Are credit unions truly member-centric?
That's a tougher question to answer than the movement might want to admit.
This year, the senior leaders at Callahan & Associates are focusing on a big idea through commentary, speaking engagements, on-site presentations, and more. Our big idea? Pushing credit unions to ask tough questions in 2018.
The tough question I’d like to explore is whether credit unions are truly member-centric or are they hiding behind a wall of words. How does a credit union determine into which camp it falls? And how can more move into the former?
Because credit unions are member-owned, there’s a tendency to think that everything they do is for members. It’s easy to hide behind those words and not actually live them. But members know the difference.
Sure, a credit union might offer the savings and loan products and delivery channels that today’s consumers expect. And its rates might be better, its loan terms a little more flexible.
But that’s just table stakes. Being member-centric means more than that. It means understanding the changes and challenges members are experiencing and having the imagination and institutional agility to respond. And sometimes it means putting the membership as a whole ahead of an individual member.
To get there, you have to ask tough questions — of yourself and of them. Bring members into the process, engage them in new ways to find out what they need and want, and then figure out together how to deliver.
What’s The Big Idea?
Asking tough questions will help the credit union movement flourish. Make Callahan’s Commentary on CreditUnions.com a regular stop for insight on thinking differently about tough questions and framing strategies for success.
In It To Win It
The battle for consumers’ business is often won at the margins. Credit unions have their core membership, but frankly, it’s aging. So, who's at the margins? Those are the people who see a financial institution only as a place for their direct deposit. They go elsewhere for their economic life — for their mortgages, everyday purchases, and cash flow.
That’s a big margin.
Americans between the ages of 20-36 now form the largest of all demographics. For survival, credit unions need to be thinking strategically and tactically about how to deeply, and for the long-term, engage this substantial group. That can start by considering what the preceding generation is looking for.
I fall smack in the middle of Generation X — roughly those between the ages of 37-57. We are at our prime borrowing, saving, and planning years, and we're not as technologically challenged as you might think. I haven’t visited a branch in years. Instead, I move money around weekly using Venmo and use RDC for those random checks I receive. You’re likely to see me on the sidelines of the soccer pitch with my Square reader taking credit card payments for team funding and missing a key play while scrolling through Zillow listings.