Chad Knott was an 18-year-old college student working as a temporary teller 30 years ago at what is now Credit Union ONE ($1.6B, Ferndale, MI) when, during his first Friday on the job, a technology mishap made him question his future there.
“The mainframe crashed early in the day and was unavailable until 7 p.m.,” Knott says. “After closing, we spent several hours inputting the hand-written transactions and balancing out. I wondered whether this was the job I wanted.”
Turns out, it was.
“More than 29 years have passed since that first week at the credit union,” says the suburban Detroit cooperative’s vice president for market intelligence, product design, and growth. “I’m appreciative for the opportunity to grow in many capacities.”
Here, Knott talks about what he does in his role that he assumed in late 2017.
Why did Credit Union ONE create your role? What challenges or opportunities does it address?
Chad Knott: Credit Union ONE is focused on staying relevant in the hypercompetitive financial world. The role is future-oriented, seeing what’s coming down the road in various disciplines, then educating and executing on what needs to happen to maintain member relevance.
I’m currently involved in a significant reimagining of our checking accounts. Separate pieces of our checking program have maintained their state for many years. The member journey, as well as product features and benefits, must evolve to gain a strategic advantage and exceed member satisfaction. Value creation here leads to greater member participation in the cooperative.
With many choices at consumers’ fingertips, individuals will take their business elsewhere in no time if they feel they’re not receiving sufficient value. This is an opportunity as well as a challenge.
Who do you report to and who reports to you?
CK: I report to Donna Reid, our chief experience officer. I currently have no direct reports; however, I do lead a cross-functional products subcommittee dedicated to product development and profitability. The group includes a variety of management team members from areas including retail, real estate lending, training, accounting, commercial lending, and administration.
CU QUICK FACTS
Credit Union ONE
HQ: Ferndale, MI
Data as of 09.30.20
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 13.4%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 1.2%
What makes you a great fit for this job?
CK: In my tenure with the credit union, I’ve held roles in retail, IT, digital, the contact center, and marketing. I’ve been part of many departmental and cross-functional teams that assess solutions, create efficiencies, and implement new processes covering all areas of our business. This experience has helped me think holistically about solutions that fit our overall strategic vision.
I’m also nearing the end of a two-year venture in Filene’s i3 program. This opportunity has provided exposure to the Filene Method of ideas, innovation, and implementation. Thinking outside the typical day-to-day environment, bringing in outside ideas, and applying them to crafting solutions to benefit members and the credit union is an important capability to bring to the table to help Credit Union ONE gain a strategic market advantage.
What’s your daily routine?
CK: My routine varies depending on what items are on the priority list. I like to review our daily member survey responses and take note of regular themes that might require attention and improvement. I try to spend time daily reviewing industry news and ideas and forward applicable articles and thoughts to appropriate areas of the business. I participate in teams across the organization that require preparation for solutions and project input on a regular basis.
On a personal note, working from home the past nine months, I have an ongoing wellness goal of completing an exercise routine every other day and taking brisk 30-minute-plus walks four or five times a week.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed strategies and tactics at Credit Union ONE? What has been your role in that response?
CK: Credit Union ONE, like most financial institutions, saw a substantial increase in deposits in conjunction with the federal stimulus shortly after the onset of the pandemic. As market rates moved, the credit union needed to not only monitor but also adapt to market change. The products subcommittee has kept a watchful eye on product rates and has had a concerted focus on liability management in 2020.
As part of Filene i3, our i3 sub team shifted gears in March to focus on remote work and the importance of trust in the work-from-home relationship. This research provided insights that I relayed back to a core team at the credit union as we adapted to provide appropriate support for remote employees and updated remote work policies.
Credit Union ONE also implemented a new digital banking system that went live in May. I was tasked with remotely leading project meetings with our marketing team through the campaign pieces and member communication efforts. We successfully prepared members for and through the transition to new online and mobile banking features and functionality.
None of this was done on my own. I’m fortunate to have great coworkers and senior leadership who each take ownership of their responsibilities and provide excellent support.
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How do you track success in your job?
CK: I meet regularly with my supervisor to confirm that organizational objectives and goals are being met where I have a role. Success might be directly related to metrics following project implementation or financial metrics related to our product budgetary goals. I view success as being able to adapt to the needs of the organization into roles where I’m open to learning and can collaborate with other stakeholders to reach or exceed defined objectives.
What is the most significant advancement you’ve steered in this specific role?
CK: The reimagining of our checking products and gaining organizational commitment toward changing components of the program. As mentioned, we’ve had the existing program in place for a while. It’s been an iterative process to gain acceptance of these changes, and it’s been rewarding to see the positive impact we’ve had on our staff, members, and technology.
What is the biggest goal for you and your team in the months ahead?
CK: Definitely the top goal for my area in the foreseeable future is continuing to track and adjust our checking program to keep that progress going.
How does being at the same organization your whole working life influence your passion for the credit union and its members?
CK: I embrace the credit union philosophy of people helping people and strive to provide the best service I can internally for employees that have questions or need assistance. I have members I’ve worked with in the past that still reach out to me with questions and concerns. I might not always have an immediate resolution, but I get them an answer or connect them with the right person in Credit Union ONE who can provide the solution.
How do you stay current with topics that fall under your role?
CK: I have more email coming in than I can handle on a daily basis in respect to information, ideas, and news. I’m a member of CUNA and CUES councils and receive daily, weekly, or periodic financial industry updates from CUtoday.info, CUInsight, CUTimes, CUES, CUNA News, American Banker, Financial Brand, BAI, Finovate, Credit Union Magazine, Raddon, Filene, Callahan, Crain’s, and others. This news assists me in keeping current as well as looking forward.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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