IEEE e-mailed a “benefits bulletin” last week. I love IEEE and am an officer for the Madison, WI Section, but I have never found anything useful in the financial services IEEE promotes. Of the non-officer snail mail I receive from them, most of it promotes insurance products. Based only on their snail mail and discounting all the good stuff I do with them online and in person, IEEE feels like an insurance company promotion organization with a side focus on engineering.
The most recent e-mailing links to a US Bank website extolling the benefits of a good credit score. Their argument goes something like this:
We’ve developed a scoring system for individuals’ trustworthiness when it comes to paying back money. The way to score high is to use our product. The benefit of scoring high is you can use more of our product. Even if you don’t like using our product, the score is being used by other industries. We’re hoping this number we created will become widely accepted as a general indication of trustworthiness in all areas of life. So use our product!
That’s a great deal for them. It’s no wonder some people feel such anger toward financial institutions. That anger is unnecessary, IMHO, because banks are not as powerful as they fancy themselves. Their scoring system is not widely accepted, except by banks and now insurance companies.
I am not categorically opposed to a single number that attempts to distill someone’s trustworthiness in paying bills. I’m opposed to the banks FICO score, though, because a) the scoring method is not open to the pubic and b) much of it is self-servingly based on using their product. I find this doubly offensive when it’s presented as tips for responsible financial management.
I am positive overall on the concept of finance and have encouraged engineers to go into the financial industry if they are so inclined. When we deal with any company promoting a product and they say “How can I help you?” we are immediately cautious they’re trying to sell us something. Financial institutions should be treated no differently. IEEE should not present their propaganda as tips for responsible living.