Credit unions must capitalize on change to succeed

People like to say “change is the only constant.” They often say this with an air of resignation, as if there is only so much effort we can be expected to put into figuring out the world around us, because it’s only going to change again. I believe the financial crisis made many of us even more fatalistic about our lack of control in the financial industry.

But if we don’t actively look for opportunities to leverage the change around us, we are virtually ensuring we will be left behind. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy. Not only should we look to leverage change, we don’t have to await its arrival to act. The future is always already here if you know where to look.

Take Apple’s recent launch of Apple Pay, a technology using near field communication, or NFC, to enable mobile tokenized payments at the point of sale. Smaller card issuers are better positioned than they may think to leverage this and other developments affecting the way consumers pay. Financial institutions have the ability to provide consumers with information those consumers desperately need to decide whether and when it makes sense to buy and pay – what their balance is and whether they can afford the purchase they’re about to make. If credit unions leverage their unique data to better educate and inform members making daily money management decisions, those credit unions will become indispensable to those members—in ways that even Apple can’t match. In fact, leveraged smartly, Apple Pay paves the way for credit unions to offer more meaningful mobile banking and personal finance apps that encompass and give context to the expanding world of mobile payments.

Technology is now inseparable from growth – and credit unions are poised to take advantage of burgeoning opportunities at hand and to effect change in their institutions that will benefit their members in lasting ways.

One of the best ways to approach any difficult change is to talk to the people who are facing or have faced the same change. NAFCU is once again gathering credit union representatives to talk about technological opportunities, member service, marketing strategies and much more at its Strategic Growth Conference, scheduled March 11-13 in my neck of the woods: Savannah, GA.

The conference will feature speakers talking about large-scale growth credit-union case studies, the impact of mobile devices on financial marketing, and the mechanics of multi-channel experiences that better meet members’ needs.

I’ll be speaking about how technology is transforming financial services – not only in terms of attracting new members from the millennial generation, but better serving existing members through new innovations. Mobile banking, mobile wallets and even voice-activated financial technologies are already here – it’s up to financial institutions to wade through the options and decide what will best serve their members and propel their institutions’ growth.

As I said, change can be overwhelming, especially when change keeps coming whether we like it or not. But if you can leverage the opportunities made available to us by change in financial technology, you can effect positive changes for you and your members: better member service, more member growth and a credit union with a secure future.

I look forward to seeing you in Savannah!

Lee Wetherington

Lee Wetherington

Lee Wetherington is Director of Strategic Insight for Jack Henry & Associates (JKHY: NASDAQ). Lee directs the development of actionable insight and strategy for the financial services industry at large. ... Details