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Race to the Top: What “Values-Based Banking” Actually Means

Simeon Chapin

“Values-based banking” is becoming a popular concept, but what does it actually mean? Simeon Chapin, Community Impact Officer at Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU), joins our Remarkable Credit Union Podcast to explain.

VSECU is a member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a network of banking leaders from around the world committed to advancing positive change in the banking sector. Simeon talks about what VSECU does to engage its community through outside-in listening, what VSECU has learned from the Global Alliance about measuring what really matters, and what a newcomer to the credit union movement sees as its heart and soul.

Key Takeaways

  • Credit unions are an inevitable social response to an economic system that is inherently inequitable. If the free market banking system worked as it was supposed to, providing everyone with the best banking and financial assistance that they could afford, credit unions as they are today wouldn’t exist. Yet the inequalities that have resulted in financially underserved populations create a market for thriving, socially-focused credit unions.
  • There’s a huge difference between “not being bad” and “being good.” “Not being bad” is driven by a hyper focus on competitor marketing, to the detriment of your own business in the long run. Actively “being good” involves looking inside yourself, your business, and your community, to find the factors that truly differentiate your institution. .
  • Financial resilience isn’t enough to judge whether or not you are meeting a member’s needs. This is one of the main reasons people choose credit unions over banks. Sure, a bank may be able to finance your dream car or dream home, but if paying off the loan ruins your life, it shouldn’t be considered a success. Credit unions combine financial resilience with other areas of interest, like health, wellness, and even happiness, when examining a member’s satisfaction.

Read the full transcript here:

Cameron: Hello and welcome to The Remarkable Credit Union podcast. We created our podcast to help credit union leaders think outside of the box about social impact, marketing, and technology. Each episode, we bring on expert guests from inside and outside of the industry for conversations about innovation. Our goal is to challenge your preconceptions about business as usual and provide you with actionable takeaways.

Cameron: Today’s big question, what can all credit unions learn from the Global Alliance for Banking on Values, to structure themselves so they’re constantly improving their social, environmental, and economic impact as part of business as usual? Today, I’m very excited to welcome my friend Simeon Chapin, although did I say your last name right? This is a great introduction.

Simeon Chapin: Chapin.

Cameron: Chapin. So you know Chapin, as you probably know, is the local word for Guatemalans. They call themselves Chapines.

Simeon Chapin: Yes. Yes.

Cameron: That’s probably where I got it-

Simeon Chapin: [crosstalk 00:00:59] I also know in Puerto Rico, I think they have a tacos chapin, which is fish tacos.

Cameron: All right well-

Simeon Chapin: I got two names that are hard. Simeon Chapin. You got Simeon right.

Cameron: Chapin. Chapin. Well see, now we all know, not just me, the audience as well. All right, well good and Simeon Chapin, I got it right this time, is the Community Impact Officer at VSECU. Does lots of amazing work. Got an interesting story. So he’s a VSECU, he’s a native of Vermont and moved away, came back. And Vermont like a lot of more rural areas has a bit of a challenge, I’d not heard this term, of boomerangs, people who need to get away but ultimately come back. So a little bit of the middle demographically it might be a little hollow, so we’ll talk about that. Among many other things, he’s a professional percussionist and drummer. I learned this just a few weeks ago. He actually played in Cuba, and in 2000, 2001 when I was actually studying music in Cuba, so we may have passed each other in the streets. He’s also a proud dad with two kids. Simeon, thanks for joining us.

Simeon Chapin: Cameron, thank you so much for having me. It’s a real pleasure to be speaking with you about these things and it was pretty amazing to find out about your history as a musician as well. Cuba was an amazing place to visit as well as other places I saw through music. Really getting perspective beyond what I had just growing up in Vermont, which is a lovely place, a place I definitely am proud to be back in. One little thing. The boomerangs is not the problem. We actually need more boomerangs and a lot of kids growing up in rural areas I think all across the country feel limited by the amount of opportunity that’s there. And so I, like many other folks, needed to go away and experience something else for a while, and I just feel really glad and I think I’ve been able to do it is to take that perspective and bring it back and put it to use in the community that I grew up in. Around the community that I feel really attached to. As well as just, Vermont’s got an amazing quality of life. So raising those two kids in central Vermont like is a good place to be.

Cameron: Yeah, I hear it’s just absolutely beautiful. I was only there once. So I’d love to start with some kind of quick hitting questions. How would you describe your strategy organizationally at VSECU in one sentence and how would you describe your role in one sentence?

Simeon Chapin: Got it. Okay. So the VSECU I think in one sentence is, do good by doing good. And that’s good in both the financial sense but also in just the doing good sense, doing good for people, doing good for the whole picture. We really focus on the members and their full needs, not only their financial needs. And I think we do that through really outside in listening and trying to innovate by listening to what is needed in the membership and in the community. And looking for partnerships. For me, I guess in one sentence it’s connecting the dots, trying to connect them from what we do and how, and then why we do it, as well as building capacity of this organization to measure and make real the contributions that we make to the lives of the members. So some days it looks like philanthropy. Some days it looks like networking and introductions and partnerships for new business opportunities. Sometimes it looks like looking at our staff and seeing what they’re needing. So it’s a lot of different hats, and it’s a lot of fun and I love it. And that was a lot more than one sentence.

Cameron: I was going to say that there’s a lot of semi-colons in there, but it’s a good answer. Can you tell me a little more? I think it’s a very common thing for credit unions to say, “Hey, we’re concerned about financial resilience or wellness or health,” whatever they call it, and even that is a very audacious goal, because there’s so much that goes into any individual’s financial situation. But I thought it was really intriguing that you talked about looking at the whole member and I’m curious, maybe you could expand a little bit on what that means to you all.

Simeon Chapin: Sure. Looking at the whole member is really part of good business, and part of good financial help. If we don’t understand the motivations for why someone needs to get that car or get the mortgage for the house or find that business loan, there’s motivations beyond just the money. There’s motivations for their family. There’s motivations for being part of the community. There’s motivations for wanting to make a difference in the lives of their parents or taking care of somebody, or whatever it might be. Maybe there’s sickness in their family, maybe there’s all sorts of things. The more we’re able to have trust with members to learn those aspects of their lives, the better we’re able to find the right product for them or find the right recommendation to help them on that task.

Simeon Chapin: So it looks like just good relationship building. I mean if you look at finances by themselves anywhere really, I think you get into trouble, because that system of finance and economics is not separate from the systems of social dynamics and the environment in which we live. And if we separate them, I think we’re missing a lot of the picture.

Cameron: Yeah, that’s a great point as well. That’ll come up, I’m sure, more in this conversation. It’s sort of similar to the notion that a business or organization is a whole lot more than just its income statement and balance sheet. Cool. All right. We’ll come back to that. Great answer. I’d love to know, because you have such an interesting story, why does impact matter to you personally and how does the cooperative structure fit into that? Because you haven’t always worked at credit unions or cooperatives.

Simeon Chapin: No, this was actually the first financial institution I’ve worked at, and also the first cooperative I’ve worked for. So why does impact matter to me? Well, I mean maybe it’s too grandiose, but I guess I have a value set that says I want to leave something here better than I found it. And my family taught me that making a difference in the world and making a difference in the lives of people is part of why we’re here. The reason why we’re here. So there’s just an ethos of impact and making a difference, changing things for improvement that I grew up in.

Simeon Chapin: In terms of co-ops, we grew up going to the local co-op for food. I spent time in the kid zone of the co-op, which was like a little loft space over in the corner, while my parents went to get their bulk food and all of that. Vermont has a strong history of cooperative development, cooperative movement, cooperative conversations, cooperative community. And so again, you know, it’s just another part of the culture and ethos that I grew up in. So when, after going down the path of being a musician, looking at culture of music, performing it, cross communication and interacting with people who are very different than me, in an effort to build bridges and find some shared values and shared need. And I saw this opportunity… I mean, I had some other steps before jumping right into the credit unions, in sustainable business and nonprofit work.

Simeon Chapin: But when I saw this opportunity of VSECU about community development and marketing, I said, “You know, I’ve done this piece of it, I’ve done that piece of it, done this piece of it before, why not?” So went and took a look at it and found that the leadership at VSECU was really inspiring. What VSECU was trying to do in terms of redefining banking and redefining itself as a… I shouldn’t say redefining itself, but really pushing itself further than it had before into social enterprise and social impact. That was really inspiring to me. And so I’m proud to join the team.

Cameron: And it’s a great segue into, I’ve not heard of the VSECU until, I guess, I think it was earlier this year, I was at the Global Alliance for Banking on Values event and I met your CEO and just kind of, it always intrigued me because there’s, I think there’s only like six or seven credit unions in the Global Alliance, in the US. Is that right? Or even fewer maybe.

Simeon Chapin: I don’t have the current number right now, but that sounds about right. We actually were the first credit union in the United States to join back in 2016, and since then there’s been a couple of others who have joined.

Cameron: Yeah. And so I guess I was really impressed with the organization. Vance City was hosting it, and obviously put a lot of resources into it and really enjoyed meeting Rob and speaking with him. And yeah, I was really curious to hear… I think I actually knew you guys were the first, but in any case, I knew you were a big leader in this movement. Since the Global Alliance is not that broadly known in the US credit union space, how have you benefited from your membership? Why did you join it in the first place? And why should other credit units consider joining it?

Simeon Chapin: Sure. Yeah. So Rob Miller, our CEO, one of the people who I was inspired to really join this movement or join this credit union. He was in the interview when I first was applying for the job and he also was actually a boomerang of sorts to Vermont as well. Grew up… I shouldn’t say grew up, but he went to UVM, transferred into politics and was doing some work in economic development for the governor, and then left to do banking outside of the state. But when VSECU was looking for a new CEO, he was recruited to apply and made the switch and came back to Vermont. I think he appreciates place, which is really part of this whole thing.

Simeon Chapin: In terms of the Global Alliance, it’s a bit of a story. I think he was also from outside of the credit union space and so he was looking around to see, what are some shining examples of excellence in the credit union world that has the social impact piece, the social enterprise piece first and foremost. In that research he found both Vance City and then also the Global Alliance and started looking down that path, when I was hired, we’re also looking for ways that we could bring ideas from the outside into the credit union in order to reinvigorate, and not start completely over, but get some outside perspective and see what we may be missing if we just continued to only be networking amongst the credit union world.

Simeon Chapin: So we were looking for peers, looking for networking and looking for some validation of this idea that we were trying to really put first and foremost. So we looked at things like the impact investing networks. We looked at social enterprise networks like B Corp and others, for both that networking peer-to-peer and also the kind of metrics tools. You know, B Corp was really intriguing and still is, but we really quickly identified that as a credit union in the United States, we’re not eligible to join or be certified as a B Corp, because we are not for profit. And the structure of the B Corp model doesn’t allow that.

Simeon Chapin: So we were looking for something that we could become validated in and could become certified with. And the GABV had some of that started already. We have used the scorecard, right? So the GABV is a network, it’s a peer group. It’s got learning built in. There’s great opportunities in the Leadership Academy as well as some courses that they’ve developed around just banking, which has incredible examples of sustainable banking and impact banking practices gathered from all over the world. There’s a lot of other banks and credit unions in the network who have been down this sustainable banking path for many years, and have a lot of shared experience to give. So we were getting some of that and the scorecard was a great way to have us think about metrics that would prove the social impact model, both to ourselves and also to the membership.

Simeon Chapin: So in the global Alliance we were able to kind of find all those things. I wouldn’t say that that’s it. We’re done. We still network with the Vermont Businesses For Social Responsibility here, and we still look to B Corp for ideas and for partnerships. The people who are associated with the B Corp model are people we want to associate with as well. But in terms of actual membership, becoming certified, having kind of the logo on our website and having that proof point, GABV really was able to provide that for us.

Cameron: I totally get that. It’s sort of where you hang your hat and you get your primary value. And as you know, for us it’s the certified B Corp community. Probably if we were eligible to join the Global Alliance we would probably do it too. But we’re obviously not.

Simeon Chapin: Right. And I mean the other piece of that is that the GABV is really, it’s finance specific, right? So the people who are in the network deal primarily in finance, and there’s a lot of different things in there to share. You know, it’s great. It’s international as well. There’s people doing microfinance in Bolivia. There’s people doing Sharia law financing in Malaysia. There’s people in the Netherlands who have been doing strictly green financing and energy financing for 30 years. Banks that were founded with social purpose first and foremost. It’s a deep well of resource.

Cameron: Yeah, it’s a very impressive group. I remember just in the short conference I was at, I think I met an amazing bank, I believe out of Nepal and it was just people all over the world doing incredible stuff.

Simeon Chapin: Yeah, I mean I think specifically we’ve participated in the communities of practice for metrics and for communications. So those have been some really great peer networking opportunities, as well as an opportunity to actually help guide the process of the scorecard creation. And then, again, those learning opportunities, right? The Leadership Academy, we have our head of consumer and mortgage lending participating in a Leadership Academy right now, and she’s really on fire because of that. I led a group through the just banking course, which is a Mooka, a massive online course that’s housed at MIT, which helps kind of some of these ideas more directly to more of our staff. And it didn’t just come from a few of us in the credit union. It came from these outside sources to show that this is not isolated. This is a global thing.

Cameron: Yeah. And there’s so much I admire about the Global Alliance, so I think my next question will tie into it neatly. I think in the world of social impact, as well as social impact marketing, there’s often two sides to the coin, and one of them is not doing bad and one of them is kind of more actively being a force for good. And I think of not doing bad or not being bad is something that’s pretty much baked into the credit union model. There were exceptions, but, “Hey, we’re not going to do weird, you know, subprime mortgage derivatives. We’re not going to be, you know, a payday lender that is explicitly built on a model of trapping people into a predatory cycle.” And there’s just a lot, I think about the cooperative model that says credit unions are generally not bad. And they’re probably not going to be investing in weapons contractors or private prisons.

Cameron: But I think often credit unions try to kind of hang their hat on that, of like, “We’re not bad,” which especially relative to the mega banks is a substantial difference. But I think things like the Global Alliance and obviously B Corp and other similar efforts are all about how can we act, not just mitigate the negative but really play offense as well as those sort of defensive we’re not going to do these things. So tell me how you think about that and maybe how VSECU goes about that.

Simeon Chapin: First and foremost, I think that the credit union movement is really strong and it’s origins, right? Like it’s a social response to economic system that’s inequitable. It’s a social, it’s people getting together to work together to say, “We can do better together than we can individually and we can get some autonomy and agency if we do this.” So I just want to make sure that the recognition of the credit union movement is palpable here. Like it’s real. In terms of not being bad, I think sometimes credit unions get stuck into that trap of being defined by their competition. And that may be where this not being bad can come from, right? We’re not a bank. We’re different than a bank. We’re better than a bank. Come bank with us. And yeah, sometimes that’s against the big five or the biggest banks in the world. But sometimes it’s also maybe against their community banks in their neighborhood, who are also doing great work.

Simeon Chapin: So that’s a position. I think getting stuck by marketing your comparison to your competition can only go so far. In terms of flipping that towards, “Well, what are you doing and why does it matter?” I think that’s just a more relevant conversation for most people when they’re making a decision for where they want to do their business. Yeah, people want to avoid the bad, but they also like to go for the good. So the communication of that, I think is really important. And then also pivoting to that forward thinking, developing, building mindset also is really contiguous and really kind of an evolution of the cooperative movement, or those ideals that cooperatives hold where it’s open to all you want to serve the member. There’s concern for community built in, and there’s a constant kind of reevaluation of how well we’re doing.

Simeon Chapin: And that feedback loop I find in B Corps, I find in the Global Alliance, that drive to reflect act, take measurements, look at how it’s going then reflect some more and keep going is really strong. And I think it electrifies staff, like it’s not just, we’re not bad. I think it’s more people get electrified when we’re trying to keep creating benefit and keep driving forward with that benefit. And it’s not only for our staff, it electrifies members and also the larger community. It becomes something that is remarkable.

Cameron: Yeah. Hence the name of the podcast. Well put.

Simeon Chapin: I just realized I said that. Do I get extra points?

Cameron: You do. That means we’ll send you a little special something afterwards.

Simeon Chapin: I won’t tell what it is. That’ll be your secret stone.

Cameron: So tell us a little bit about, maybe just concisely, but like what’s on the scorecard for the Global Alliance? Because I think it’s really helpful to hear. I know it really opened my eyes. I went through it quite extensively at one point after meeting you all. What’s in there, what kind of things do you measure and…

Simeon Chapin: Yeah, sure. So the scorecard is broken into two main sections. There’s quantitative metrics, which look at the balance sheet and the numbers of how much money is where and ratios. And then there’s the qualitative aspects of it, which measure the kind of ability of the credit union or the bank to operate in a values based way. So the quantitative side, right? The metrics and numbers have some things like what’s your net worth ratio, right? To measure stability. What’s the quality of your assets?

Simeon Chapin: And then there’s other ones which are more about this more values-based lending, right? Which is concepts like the real economy and triple bottom line lending, are the ones that pop out the most. So real economy is the vast majority of what most credit unions do. It’s giving loans to people to purchase things. So you are, as a credit union, one step away from the actual transaction that delivers something real in the economy, hence real economy. And anything beyond that, once loans start being bundled and sold, that gets into the financial economy. And so the amount that a bank has in the real economy is a measure of how connected they are to the members, how connected they are to the clients of the bank, how connected they are to actual tangible action in the real world as opposed to being isolated in the financial economy.

Simeon Chapin: The other concept on the quantitative side is triple bottom line intermediation or lending to social purpose. Social, environmental and financial inclusion purposes. And so that looks like energy efficiency lending, solar development lending, regenerative agriculture lending, lending into communities that are underserved or marginalized, and activities like that. Low income housing development, affordable housing, transportation, et cetera. And so the volume of a credit union or a bank that is lending to those areas shows how much that credit union’s purpose and those assets are being used to create the future, which is more equitable, more just, more financially resilient, more environmentally sustainable. So that’s the quantitative side.

Simeon Chapin: On the qualitative side. It’s looking at kind of what is your strategy around leadership, human resource development, risk tolerance, governance and other attributes, which are the structure. And then how are those implemented and then what are the results you’re finding.

Simeon Chapin: So it’s a bit of a narrative and and then also each credit union or each member of the GABV at this point, is putting up the results that are pertinent to them. Right? In Bolivia for micro lending it might be very different than what’s happening in Vermont in terms of the results we’re trying to drive with our policies and procedures. And the Alliance is looking to find more and more indicators in that space that can be used across all the banks, all the members. But those are the two main aspects. So the quantitative, what are your hard numbers? How are you lending? What’s your sustainability, what’s your financial health? And then the qualitative, what is it that you say you want to do? How do you do it and what are the results from those things that you’re trying to achieve in the world?

Cameron: It’s such a great tool. You know, I think as a businessman myself and someone who loves numbers, I remember being kind of shocked to learn that… To me it’s like what the NCUA is measuring is like a spotlight, but it’s missing half of the picture. And so I feel like the GABV scorecard just kind of broadens that spotlight and gives this holistic scorecard for how well a bank or a credit union is doing. And I just think it’s such, as you know, I always say I’m obviously a big partisan of, of certified B corporations. And I used to think my mission would be to convert credit unions to be certified B Corps. But I just think it’s such a tremendous group. And as you said, the fact that it’s explicitly focused on financial institutions, I think is just so powerful. Because I think while we can learn a lot from analogous organizations in different industries, it sure is pretty great to be able to sit down with peers and talk through, immediately have all of this common context to get to the good work.

Simeon Chapin: I mean, I think what the scorecard, right? Like we said it earlier, right? In terms of the holistic view, the NCUA ratios and the traditional ways that credit unions and banks measure success and measure themselves. It’s really, as you say, it’s a spotlight, right? It’s a piece of a picture. And the more that we can figure out tools and metrics to be able to widen the scope of that measurement, to look at more and have that vision into the work that we do be a wider scope, so that we can have more access to how we’re going to change, how are we going to do better? That’s really powerful. And so that’s one of the things which is exciting to me about the Global Alliance scorecard and, and also just the network in general.

Cameron: Well, and I think as you mentioned, kind of the competitor marketing focus. And I think anytime we’re benchmarked, it’s human nature to sort of say, “I want that green, not yellow or red.” And I think one of the issues with the NCUA being the only source of metrics, I think those are critical metrics. I mean, like I said, I’m a businessman. If you don’t have healthy finances, you got nothing.

Simeon Chapin: Absolutely.

Cameron: But I think, and B Corp talks about this as do Conscious Capitalism and other groups, of by benchmarking against say a VSECU or a Vance City or Clearwater and Missoula or I think Verdi in Washington is also a Global Alliance member. You now start creating this race to the top rather than the race to the bottom, because you’ve got an incomplete picture that is purely financially oriented.

Simeon Chapin: Yeah, exactly. I mean here we talk about no margin, no mission, right? You have to be profitable. And one of the other things that I haven’t mentioned yet about the Global Alliance is… Two things that I got to say. One is they do a lot of research that shows and proves that this type of finance and this type of banking is actually more sustainable and actually more profitable than what you think of as a traditional banking model. And the other piece that they do, is a lot of strong advocacy for the model, both amongst the network, but also out in the world. To build this as the way that finance should be done.

Cameron: So let’s pivot from that to, you already told us sort of how you came to be at VSECU and you have a broad background, but I’d love to hear what do you think you have to offer as someone who joined your credit union, not having worked at a credit union before, as well as what are the drawbacks.

Simeon Chapin: With personally?

Cameron: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think I’m just going to trust that you’ve got your personal game figured out. More for the credit union. Kind of what value does the credit union get by having someone’s perspective who hasn’t been in the industry for a long time, but also what are the drawbacks?

Simeon Chapin: Sure, sure. It’s culture, right? I come from a different culture than many of the people who are coming up in the financial world. Looking at balance sheets was not something that I did every day. I’m learning about it now for sure. But I think it speaks to some of the values that we’re trying to operate by. More perspectives at the table bring a better decision in terms of how to move ahead. So that idea that this credit union was looking forward to get more perspective from the outside and bring more people to the cause, I think I was able to help fill that role. And anybody who was outside of the credit union world could do that as well. So I think that that’s an advantage. I think that in recruiting in the credit union, I think it’s great. In the credit union world, I think it’s really important to look outside of traditional banking services, to find people who are lit up by the work of the credit unions and financial institutions, especially those that have a social purpose.

Simeon Chapin: I mean I think that there’s a lot of people who want to have a meaningful career, want to do something to make impact. And so those people can really be a boon to the organizations. Other advantages, I guess I didn’t know what I didn’t know. So I was able to say things that maybe had been thought of but not pushed before, or things that people weren’t considering because they didn’t have that perspective. So I think that brought some excitement and also some challenges to the credit union. I don’t know if it’s a drawback or not, but there was good times to learn about we could try this new thing or maybe it’s just a little too much. And there’s always that internal tension of shooting for the stars and balancing that with the reality of the business practices and what has been learned by professionals in the industry for so long. I need them to be able to ground the ideas that we have or the path we’re going on, and maybe they need people like the leaders of the GABV or people in positions like mine to push the boundaries.

Cameron: This is maybe a slight curve ball, but we’ve both been in this impact analytics mastermind group that we formed about six months ago and we’ve been, I guess going ever since then.

Simeon Chapin: Thanks. I want to say thanks for getting that started. I think it’s been a valuable thing for the people who are participating and I hope it can make some impact beyond those people as well.

Cameron: Yeah, I think we have a lot of hopes there. I’m curious if you can just kind of quick share what that’s been like. Maybe if it’s worth, because we certainly would be interested in, there’s been some discussion of forming a second group. But just kind of quick sharing the structure and what we’ve learned, because it’s a startup and maybe what the benefits to you have been.

Simeon Chapin: Structure is you are the facilitator of a good conversation.

Cameron: That’s true.

Simeon Chapin: Every few weeks. I think we’ve got people in the group who are interested in continuing to build social purpose into the credit union space, and people who are trying to figure out how to do it. Let’s see, what have we learned? We’ve learned that there’s a lot of different ways to go about it. We’ve learned that there’s looking for structure, looking for tools but also realizing there’s work that has to be done at all levels. Structurally within an organization, emotionally and kind of personal development to be able to push this work forward. How to be a leader in this space. How to be brave. How to be humble. A lot of that stuff. We’ve also learned from each other in terms of some fun things that are happening at various peer credit unions. We’ve been able to share where we’re at, what we’re struggling with and get some feedback on it, which has been great. It’s been really good.

Cameron: Yeah, so much amazing stuff going on. I remember, George [inaudible 00:30:26] from filing shared about the stick violence loans, a pilot that had been done. I had no idea about that. And you were sharing the Global Alliance’s work on climate change and carbon neutrality. And it really is amazing how much is happening. I think maybe it’s just a response to all the needs of the world today, but there just seems to be so much creativity and innovation.

Simeon Chapin: Absolutely.

Cameron: I rarely do plugs, but I would say if anyone listening is interested in joining a second impact analytics mastermind, feel free to just reach out to me. Send me an I’m curious. We could go on all day, but if someone is interested in learning more about the Global Alliance, which is as I’ve said… I’ve shared my feelings. I think it’s really just a special group. Can they reach out to you to learn more?

Simeon Chapin: Yeah, definitely. People can call me. I think that the website, gabv.org is a good place to go. I also think if people want to check out vsecu.com, that’s the website for VSECU, and you can can learn more about VSECU there. Happy to be a resource for people listening, always happy to meet people who are interested in this kind of work and who knows, maybe we can find ways to work together.

Cameron: Yeah, absolutely. Cool. Well let’s do our final take. Is there anything that you didn’t get to that you’d like to share or anything you’d like to reiterate?

Simeon Chapin: I guess, I feel somewhat blessed to be in the position I’m in. I try to remember that every day and when things get hard, because the movement that is in the credit union space, the movement that is in social impact financing or social enterprise financing, it just feels really relevant right now with all the challenges that are happening in the world. And the conversations about money are hard, but they’re also incredibly important and you know where money goes, so goes a lot of the future. So the more that the money goes to the future that we want to see, similar to say like I think I might take this from Douglas Rushkoff, “The more we bet through investment on the future that we want rather than betting on a future that we don’t want.” That’s just really an important conversation. It’s important place to be. So I feel really lucky to be here at VSECU. I feel lucky to have the opportunity to meet the amazing people throughout the Global Alliance network and the credit union network and looking forward to continuing the good work.

Cameron: Well said. Hey Simeon, thanks so much for joining us today and keep up the good work.

Simeon Chapin: Yeah, thanks Cameron. Be well. You too.

Cameron: All right. Another enjoyable episode. I really enjoyed talking to Simeon. I’m glad I finally learned how to pronounce his last name. Just a few of my key takeaways. I loved his comment that credit unions are a social response to an economic system that is inequitable. I thought that was a really interesting framing of where credit unions came from and one of the key I think things to keep in mind as we look towards the future. I also really liked this comment about how not being bad, which is a good thing, right? Not being bad is a great place to start, but that that’s driven by being really focused on competitor marketing. Whereas really actively trying to be a force for good is really trying to look more deeply inside yourself and your community and what differentiators are going to stand on yourself.

Cameron: I also thought was relating his framing about his job and how VSECU looks at their work, is really looking at the whole member and how financial resilience isn’t enough. I found that kind of inspiring and daunting, because just creating financial wellness is such an incredible challenge. But it is certainly true that all of the aspects of our lives are interlinked with our financial position.

Cameron: And then lastly, I was just thinking of that idea of what gets measured changes or gets influenced and how the Global Alliance scorecard is a really powerful way to extend that spotlight on purely financial numbers, that I think that the NCUA does such a great job of. And businesses in general do such a good job of, because we have to pay attention to the numbers to survive. But just wondering what would it look like if that was actually built into the regulations or if we could create a movement of credit unions that said they’re going to use something like the Global Alliance scorecard, and we’d have numbers of not just the basic financial stuff, but what percentage of your financial activity is serving underserved populations, or loans that are triple bottom line concept that are supporting direct carbon mitigation or solar loans or regenerative farming, or supporting social purpose enterprises, and what kind of powerful change we could drive.

Cameron: All right, well thanks for joining us as always, and join us next time for a conversation about insights from CUNA Mutual Group’s multicultural center of expertise. They’re doing lots of great work on how we can more effectively do good and do well by really engaging different audiences. Until then, I wish you the best of luck in making your credit union remarkable.