A guide for lenders: how to write an article for the Lending Council

By Bill Vogeney08.23.2015

As many of you know, I have been a fairly consistent writer for the Lending Council since being asked to serve on the executive committee in 2007. However, my involvement in writing for the council dates back to 1999 when my friend Allen Stevens of Franklin Mint CU and I ran the communications committee and wrote the newsletter (back when we had a paper newsletter mailed to each member). Ah, the good old days.

Now that I’m retired from the executive committee, I’m hoping to spend my extra time in writing even more for the Lending Council. That being said, I know the chair of the council’s Member Resource Committee, Dale Frankhouse, would love to have some more members get involved in writing for the website, just in case I get hit by a bus! It’s also beneficial to the members of the council to get some different opinions and perspectives as well.

Here’s the problem: most of us lenders weren’t hired because we’re good writers. Most of us have had absolutely zero desire to write anything longer than an email once we had our college diplomas in hand. We are, however, GREAT lenders. It’s understandable you might not be tingling with anticipation thinking about writing an article for the council. Here are a few of my thoughts in terms of how to get started if you have an interest in writing for the council:

Find some inspiration!

There’s an old saying that writers should write about what they know. Who better to write on lending topics than a lender? Seriously, I tend to find inspiration in two different places: the ListServe and the office. The ListServe is not only a great place to share ideas, it’s also a good place to find topics on which to write. Several of my past articles got their start from my response to a question on the ListServe. This article is a perfect example: http://www.cunacouncils.org/news/7159/news-article/.

I also tend to find inspiration at the office; what am I currently working on that’s been a struggle? How can my fellow members benefit from my blood, sweat and tears? This is really fresh on my mind, because yesterday I was sitting down with my future all-star portfolio analyst trying to make sense of some static pool loss information. Since there’s no book you can buy on how to interpret the data and make good business decisions, I decided it would be a WONDERFUL topic for an article or perhaps a series of articles. Be on the outlook for them in the next few weeks

Make an outline

Frankly, I don’t remember much from any course I took in high school or college on professional writing. What I do know is that writing is a lot easier if I have an outline to organize my thoughts.  I typically start with an introduction sprinkled with a little humor where I talk about the overall topic of the article. I may share some background information on the issue, and then discuss some of my theories, thoughts, and work I did to address the problem or challenge. I’ll share my triumphs and my failures as well. Finally, I’ll talk about lessons learned and try to illustrate how this information can help other credit unions.

Keep your thoughts concise

You’re not trying to write a term paper, you’re writing an article. 600-800 words work really well for the Lending Council. If you really have a lot to share, consider a series of articles. If you have an outline, the battle to be concise is probably within your grasp of being won!

Find a gentle reader

Whether it’s a significant other, friend, co-worker, or boss, you’re bound to have someone who can review your ideas, give you feedback, and edit your work. One of the big challenges I find in writing about very technical topics is sharing ideas with a potential reader who may not understand fully the subject matter. This is where a subordinate might be able to help; if they can understand the topic and your thoughts, other members of the Lending Council should as well. If all else fails, I am always willing to assist. I’m a fairly decent writer and a good proofreader of other people’s work, just not my own!

Final Thoughts

I haven’t touched on the biggest reasons to get involved and write: it’s great for your career and very rewarding as well. The now-retired CEO at my first credit union, Ed Baranowski, used to speak of the value of people helping people. Not just credit unions helping members, but credit union executives helping executives at other credit unions. That type of cooperation doesn’t exist in the banking world, which certainly helps us survive and thrive. In addition, I sincerely believe that if I hadn’t started writing on a consistent basis 16 years ago, my career would have stagnated without the incredible networking opportunities that it created as a result.
 

Interested in writing for the Lending Council web site? Contact Dale Frankhouse at Dale.Frankhouse@sunfcu.org.

 

Bill Vogeney is the Executive VP and Chief Lending Officer for Ent FCU in Colorado Springs. He can be reached at bvogeney@ent.com.