For me, 2015 was a year of personal achievement, including conquering the more than 9,000-foot-high Triglav peak in Slovenia, my second home away from home. It’s no Everest, I know, but for someone with a lifelong fear of heights, it might as well have been.
And the experience got me thinking: What are the biggest ‘Everests’ that credit unions around the country face? Keeping up with better-funded, for-profit competitors? New regulations they have neither the time nor the money to sufficiently tackle? The challenge of providing formal, reliable financial service while not becoming so rigid that employee and member engagement dies on the vine?
The newest 2Q 2015 edition of Callahan’s Credit Union Strategy & Performance tackles these issues and many, many more. With this publication now on desks around the country and available to subscribers online, here are five quick-hit lessons we learned during production.
#1 Anything Banks Can Do, Credit Unions Can Do Better
This is hardly a revelation for most credit unions, but a special infographic in our Industry Performance section helps provide the hard numbers needed to back it up. In fact, cooperatives are currently beating out their for-profit competitors in critical areas like loan growth, capital reserves, and delinquency rate. The infographic also casts a spotlight on some areas, such as efficiency, where additional improvements are needed. But hey, no one is perfect, right?
#2 You Don’t Have To Be A New Company To Think Like A Startup
Mazuma Credit Union ($535.6M, Overland Park, KS) is nearly seven decades old, yet its newfound predilection for big personalities, non-traditional work environments, and a fun-yet-fastidious approach to financial services is on full display in our “Anatomy Of” profile. Whimsical touches like an “undersea” meeting room and frisbee breaks on the lawn help keep employees happy, which leads to a happier membership, but Mazuma doesn’t shirk its balance sheet either. By successfully mixing fun and function, this organization is ensuring that — unlike most startups — it will certainly be around for the long haul.
#3 TRID Implementation Was A Starting Point, Not A Finish Line
Our Ideas In Action section provides numerous strategies for adapting to a changing real estate marketplace, including construction loans, realtor rebates, and even six potential TRID traps to watch out for now that the new requirements are in place. For example, TRID’s shortened turnaround times can go hand in hand with the need for more staff or a change in roles within an institution, says Amanda Phillips, director of compliance offerings counsel for Accenture Mortgage Cadence. And because credit unions are lending at a historic pace, there might soon be a shortfall of experienced lending and compliance employees on the market, so plan ahead now.
#4 Embracing Big Data Doesn’t Mean Biting Off More Than You Can Chew
In Technology@CU, we take a look at the Cooper-Leavell Matrix, devised by the respective senior marketing analyst and vice president of information systems at Charlotte Metro Credit Union ($343.9M, Charlotte, NC). The grid helps separate out Big Data (what you can neither capture nor analyze), Middle Data (what you can capture or analyze but not both) and Little Data (what can be captured and analyzed). For example, one actionable piece of Little Data was the discovery that members who use either PayPal or iTunes are more profitable and do more card transactions than non-users. Soon after, Charlotte Metro began targeting those individuals with a $50 credit for each new credit card opened, just one of the reasons it now boasts a close to 12% penetration rate for that product.
#5 Sometimes Downtime Makes The Best Uptime
In our Diversions section, Callahan’s own Leigh Anne Terry shares business lessons that she and two friends learned after forming the national competitive barbecue team Old Virginia Smoke. Now with numerous national championships under their belt, these seasoned grill masters use the chilly Mid-Atlantic winters — when most competitors are temporarily dispersed and disbanded — to experiment with recipes and even hold mock competitions using real competitive judges. Credit unions, too, are frequently judged on their performance via regulator exams. But proactive organizations wisely use the time in between to seek out voluntary feedback from different sources, including social media, member surveys, focus groups, and industry workshops, in order to continually hone their recipe for success.