10 Questions That Keep Credit Union Leaders Up At Night (And What To Do About Them)

Financial services move fast. These credit unions have discovered ways to move faster.

 
 

Today’s financial services landscape is rapidly changing. For credit union CEOs and executives, the best defense lies in the constant evaluation of threats and opportunities.

Callahan & Associates speaks with credit union executives every day, and certain pain points keep popping up in these discussions. But every problem has a solution, and leaders also are quick to share the ways in which they’ve overcome challenges.

Here are 10 questions (in no particular order) keeping credit union leaders up at night and how the movement is responding.

 

 

 

No. 1: Is it enough to be a fast follower?

Several years ago, USALLIANCE Financial Credit Union faced a challenge familiar to many credit unions: how to compete with larger financial institutions and offer world-class service and convenient access in the digital channel.

To solve this problem, the New York-based credit union partnered with several fintech startup companies to offer services and delivery channels rivaling those of even the largest banking institutions in the country.

Learn more in “The Fintech Revolution And Creative Collaboration.”

No. 2: How can we make the member experience easy?

Mobile isn't just a channel anymore; it's the preferred channel of more than half of consumers. But offering mobile banking and lots of apps isn't enough. Credit unions also must offer a consistent member experience across channels. That’s not easy, but it can be done.

Two credit unions operating in different regions and serving different memberships have established specific tactics, strategies, and best practices for how to create a consistent member experience in the mobile channel.

Learn more in “How To Boost Mobile Banking.”

No. 3: How can we attract the best talent?

As the country’s labor market tightens, large non-financial employers — including Starbucks, GE, and McDonald’s — have promised bonuses, minimum wage increases, and 401(k) enhancements to attract talent.

Credit unions are getting in on the action, too. HR departments are combining wages, bonuses, and retirement with telecommuting, quiet rooms, and family leave to build better benefits packages.

Learn more in “6 Ways To Build A Better Benefits Package.”

In Northern California, where the war for talent is particularly fierce, Patelco Credit Union has taken its HR offense online. The credit union felt its Glassdoor star rating turned off prospective employees and was not reflective of Patelco’s culture. So, the credit union sharpened its social strategy and encouraged employees to rate and review the credit union.

Learn more in “Better Hires: A Glassdoor Strategy In California.”

No. 4: How can we make homeownership more affordable?

There are many costs associated with homeownership, but the initial expense of a down payment and other upfront costs are often the largest hurdles for first-time homebuyers, especially those in the low-to-middle income bracket. Luckily, grants, gifts, and other assistance can help would-be homebuyers fulfill their American dream.

For the past three years, Arizona's TruWest Credit Union has dispensed funds from the Workforce Initiative Subsidy for Homeownership (WISH) grant program, run by the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco.

Learn more in “Make A WISH. Buy A Home.

New York City and Silicon Valley are two of the most expensive mortgage markets in the country, but New York University Federal Credit Union and San Mateo Credit Union have developed the right mix of products to help members buy homes. Although these cooperatives differ greatly in size, both credit unions use a mix of homeowner education, flexible but responsible terms, and down payment assistance to help members with more mortgage than salary afford homes in the Big Apple and Silicon Valley.

Learn more in: “How Credit Unions From The Big Apple To Silicon Valley Help Members Buy Homes.”

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No. 5: Can our technology take us where we need to go?

Soon after Mike Wettrich arrived as CEO at Education First Credit Union, he knew something wasn’t quite right with the technology at his new cooperative. Wettrich brought in new IT talent, who discovered the Ohio credit union’s network was hopelessly outdated, out of compliance, insecure, and near complete collapse.

One year and one major upgrade later, Education First now has a scalable, compliant, and adaptable network.

Learn more in “$500,000. 2 IT Directors. 1 Major Upgrade.”

No. 6: What skills do workers need? How can we help them gain those skills?

Looking to nurture business intelligence skills across its organization, Wings Financial Credit Union in Minnesota launched an internal practitioner program that trains employees to query data and prepare visualizations — serious skills for the modern employee.

Learn more in “How To Embed Analytical Minds Across An Organization.”

In October 2014, Rivermark Community Credit Union opened its first member resource center — a branch evolution that replaces in-person tellers with video technology that connects members to off-site staff. To maintain a personal touch in the branch, universal employees greet members, open new accounts, process loans, and more.

Soon after introducing the new staffing model, Rivermark realized it had overlooked a training gap. Historically, the Portland, OR, credit union had paired new tellers with veteran ones for on-the-job training, but new universal tellers had no opportunity for peer training. So, the credit union got creative.

Learn more in “Peer Mentors Help New Branches Get Up And Running.”

Today’s digital technology has ushered in the fourth industrial revolution, and automation in the workforce is blurring the lines between physical and digital realities. This revolution is not about what technology can do; it’s about what workers can do with technology. There’s opportunity for credit unions to help their members find a place in this new world, where technology operates hand in hand with human capital.

Learn more in the infographic “Automation In The Workforce.”

No. 7: What products fit into the financial lives of younger members?

This question has no shortage of answers. For its part, CreditUnions.com has been digging into the viewpoints of Callahan’s younger staff members via the My Generation blog.

Check out My Generation for more on what’s on the minds of first-time homebuyers, what the process looks like from the perspective of a millennial buyer, whether credit cards or payment apps will win the day, student lending, and retirement. In one case, these crazy kids even built a fictional credit union for millennials from scratch. Wild imaginating aside, the exercise does have valuable takeaways for the industry at large.

No. 8: What does the rise of autonomous cars mean for auto lending?

There’s one risk above all others on the horizon that has the possibility of disrupting the cooperative business model and wreaking havoc on liquidity in unprecedented ways. Autonomous vehicles, also called driverless cars, will not only fundamentally change how people get around, they’ll also change attitudes and behaviors toward owning a car in the first place. Of course, risk also brings opportunity.

Learn more in “Caution: Disruption Ahead.”

No. 9: What IS a credit union? How can we capitalize on that?

Across 2018, the senior leaders at Callahan & Associates have been asking tough questions. These questions have no easy or comfortable answers, but they still need asking. Questions like: Credit Unions Matter. But Do Members Care?; How Well Do You Tell The Credit Union Story?; and Are Credit Unions ‘All’ About Their Members?

Through this series, CreditUnions.com hopes to inspire the movement to promote the cooperative difference, improve the member experience, reconsider threats and opportunities, and more.

No. 10: What’s the role of secondary capital at credit unions?

Secondary capital supports lending and financial services as well as buffers against the impact of potential losses. As of fourth quarter 2017, 70 credit unions, or 2.8% of low income credit unions, had tapped a total of $223.4 million in secondary capital. These cooperatives are putting that capital to good use.

Learn more in “Secondary Capital Helps An Oregon Credit Union Seize The Moment” and “A Capital Initiative At Fairfax County Credit Union.”

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July 30, 2018


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