For years credit unions have talked Primary Financial Institution (PFI) goals, and some even took the word “primary” to the extreme of trying to be the only. But that is tough, if not totally impractical, especially in today’s networked world. So how do you secure a top-of-mind role with your members from their financial management perspective? How do you shift the focus from what you hope members will do to help your balance sheet, to one where you hope members include you somehow in everything they do to help themselves?
You embrace that today members need a good anchor, a central communication point, and a convenient first-and-last starting point for every transaction they do. Your credit union can be their Grand Central Station, their traffic controller, their “Best Traffic Cop” partner. You can be that guy with the hat, white gloves and whistle standing in the intersection keeping the traffic moving smoothly and eliminating roadblocks in your members’ way.
Many think this means tools, but I believe tools are the easiest part of it. What it requires is an openness to partnering with the member to move their money anywhere they need it. It starts with trusting that being part of the transaction is the best way to sell your value and extend your relationship. From there you simply go after as much of the member’s activity as you can, and you work with them on their agenda.
For example, if you are looking to expand your loan opportunities, try concentrating on making sure your members see you as the place to find a loan, whether or not your credit union actually offers that loan. Even if you just act as a go-between to help the member engage with someone else, you set the tone that your credit union is the place to start whenever they need a loan. If you need to find more opportunity, start by making sure you get a chance to see all of the opportunity that already exists with the members you have.
This takes work and some new core competencies. It takes a willingness to work with members even when the products aren’t on your balance sheet. It takes the ability to earn from activities whenever money comes and goes between a member’s chosen financial institutions. It takes a new focus on settlement solutions no matter what the source. You have to be ready to encourage the member to act, and include you when they are on the move.
By starting with tools that let members move their money within their own membership and amongst their family, friends, and business relationships at the credit union, you allow the member to create a personal network within your credit union. Include your entire network like branches, staff, phone centers, ect., and activate tools that expand your member’s network to other resources like online banking, mobile banking, A2A, off-balance sheet links, and single sign-on extensions.
Then market your intent. When it comes to managing their money, no matter where, when, or how the member needs to interact with the outside world, you are there for them. Like that cop that keeps the traffic flowing, your credit union wants to be there to help whenever members are on the move.
CU*Answers offers expertise in implementing technical solutions to operational needs, and is a leader in helping credit unions form strategic alliances and partnerships. CU*Answers provides a wide variety of services for credit unions including its flagship CU*BASE processing system (online and in-house) and Internet development services featuring It’s Me 247 online and mobile banking. Additional services include web development, network design and security, and image check processing. Founded 40+ years ago CU*Answers is a 100% credit union-owned CUSO providing services to credit unions representing nearly 1.5 million members and $10 billion in credit union assets. For more information, visit www.cuanswers.com.