as of now with $31,000 raised, we’ll be able to write off $3.1 million of medical debt for individuals in the United States. And at the end of the fundraiser, I won’t get the individual’s names, but I’ll get the characteristics of who they are. And RIP only writes off the debt of individuals that meet certain criteria, which tend to be people that are in underserved communities, or kind of on the edge of bankruptcy, or this debt represents a certain large percentage of their overall income. And then what they do is that they individually contact these people and they send them a letter and they say, “Congratulations, we just wrote off your debt. You have no more obligations.” And people think it’s like an April Fool’s joke. That’s kind of how it works. So I was really excited about raising the $31,000 so far, but that actually is $3.1 million, which is really kind of cool.

Cameron Madill:
I’ve been reading some of those stories, George. I got on their email list after doing my own small piece to support. And the stories are incredible. People just talking about the impact that has on them. But I don’t understand all the ins and outs. What does this mean? Because I imagine these consumers might have other kinds of debt, or this is one piece of many things that they’re dealing with. What concretely happens to those people who get their debt forgiven? Is it just limited to this? Is there anything more?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah, it’s just limited to this. And I thought that the connection for credit unions is that number one, they do not engage in any kind of activity in the debt markets for medical debt. So basically, what this outstanding debt represents is a real barrier for credit unions, because these are individuals if not for medical debt, they’d be able to purchase a car and finance it through the credit union, purchase a home and finance it through the credit union, get a credit card and finance it through the credit union. But for the medical debt, their credit is impaired. They have less assets. They have less savings. They have tremendous amount of financial stress. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of some of these collection calls. So it’s an oblique or indirect connection to credit unions. But it’s one that I think is important that we, probably, as an industry haven’t thought about.

George Hofheimer:
And like I said, NCUF and Filene are doing a really good job of raising the awareness, but I wanted to use this fundraiser as an opportunity to kind of talk about some things that we can actually do. And thinking about my vision for this was, okay, this will be an interesting fundraiser. Maybe some people get interested, and maybe a handful of credit unions in their local communities will say, “We need to do this for people in our specific community.” My fundraiser is just kind of a national one. But let’s just say, take a specific credit union in Portland, Oregon. And they say, “We want to raise $20,000 to write off medical debt for people that live in these zip codes.” That’s $2 million of medical debt that could be written off for a credit union in Portland, Oregon, where they know that most of their members live.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah. Well, you beat me to the punch. That’s exactly what I was thinking of. It must be wonderful to get this note from RIP medical debt, but I can imagine the impact if, yeah, you were to hear that it’s a credit union in your community that, this solely as part of their cooperative mission. To go beyond just their members, but to really think about their community. And is it possible, George, that this kind of thing… I’m sure there’s lots of privacy concerns, but wouldn’t it be amazing if a credit union could… Like, I hear about the credit unions that will go basically cross reference their lists of transactions and see which members are using payday lenders, and then they’ll contact the members and try to help them refinance those at much better rates. I know this always gets sticky, right? Because it gets into like… It’s very sticky. It’s very personal, and all the shame around emotion and debt. But would it be possible for a credit union to figure out, do we have members who would qualify? And to be able to target this, not just at their community, but directly at their members?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah. I asked RIP Medical Debt about that, and they said not really, for the reason that you had mentioned, from a privacy perspective. So they can’t identify individuals beforehand. And the way that they can leverage 100 to 1 type of thing is that they buy a huge traunch from an agency. So when you buy that traunch, you just don’t know who’s in that traunch from an individual perspective. Afterwards they do, because then they own the debt and then they forgive the debt. But beforehand it’s not possible.

Cameron Madill:
You would be able to focus it, as you said, on a particular community or geography?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah. If you look on the RIP site, there’s a variety of like mine that are just kind of national. And then there’s some that are really, hyper-local, like there’s a lot of churches that focus in on their specific county, or other types of community players that have a specific target or demographic that they’re targeting.

Cameron Madill:
I guess… I’m curious then, George. Because as you know, as someone who’s led a lot of these and attend a lot. I like to attend credit union events, usually standing in the back. And I don’t think I’ve ever really heard this topic raised in, I don’t know, dozens of events I’ve been to. Why… If this is 50% of all American personal bankruptcies, why do you think this doesn’t really have a place in the spotlight?

George Hofheimer:
Because I think it’s kind of a second or third order effect for consumer finance. And I think credit unions do a really good job of being the… I love the term that they’ve identified recently, as financial first responders. So kind of fixing people or just kind of helping people along the way, on a more direct perspective and less on the indirect perspective. So that’s why I thought that this was quite interesting. And it kind of reminds me of a project that my former colleague and the CEO of Filene, Mark Meyer, did when he first came to Filene about 20 years ago around check cashing and payday lending, and talking about the need for those services. And he went across the country and talked about the need and shared all the data.

George Hofheimer:
And then the reaction from credit unions was that’s really interesting, but none of our members use payday lenders. None of our members use check cashing facilities. And one of the really ingenious things Mark did was… And the team that was working on it, but Mark was leading it. Was to illustrate how you can go and pull records to illustrate that, “Yes, this is impacting your members.” And in fact, some of the early work that we did in that, or Mark did in that was to illustrate that, actually, credit union employees were using payday lenders and check cashers because they were not being paid enough.

George Hofheimer:
So when I think about, looking back at history, now a lot of credit unions do offer those types of services. Not a tremendous amount, but sometimes it just takes a little bit of an outside perspective to get people thinking about that. And I would imagine the vast majority of credit unions will say, “Okay, I’m aware of that, but I’m not sure I’m going to do anything.” But my goal would be to have the handful of credit unions that say, “This is a big problem. And we need to figure out how to fix that.”

Cameron Madill:
That’s amazing that… I didn’t realize Mark and you all were behind that. I think I heard a case study. It might’ve been from the National Credit Union Foundation that was… It was a very small credit union, but they were doing just that. They were just looking up records of transactions and it became clear to them that the scale of members, that doesn’t surprise me, employees who are engaged in that. But I think you’re right. We can be, just as a business, we can be blind to this.

Cameron Madill:
I know that I had a similar thing. We had an employee who used a payday lender after a lot of the tax refunds came in a lot smaller than expected in 2017. And I only knew it was a payday lender because I’d just done the DE training program through the foundation. And so I got this call from One Main Street Financial, I think it was, and I think I would have just before kind of been like, “Yep. So-and-so works here. Yep. They’re employed.” You know, it was just a very perfunctory kind of validation of… Verification of information. But it really kind of drove home to me, and that inspired us to set up the employee small dollar loans thing, which I had probably been a little bit blind to as well. Kind of like, “Oh. Well, we don’t have that here.”

Cameron Madill:
I’m curious, what else have you learned? I mean, this is going to be great. Right? Who else gets to link riding a bike 2000 miles and consumer finance than you right now. But I feel like you’ve seen a slice of America that you wouldn’t have seen normally, because you would have been back at home on Zoom calls, whatever you were doing during the first part of the pandemic. But what do you feel like you’ve seen illuminated despite your rich background in this sort of more firsthand experience?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah. So initially I thought that I would do this solo. So I knew my dad was meeting me. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law met me for a few days in New Mexico where they live. But other than that, I thought I would just kind of be on my own. And over the course of the past few weeks, it feels like we’re a force Scump. We’re now a Peloton of eight riders that all just met up on the road. Two of the guys knew each other. And it’s really, once again, people that I never would have met and it’s kind of turning into like a… It’s really interesting. Initially, I didn’t talk to them about the fundraiser that I’m doing. Another guy is doing a fundraiser for an animal shelter. But when I talked to them, and obviously we have hours and hours together every day, it’s really interesting.

George Hofheimer:
People from all walks of life. In this group are two 20 year olds. One of whom, interestingly, graduated high school with my son. It’s just like… You just think, “How can that happen?” We’ve got an an EMS firefighter. We’ve got a guy who is, half the year, a waiter. Half the year, he’s in Baja California kite surfing. We’ve got an alcohol distributor. We’ve got all different kinds of people. When they heard about this, and I kind of talked a little bit about it, each of them had a little bit of a story to tell about the financial impacts of medical costs. In some cases, not their own individual experiences, but friends or family members. And that’s really taught me a lot, is that kind of raising that issue, a lot of people have this problem emerging in their lives.

George Hofheimer:
But then, one of the other things is kind of non-financial, consumer finance related, is the freedom to just get out there and do something that really challenges yourself is something that is very scary. I had three really good friends see me off in San Diego, three guys that I played soccer with in college. And it was great. And then as soon as I left, I was so scared because I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to the next ocean by myself. I’ve never done this before. I know how to change a flat tire, but what happens if something really bad goes wrong? Or what happens when I drive on the interstate?” Which, I’ve had to do a few times.

George Hofheimer:
And it’s really interesting when you do put yourself out there, may seem cliche, but there’s a real opportunity to learn just about yourself and the world around you by putting yourself in extremely uncomfortable positions. And I’m glad I did it. And I know that I’ll have some really interesting learnings over the next several weeks as well, and would really encourage others to get out there in their own little way to just kind of make themselves feel uncomfortable and grow.

Cameron Madill:
I think it’s really inspirational. And it makes me think of Mark Meyers, the CEO of Filene, wrote this really touching farewell to you. I think it was something like… Right? George Hofheimer, lifelong explorer, prepares for his next adventure. And I think you’re certainly doing that. I’m curious what’s coming next for you in your life and your career?

George Hofheimer:
Well, as soon as I’m done, I’m wanted back home by my wife. So that’s important. I don’t know if this is of interest to anyone that’s listening to this podcast, but she actually just got a call from an Annunciation House in El Paso. I think you provided that reference, Cameron, to provide legal aid and services on the borderlands for the next month. Yeah. So for the month of… Middle of May to the middle of June I’m going to be down there with her, just kind of living in El Paso. But beyond that, starting in the second half of the year, I’m going to be launching my own venture. Working title is Hofheimer Strategy Advisors, where I hope to work with aspirational credit unions that aspire to really change the world, and work with them and help them on projects that really kind of break the barriers of what a credit union can or will do in the world.

George Hofheimer:
And I’m really excited to get started on that, and just having outside perspectives and outside voices to help with really difficult problems or really unique opportunities is something that’s beneficial for all organizations. And just based on my experiences at Filene, and before that at CUES, and before that, overseas, I think I can offer something to credit unionS. So that’s kind of what I hope to do going into the future. Although looking at some of my bike partners, I may just end up in the Baja kite surfing with Johnny from Maine, who’s one of my co-bikers. He reminds me of, for anyone that’s of my age, he reminds me of Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High. So, he’s kind of like that. So he has a hold on everyone. He wants everyone to live his life. But I probably won’t. I’ll probably stay within credit unions.

Cameron Madill:
Speaking of the future, just more broadly, that’s very cool to hear where you’re headed professionally. But one of things I’ve always really just valued about knowing you is you’re so curious and you’re so connected to such a… Very deep in the credit union industry, but also very great breadth across so many different sectors, hence kind of this RIP Medical Debt thing. I guess you’re a explorer, as Mark Meyer said. What do you get excited about when you think about some of the opportunities for credit unions, as you said, to change the world? There’s so much innovation happening, but what are you personally most excited about?

George Hofheimer:
I’m excited about three specific things. I’ll start with more specifics, just in terms of opportunities. I think one of the real opportunities for credit unions is to focus in on the needs of women, financial needs of women, specifically. The vast majority of household financial decisions are made by women and driven by women. But most of the product set and marketing and communications is either targeted generally, or not specifically towards women. So I think that that’s a huge opportunity.

George Hofheimer:
Second is however you want to define the concept of sustainability or corporate social responsibility. I think credit unions do a passable job within their communities. But generally speaking, it’s just not strategic. So I would be really interested in working with credit unions to try and figure out how they can take their best assets, which sometimes is the assets on their balance sheet, other times it’s the relationships that they have in the community, or the knowledge that they have, and really leverage that in the same way that RIP Medical Debt leverages their money to many times the dollar investment. And I think that there’s a lot of opportunities for credit unions to do that. And that’s one of my key areas of interest.

George Hofheimer:
And then the third area, I think, just generally has to do with understanding the role of technology is going to increase, and it has increased due to COVID. But a really unique opportunity for credit unions to maintain that human touch in their business. And as the community banking world kind of goes by the wayside, there’s tremendous amount of consolidation going on there, which means that there’s fewer and fewer banks which are bigger and bigger. And credit unions, I believe, can fill a niche that is more focused in, more designed around human needs rather than corporate needs. So in the past few months before I started this bike trip, I started writing a book about that, tentatively titled… And actually it is titled, because I’m self-publishing it. No one can tell me that it’s a stupid title. It’s going to be called, it’s Banking On a Human Scale. Yeah. Trying to kind of illuminate what that means from an internal perspective, an external perspective, a product perspective, an innovation perspective and a strategy perspective.

George Hofheimer:
And so I think that there’s a real opportunity for credit unions to, yes, identify that technology is absolutely important from a transactional and an efficiency perspective. But it’s not the end all, be all. We still need to maintain a human to the business that we do. Otherwise, we’re going to just kind of look and feel like B of A, but without the resources.

Cameron Madill:
Yeah. Well put. So George, I think we’re nearing the end of our time here. I guess a few sort of more specific questions.

George Hofheimer:
Yeah.

Cameron Madill:
Should I, and anyone listening to this, be glad that we cannot smell the inside of your hotel room right now?

George Hofheimer:
Actually, right now, I’ve been biking with my 78 year old dad for the past week. We’ve been lux-ing it up. Taking care of some [crosstalk 00:23:34].

Cameron Madill:
All right. All right.

George Hofheimer:
So right now, we are at the Super 8 motel in Kountze, I think? Kountze, Texas. Right on the Louisiana border. We actually did laundry a few days ago. So we’re pretty good now. In a week, after a few days of camping in the bayou, the answer would definitely be [crosstalk 00:23:52]

Cameron Madill:
Different story, I’m thinking.

George Hofheimer:
Yeah, it’d be different.

Cameron Madill:
I’ve done a few four day bike trips. You’re on what day? 60 or something? I don’t know how many days.

George Hofheimer:
No. I’m on day… Let’s see. Today’s the first. I’m on day 27.

Cameron Madill:
All right. Well, it’s still a lot more-

George Hofheimer:
28. Yeah.

Cameron Madill:
It’s a lot more than four. And I remember after four days, I just would want to burn everything that had been part of that experience. Well, congratulations to you and your dad on smelling so… It sounds like, just like fresh flowers after 20 some days.

George Hofheimer:
It smells like the Super 8.

Cameron Madill:
That’s not really a fresh flower. All right. George, thank you. I really was excited to have this opportunity to catch you on the road in the midst of a big adventure, but talking about such an exciting cause. Is there a link that people can go to if they want to support at that 100 to 1 level? You know, put a dollar in and get a hundred dollars in debt forgiven?

George Hofheimer:
Yeah. Yeah. That’d be great. Yeah. I mean, we’re still fundraising. Even though we’ve doubled the goal, definitely contributions are welcome. I’ve been posting mostly on Instagram.

Cameron Madill:
Okay.

George Hofheimer:
So in my bio on Instagram you can see where the link is. And my handle on Instagram is Real G Hoff, R-E-A-L, G, H-O-F. And I do daily story updates and then weekly posts. And then in my bio, you can see where to go to contribute, if you want to. Yeah. And you can meet all my co-riders as well.

Cameron Madill:
An interesting bunch. Any last thoughts, or anything you want to reiterate from the conversation today for our audience?

George Hofheimer:
No. Thanks for the interest. And I’m excited that… You know, Texas, where I am right now, is a very different place than I’ve ever been. And for better or for worse, you can kind of see what reopening looks like, of the economy, here in Texas. And I think that we are about to enter a period of really rapid economic growth. So I never thought I say this, but I’m in Texas and I’m speaking from the future.

Cameron Madill:
Well, perfect words to end with. George, thank you and good luck on the rest of your trip.

George Hofheimer:
All right, Cameron. Good talking to you.

Cameron Madill:
All right, folks. Another really enjoyable episode. It was quite the kick to catch up with George from a hotel room in Texas. Love to share a few of my key takeaways. I think the first one, which I’m going to go check out is that film he referenced, called Side Effects, funded by the National Credit Union Foundation on the costs of cancer. I’ve seen some personal, and folks very close to me go through somewhat similar things. But I think the more that we can learn about how significant and broad this issue is in our society, the better.

Cameron Madill:
The second one is kind of the headline, the core message George kept going back to with this great non-profit, RIP Medical Debt, and the fact that they’re able to use former collectors to go out and buy loans that have gone bad covering medical debt, and leverage donations a hundred to one to help consumers restore their finances. That just seems like an incredible opportunity. And especially, what an amazing gift to give back to a community as well as, I can imagine, just tremendous publicity and good will that could be resulting from that, to really focus on a credit union’s field of membership.

Cameron Madill:
My next takeaway was that I liked George’s comment that credit lines are really good and sort of naturally designed as financial first responders. Part of why I think they responded so well to COVID when it first broke out in March, 2020. And really looking at first order effects. What are the things that are directly connected to what’s happening? But that this is really a second or a third order effect. And I liked the analogy that George used, that this is finding out how many members are using check cashers or payday lenders. It takes work to go find that data. It’s not just going to be sitting in the data processing or data analysis that most credit unions have. And so we have to go out and find it if we’re ever going to be able to take action on it.

Cameron Madill:
I love this framing of three things credit union should do to change the world. First off, look at the needs of women. I think this has been shown over and over again in research and programs all around the world. That if we can lift up and empower women, then society as a whole benefits dramatically. Secondly, thinking about sustainability, not just in terms of the full balance sheet and the financial assets, but also in terms of community relationships and how can those assets all be leveraged to create a more sustainable credit union community and world. And then lastly, this technology acceleration, which COVID-19 has really been a huge part of. But how do we make sure, as credit unions, that we’re using that to build more personal human and values aligned relationships, and not just emulate the mega banks and become a smaller, and frankly, a competitor that can’t measure up when we think of the resources that they have in the technology space.

Cameron Madill:
I was very excited to hear that George is working on a book. I know it will be fantastic. He is such a brilliant guy. So I’m looking forward to reading Banking On a Human Scale, and his concept that he briefly shared of looking at what that means from an internal, external product and strategy standpoint.

Cameron Madill:
Lastly, if you were inspired by what George is doing in this really great concept, I know my wife and I were super excited to donate. There’s a link which we’ll put on the website and other places. But it is secure.qgiv.com/event/gh, if you’re able to get that down. And then it sounds like George is off to new adventures, so if any of you want to connect with him, he can be reached at george@hofheimer, H-O-F-H-E-I-M-E-R, dot org. All right. Thank you for joining us today for another great episode. Till the next time, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.

 

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