Tips To Make 2022 The Best Year Yet (Part 1)

Credit union leaders share how they plan to make the coming year a success — both by numbers and beyond.

 
 

As the credit union movement reaches the end of 2021, leaders from cooperatives large and small across the country are looking ahead to calibrate strategies for the next 12 months. With year two of the pandemic nearly over, they’re hoping to build on past practices to ensure a prosperous future.

Several leaders talked with CreditUnions.com to share what they hope to accomplish in 2022 and how they plan to get there. Here’s what they had to say.

This is part one of two. In part two, read insights from Greater Texas Federal Credit Union, Michigan State University FCU, and Resource One Credit Union.

RIVERWAYS CREDIT UNION

Scott Shults, President & CEO, Riverways Credit Union

Scott Shults has been president of 8,653-member Riverways Credit Union ($79.3M, Rolla, MO) since 2013. CreditUnions.com featured the small credit union and its big lineup of products and services in a July article titled “A Big Product List From A Small Credit Union.

It’s December 2022, and Riverways has had its best year ever. What does that look like?

Scott Shults: We achieved ROA of more than 1.10%, net member growth exceeding 6.0%, and employee turnover of less than 12%. We’ll also have successfully completed our core conversion with a live date of July 1, 2022.

Of course, it’s really December 2021. What are you doing now to bring that 2022 vision to life?

SS: We’re working to maintain loan growth at current or greater levels while balancing deposit growth from our expanded FOM. We’re also planning a full staff re-training this quarter and next. We’re investing in six new employees for our conversion to the Corelation core platform, and we’re enhancing employment value by providing a career map for every employee.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

SS: Invest more in our staff members’ careers and communicate more with our membership.

TEXAS TRUST CREDIT UNION

Jim Minge, President & CEO, Texas Trust Credit Union

Jim Minge has been president and CEO of Texas Trust Credit Union ($1.7B, Mansfield, TX) for 10 years. He also shared insight with CreditUnions.com in September in “6 Credit Unions On How They’ve Responded To The Delta Variant.

It’s December 2022, and Texas Trust has had its best year ever. What does that look like?

Jim Minge: Our employees are happy and motivated. They feel empowered to put the members first and have and use service standards that help them consistently provide exceptional service.

We’ve grown our engaged member base — we call these “True Blue” members — while exceeding our 2022 goals and consistently helping our members build brighter financial futures. We’ve celebrated our best year ever for direct loan origination, touching more member lives and helping them empower their dreams.

Of course, it’s really December 2021. What are you doing now to bring that 2022 vision to life?

JM: We’ve engaged the Disney Institute to help us develop service standards and find ways to consistently tell our loyal members “yes, we can do that AND we can also help you with this.”

We’re still in the early stages of this initiative but we feel primed to take our great service culture to an even higher level. We continue to focus on and celebrate member loyalty. We have made the True Blue membership focus a big part of our daily conversations, and we continue to focus on how we can work together to help our members build brighter financial futures.

We continue to look for ways to increase member loyalty and bring in new members who have the propensity to become loyal. Our data analytics team has done a tremendous job helping us understand and measure loyal member behavior and look for ways to bring in the “right” new members to support our growth goals.

We’ve also hired a new senior vice president of mortgage and business lending. His initial focus is to develop a plan to achieve a long-term sustainable mortgage growth that helps us take advantage of the huge Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan service area. Fun fact: If our market were a state, we’d be the 16th largest in the country.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

JM: My goal is to be a more focused and clear leader. As a team, we’re working to be clear about our priorities and measurable milestones of progress and avoid bright shiny objects. We all agree that we can do anything together but we can’t do everything.

UNIFY FINANCIAL FCU

Gordon Howe, President & CEO, UNIFY Financial FCU

Gordon Howe has been president and CEO of UNIFY Financial FCU ($3.6B, Torrance, CA) since 2005. The 265,452-member cooperative is now working to support cryptocurrency trading via bitcoin. To learn more about the credit union’s blockchain, read “Good Timing: Distributed Ledgers Launch During The Pandemic.

It’s December 2022, and UNIFY has had its best year ever. What does that look like?

Gordon Howe: First, return of membership growth. The pandemic really put a pause on consumers looking to move their financial relationships due to the uncertainty of the economy. Because many consumers deferred their loan payments or received stimulus payments, they needed their financial relationships to stay status quo.

Second, less of UNIFY’s revenue generated through member fees. Again, as a result of the pandemic, many financial institutions had to either reduce or eliminate several penalty fees. Many credit unions thought these fees would return after the pandemic, but market forces are actually driving these fees away.

Third, the continuation of members using our digital channels for loans, shares, and transactions. Most financial institutions experienced a huge spike in the number of existing members using their digital channels. I would love to see continued double-digit growth of our existing members shifting their interactions with us to our digital channels.

Of course, it’s really December 2021. What are you doing now to bring that 2022 vision to life?

GH: Each of these points pertains to the ones in the previous answer.

First, the way we’re going to attract and retain the next generation of members is to provide them with the kind of financial products they’re looking for, including access to cryptocurrency, digital credentials, and NFTs. We’ve established several fintech partnerships to develop that next generation of financial products and services.

Second, UNIFY has been working on replacing member penalty fees with value-added services that members are requesting that help generate income. That includes insurance, investments, and cryptocurrency.

Third, we are not only developing the next generation of products and services for our members but are also committed to providing them the best digital service experience. Even if you have the best products and services in the market, if they’re not easy to access and use, then the member will go somewhere else. This is really a journey for UNIFY since member expectations will continue to change over time.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

GH: UNIFY is focusing on reducing our occupancy space. With everyone forced to work from home during the pandemic, there was this sense that working from home was only going to be a temporary thing. However, we learned our team can be just as productive from home as they were in the office.

Therefore, we’ll still have some operational center space for employees who want to work in the office, but it will be a fraction of what we had prior to the pandemic.

This is part one of two. In part two, read insights from Greater Texas Federal Credit Union, Michigan State University FCU, and Resource One Credit Union.

VERMONT STATE EMPLOYEES CREDIT UNION

Rob Miller, President & CEO, VSECU

Rob Miller has been CEO at Vermont State Employees Credit Union ($1.1B, Montpelier, VT) since 2014. CreditUnions.com recently profiled the Green Mountain State cooperative in “VSECU Eyes A Green Future In Vermont.

It’s December 2022, and VSECU has had its best year ever. What does that look like?

Rob Miller: For starters, I hope we’ll be in a better place regarding COVID-19. Our organization continues to demonstrate tremendous resiliency, strength, and impact, but it’s been difficult for our people, members, and the communities we serve. Next year is VSECU’s 75th anniversary, and that would be a wonderful way to celebrate.

With this important milestone ahead of us, we hope to end next year with our membership even more engaged in our vision for greater financial, environmental, and social wellbeing. They will have shared their stories online and around the dinner table about how VSECU helped them achieve their goals and dreams. In doing so, they will attract new members to our cooperative and deepen their own relationships with us.

On the financial side, lending will continue to grow as the pandemic subsides, supporting our members who feel more confident and secure to dream big and pursue their futures. Our impact lending portfolio — loans that benefit people, planet, and prosperity — will grow to its largest percentage of total assets as we continue to focus on environmental and social outcomes for our members.

Of course, it’s really December 2021. What are you doing now to bring that 2022 vision to life?

RM: Our focus remains on our members, people, and communities, but with an eye to the future. Right now, our teams are working together to build plans and resources to achieve ambitious yet realistic goals. With rapid changes through the pandemic in how members engage with us, we are especially focused on implementing several service enhancements to create an extraordinary member experience.

What are your New Year’s resolutions?

RM: We resolve to continue putting people and purpose first. Our focus in 2021 was on the health, safety, and wellbeing of our members and staff. This has always been our commitment, but it came to the forefront over the past two years.

Ensuring the wellbeing of our credit union community has been a collective effort. We brought people together and listened to what they were experiencing before developing plans and policies.

By communicating effectively across our organization and to our members, we made sure we were on the same page and in this together. When we bring different perspectives to the table, we make better decisions, create a real sense of belonging, and better fulfill our purpose to improve the quality of life for members.

These interviews were edited and condensed.

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