First published in Society Matters magazine, by Frances McCann, CEO Scotwest Credit Union
You may have noticed that everywhere you look these days, someone is talking about purpose. So why is this and why is it so important? This is a question we’ve been asking ourselves in Scotwest Credit Union over a number of years and even more so recently, as we emerge from the greatest financial shock of our lifetimes and our minds turn to the climate emergency. The enormity of the task ahead is daunting. Where do we fit in and how do we make an impact?
We've come a long way on our journey to discovering our purpose. I'll never forget the day we presented a list of words to our staff and told them they were our values or the day spent debating our vision and time wasted deciding on which order to write it in. It's not that any of this was wrong for us. In fact, it was right for us and it has brought us to where we are today; "Delivering better financial lives through caring about individual members and their happiness".
However, life is never simple and things don't stand still. As we find ourselves navigating through a post Brexit, post pandemic landscape with a climate disaster the horizon, we have been questioning ourselves more and more about our purpose and the impact we have on our members and the communities we serve.
The dictionary definition of purpose is "the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists". Why does Scotwest Credit Union exist? On a superficial level, that's easy - we provide, savings, loans and mortgages. But of course, lots of firms do the same. Let's try again, Credit Union legislation prescribes our objectives as: the promotion of thrift by the accumulation of members' savings, the creation of credit at fair and reasonable rates of interest, the use and control of our members' savings for their mutual benefit and education on management of financial affairs. This is definitely better but does this truly portray Scotwest's purpose and what about our impact?
I've never been a great believer in fate, we were lucky to be introduced to kirstyinnes.com and the timing could not have been more perfect. Since meeting Kirsty, we have been on a journey to discover the very core of our existence and we've learned a lot about ourselves, our people and our culture along the way.
This brings me back to the question; Why is everyone talking about purpose and why is it so important? Purpose is more than a list of products and services, it's more than a legal definition, it's more than empty words written on a piece of paper. Purpose tells the world about who you are at your very core, and why you are so different. It's about your people and your culture, it's about how you do things and the impact that you have whilst you're doing it.
Credit unions, like building societies, have always had people at the heart of everything they do. We are built on the premise "people helping people". The future may look daunting, but by leading the way through purpose, you can harness emotional connections with people which can lead to sustainable growth and the ongoing loyalty of your membership.
At Scotwest, we are now embracing our future with confidence, optimism, and a new found sense of purpose.