According to the Chinese Calendar 2018 is the Year of the DOG. The dog represents loyalty and generosity. The dog is an ethical and idealistic sign and the year which takes his name will make grow the grade of social awareness. So happiness and prosperity trends with the improving economy will be a harbinger for credit union leadership as we head into the New Year.
With recent political, economic and regulatory changes to the American landscape, the new year bodes well for exceptional opportunity which credit unions should take full advantage. Overall many aspects of these changes have caused many of us to shift and use more new technology and innovation in dealing with our financial situations and engagement in serving members.
There is good news these days. The stock market is at an all-time high and there is an upward GDP trend. Overall US credit union membership has hit 106 million plus. Loan growth is increasing. Net interest margins and operating expenses are improving. Inflation is relatively flat and the housing market is recovering. Regulation is loosening and the national unemployment rate is the lowest in decades.
2018 is the year for credit unions to really continue to step up and help members respond to new changes and challenges (student debt/rising interest rates/cyber security issues) to improve and add comfort to their financial lifestyle.
I would offer these “Super 8 in 18” suggestions for setting a course to prosper in the New Year:
- Work the Back Yard. Focus on deepening relationships (more wallet share) with your current members. Get closer and really get to know your members. Offer one stop financial services shopping and don’t make your members jump through whoop s to do business. Continue to engage in community socially responsible causes showing the credit union difference.
- 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.
- Have a Collaboration, Partnership, Alliance and Merger Policy/Strategy.
- Train staff to cross serve/sell and wow members at every touch point opportunity 7x24x365. Embrace being a “Member- Centric” CU. All staff, volunteers, vendors and members should be advocates for your credit union.
- 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 scores/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.
- Embrace Innovation: Mobile/Tablet Technology and Social Media. Be Appilicious–Utilize innovative ideas to create “Apps for This and That” especially for Hispanic Members! Teach members to serve themselves via technology. A CU Alexa will join the Apple watch coming to members households and vehicles.
- Offer Suite of Services to help Different Demographic Members. Tax/Legal (Wills) Services/End of Life (Burial) loans/Long term Care for senior members. Look for Non-traditional/Lifestyle Products/Services that your members could really benefit. Set up Retirement Service Center programs to help boomers fund their Golden Years (Direct deposit SS Checks/Debit Card).Reach out to young adults and women via Micro Lending and Small Business Services.
- Stop asking Gen XYZ 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. Find ways to help them ease their burden of student debt and offer financial counseling/programs.
This is the time to not only to survive in the future but to thrive! Reach out and develop a different optimistic strategic mind set about growth focusing on maintaining our differentiation–why we do what we do versus what we do in our communities will distinguish us from the rest and help us prosper.
Our Credit unions will need to step up, promote our purpose and focus on our commitment to members to stay ahead and not let this opportunistic financial services marketplace go to the dogs.
Happy New Year!