“14 in 14” lucky thrival credit union growth strategies

According to the Chinese calendar 2014 is the Year of the Horse. The horse is considered strong and naturally lucky when it comes to money resources. So using good “Horse Sense” about dealing with the economy and financial market place will be a harbinger for credit union leadership as we head into the New Year.

Overall many aspects of the current American economic landscape have caused many of us to shift and use more common sense in dealing with our financial situations and engagement in serving members. The credit union movement has always faced challenging times. However the times we are facing can be considered critical for the future growth and survival of our credit unions and the millions of members who have entrusted us as their guardian financial stewards.

There is mixed good news these days. The stock market is hovering around all time highs and overall credit union membership and loan growth is increasing. Net interest margins and operating expenses are improving. Inflation is flat, interest rates are at low levels and the housing market is recovering. However there is high unemployment, stagnant household income, taxes are going up and the impact of Obamacare. Regulation is getting tighter and more uncertain, CEO and Board leadership are in transition and a high percentage of young adults are not aware they can join a credit union.

This is the year for credit unions to really step up and help members respond to the “New Economic Normal” to improve their financial lifestyle and well being. I would offer these 14 in ‘14 suggestions for setting a course to not just survive but thrive:   

1)   Work the Back Yard. Focus on deepening relationships (more wallet share) with your current members. Get close and really get to know your members.

2)   Review your Fee structures for market place adjustments. I am not suggesting we gouge our members, only that we alter fees based on the local marketplace. We still will be the best deal in town.

3)   Have a Collaboration, Partnership, Alliance and Merger Policy/Strategy.

4)   Train staff to cross serve/sell and wow members at every touch point opportunity 7x24x365. Embrace being a “Member- Centric” CU. All staff, volunteers and vendors should be advocates for your credit union.

5)   Use Good On Boarding practices to Reconnect and Engage current and new members by offering incentives–(Buy local Groupon/ miles/reward programs/prepaid cards/cash back/free credit reports) and concierge services to empower them to connect. Give members real reasons for being a member, not just a customer. Membership should have its privileges. Offer Certificate of Member Ownership/Toll Free 800 Member Care number.

6)   Create a strategy to reach out to serve new Americans and the underserved. We are at the point now for action in really reaching out to consumers (Hispanics/Immigrants) in our communities and bringing them into our credit union family.

7)   Embrace Mobile/Tablet Technology and Social Media. Utilize innovative ideas to create “Apps for This and That” and do not fear Facebook and learn to Tweet!

8)   Offer Tax/Legal (Wills) Services and End of Life (Burial) loans. Look for non traditional services that your members could really benefit.

9)   Reach out to young adults and women via Micro Lending, Small Business Services, HSA’s and Lifestyle Lending products.

10) Consider starting a CUSO to offer Insurance/Travel/HR/IT/DP/Products & Services.

11) Stop asking Gen Y why they do that? Make it a strategic imperative to appeal to and attract more Youth and Young Adults. The under 30 demographic is your next generation of lending business and lifelong members for your credit union.

12) Focus more on diverse non-interest income streams (Debit Cards/GAP coverage/Credit/Debt Protection/Investments/Brokerage Services) to help improve your bottom line.

13) Get the right staff in the right seats on your Credit Union Bus to serve members effectively. Empower them to serve as well as teach members how to use your technology to self serve themselves.

14) Reach out to Boomer/Senior Members with Retirement Planning and Long Term Health Care products/services.

If we are not only to survive in the future but thrive, we will have to develop a different strategic mind set about growth. Our Leaders will have to strategically focus more on Innova-tion vs Tradi-tion and execute faster at a greater level than the competition. Credit unions will need to fine tune, hone and focus on our commitment to members to keep up in the fast paced changing financial services derby. So tighten your saddles for the wild ride ahead and Happy New Year!

John Vardalas

John Vardalas

John A. Vardalas CAE, CUDE is Founder/CEO of The AmericanBoomeR Group, a Madison, Wisconsin based speaking/consulting firm. He is also a frequent speaker and facilitator of strategic planning ... Web: www.theamericanboomer.com Details