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Compliance is Like First Grade

I don’t know how many times over the last year or so I have heard the phrase “culture of compliance”. It seems to be one of those overused buzz phrases. It’s in articles, in conference presentations, and even…blogs. But, what is really behind that phrase? Is there something to be learned from what it means?

Well, I did a little research and found an interesting definition that says that a company’s culture is actually its personality. On a personal level, our personality determines how we act, think, and interact with those around us. Let’s consider what a personality means for a credit union.

As I started thinking about personality, my mind went to my first-grade class which I still remember vividly even though it was a hundred years long time ago.

One of the most memorable kids in my first-grade class was Wendell. He was a ball of energy which, unfortunately, was very undirected. So much so, that the teacher would tape him to his desk. I’m not kidding. (You youngsters today have it easy. Apparently, this is now frowned upon.) Wendell wasn’t a bad kid. He was just running a mile a minute without a lot of focus. Is this your credit union’s compliance personality? Are you so busy being everything to everyone that you forget to focus on compliance? If so, you might want to make some changes before someone tapes you to your desk.

And, then there was Shelly. She was a quiet little girl. She never did anything wrong and most of the time you didn’t even notice that she was around. I suppose she had some fun once in a while, but you never really knew for sure. Is your credit union a Shelly? Are you so concerned with doing everything right that you miss the opportunity to branch out and do new things?

And, finally, there was Jacob. He was my first-grade crush. He was the smartest kid in the class. He never did anything wrong, but he was always out there having fun organizing games of four-square. He was respectful even when I made him carry my purse on a bus trip. Jacob was an all-around good kid. Maybe your credit union is like Jacob. Maybe you have achieved a good balance of having a strong compliance personality while still being respectful and responsive to your members’ needs. If so, you will grow up to be class valedictorian and have a great life as a doctor.

Well, I’ve now obviously confused first-grade with credit union compliance. So, my final thought here is that if you have wondered what a “culture of compliance” looks like, take a look at your credit union’s compliance personality. It may tell you a lot about who your credit unions is and what you might want it to be when it grows up.

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