CUNA president and CEO Jim Nussle says he’s not pessimistic but realistic when he asks whether credit unions will still be around a decade from now.
“Our future relevance is in jeopardy. Our future is at stake,” Nussle said Monday during the general session on the second day of America’s Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
While credit unions are posting record numbers in membership, loans, and market share, marketplace disruptors can come along and change that quickly.
“Look at Kodak, Borders Books, Sears. Did they meet in this room and pat themselves on the backs about how great they were doing? We don’t want to be the next footnote in Wikipedia,” Nussle told the attendees gathered in a conference center ballroom in Caesars Palace.
Nussle then laid out CUNA’s advocacy and awareness plans and said that credit unions need to leverage their combination of size, scale, and member focus to continue to thrive.
“We’re already set up to meet the challenges. We’re networked, fintech, and human tech,” the CUNA CEO said, “but we need to tell our story. We need to show how we’re relevant today to be relevant tomorrow.”
Put another way, credit unions need to enchant, said the morning session’s keynote speaker, marketing evangelist Guy Kawasaki. That means being a likable, trustworthy, innovative disruptor, and telling people why that’s so.
“Don’t just tell them what your product does. Tell them how your product changes lives,” said the prolific author and one-time Apple brand guru.
In an example reminiscent of the “Jobs to be Done” theory of disruptive innovation put forward by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, Kawasaki pointed to an app now being developed by DHL and Mercedes-Benz involving the automaker’s Smart car.
The delivery driver uses the app to open the car trunk and leave packages there, wherever it’s parked, instead of knocking on the door of someone who’s not home, or waiting at home for the package that never seems to arrive.
“That’s elegant. That’s enchanting,” Kawasaki said. That gets the job done.
That’s all well and good, observed one attendee, “but you can’t enchant someone about a credit union until they know what a credit union is.” Ola Anise, president and CEO of Azalea City Credit Union ($25.1M, Mobile, AL), said that’s his goal with everyone who comes through the doors at his three branches.
“We need to define ourselves from the beginning,” he said.
“People come in here and they know we’re a financial institution and that someone told them to go to the credit union, but a lot of times that’s it,” Anise said. “We tell them how we’re a co-op, people helping each other meet their financial needs.”
New members are told they’re now part of the credit union family, a democratic organization of member-owners, each with one vote that counts the same whether the member has $25 or $1 million on deposit.
The story also includes the lower rates and personalized service that they can expect.
That’s relevant. That’s enchanting.