Each New Year brings a new opportunity to reinvent both yourself and your business. Yet what would you say if you were asked to create a New Year’s resolution for the cooperative industry as a whole?
To answer this question, Callahan & Associates surveyed cooperative professionals and the individuals who support them as to what they would like to see this industry accomplish within the next one, five, or 10 years. Then, we asked what the individual players that make up the industry must do in order to help achieve these goals. Responses were detailed and diverse.
Some individuals wanted more community charters, some wanted to reduce interest rate risk, and some wanted to increase awareness and education efforts. A few just wanted credit unions to survive the next 10 years. But in the end, six main themes were overwhelmingly repeated.
I Resolve...To Differentiate From Banks
"For the credit union movement to continue to grow, the public in general needs to understand that industry. Even now I have friends and family who ask me what is the difference between a bank and a credit union."
— Tim Wright, sales manager at eDOC Innovations
"Don’t try and look like a bank because you might get what you don’t want."
— Richard Webb, former CEO of Atlantic Financial Federal Credit Union ($92M, Hunt Valley, MD)
"I hope to see our industry continue to rise up as a preferred first choice for consumers. We have a great story to tell and [individual credit unions] need to be in the arena fighting more aggressively against our adversaries."
— Todd Nelson, chief strategy officer at HealthCare Associates Credit Union ($268M, Naperville, IL)
"Maintain clear separation from banks. Some credit unions, associations, and advocacy groups seem to be working to make credit unions just like banks but with a different name."
— Jennifer Roberts, senior vice president and chief operating officer at O Bee Credit Union ($179M, Tumwater, WA)
"I would like to see the industry capitalize on the momentum of the recent banking dissatisfaction and do more to promote the difference between credit unions and for-profit financial institutions."
— Carol Fenner, sales analyst for PSCU Financial Services
"Distinguish the industry separately from other financial institutions and raise the bar on compliance, performance, and quality of service."
— Jane Brunton, assistant vice president of internal audit at Seattle Metropolitan Credit Union ($595M, Seattle, WA)
I Resolve...To Increase Market Share
"I think there is another opportunity brewing — Main Street is at a tipping point with political-banking elites, income disparity, etc. and change is coming."
— Scott Simpson, sales executive for CUNA Mutual Group
"Doing so is indicative of seeing through our mission and being more effective at communicating that difference [and] benefit to consumers."
— Bill Clancy, vice president of retail strategy at Lake Michigan Credit Union ($3B, Grand Rapids, MI)
"We lag so far behind the banking industry despite some of our advantages. Get more information out to the public about credit unions in general."
— Jerry Gomez, executive vice president at Advance Financial Federal Credit Union ($153M, Schererville, IN)
I Resolve...To Increase Cooperative Arrangements
"Credit unions are cooperatives and at times it can appear that we may not be living up to that concept. Are there opportunities to help the entire industry serve their own unique niche without losing their identity?"
— Russell Sumner, vice president of information technology at Entrust Financial Credit Union ($72M, Richmond, VA)
"Cooperation among ourselves would benefit the entire movement. Shared branching needs to go global and everyone needs to offer it. We also need a national message on the value proposition of credit unions."
— Mary Beth Wilcher, CEO of Erie Federal Credit Union ($387M, Erie, PA)
"I would like to see a single sign-on portal providing access to the various credit unions of all the regions in the U.S. This would ensure that the user doesn’t have to move around looking for data and also help credit unions to route members to specific sites with their membership details."
— Anupam Singh, banking service provider
"Continue to focus on member value through services that meet their needs by increasing cooperative arrangements."
— Richard Perry, chairman of the board of directors at Birmingham-Bloomfield Credit Union ($56M, Birmingham, MI)
"Collaborate together to teach the public about what credit unions do. Everyone must come together and put something toward achieving this."
— Polina Yakusheva, marketing manager at Fitzsimons Credit Union ($165M, Aurora, CO)
I Resolve...To Improve Our Technology
"I would like to see the credit union industry advance through technology advancements … meaning that the credit union are able to offer complex mobile banking and fiscal education programs, while maintaining their unique member-focused business structure."
— Jillian May, sales associate for Experian, Inc.
"I want to see the credit union industry come together and work on the whole payment initiative. The world is changing. We need to make sure that we’re at the table and keeping up with what’s going on with payments, or we stand the risk of being ‘Kodaked’ out of the market."
— Bill Vogeney, senior vice president and chief lending officer at Ent Federal Credit Union ($3.9B, Colorado Springs, CO)
I Resolve...To See The Tax Exemption Settled
"Settle the tax exemption debate once and for all! Credit unions provide a valuable service to the general public, services that will not be available if the tax exemption is ended."
— Jacqueline Jackson, director of risk and compliance at Century Federal Credit Union ($344M, Cleveland, OH)
"Solidify tax free status once and for all!"
— Rob Persaud, senior vice president of marketing at CommunityAmerica Credit Union ($1.9B, Kansas City, MO)
"I don’t think many people on the front lines such as tellers realize the issue affects them as an employee and as a customer. I think they think it’s an issue left to the executives and governmental affairs people. I’d like to see more buy-in from them."
— Mary Beth King, communications coordinator for the Credit Union Association of New Mexico
I Resolve...To Compete With Banks
"More market share in relation to banks. Better awareness on what credit unions are — [they are] more sophisticated than they are perceived."
— Robert Finch, director of Austin operations at Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union ($5,7B, Live Oak, TX)
"I know from personal experience that all things being equal, credit union members today would prefer getting their mortgage through their credit union than [big banks]."
— Rick Marshall, Midwest Loan Services Inc.
"Become more widely recognized and understood as a major financial institution."
— Rod Flowers, vice president of human resources, State Employees Credit Union (SECU) of Maryland ($2.7B, Linthicum, MD)