How your credit union can avoid death by Godzilla

Summer movie season is almost upon us and as an admitted (and proud) sci-fi and superhero nerd, I’m looking forward to the blockbuster. And while the summer movie madness usually kicks off on Memorial Day weekend, this year an old friend rises from the ashes a couple of weeks earlier to kick off things.

I’m talking about everyone’s favorite radioactive fire-breathing, building-stomping, monster-fighting titan from Tokyo — Godzilla. While I haven’t been a huge Godzilla fan up until this point (the horrible 1998 reboot starring Ferris Bueller versus Godzilla didn’t help), the new trailers have me turned on enough to give this one a shot.

While the new movie looks promising, we’re all sure to see at least a few of the staples from the gospel of Godzilla that make this 60-year-old franchise so endearing. These will probably include crowds of people running and screaming, a relatively impotent military response and plenty of awesome Godzilla roars.

This got me to thinking about the old adage of “the elephant in the room.” I think, in our digital age, we could also just as easily think in terms of “the Godzilla in the room.” In other words, what 500 foot-tall radioactive super-lizards bent on destruction are stomping around your credit union, only to be ignored in hopes they will go away?

If we want our credit unions is to grow and prosper, we must be ready to ask frank and difficult questions. What are the things in your shop that stop your credit union from evolving and becoming a better financial institution for both members and employees? Here are a few examples.

  • No succession planning. For decades, credit unions were blessed by experienced and dedicated professionals that filled the roles of CEO and president. While I’m certain this trend will continue with the new generation, too many credit unions are reluctant to plan early for these inevitable transitions. As the older generation increasingly moves into the retirement phase of their lives, credit unions must prepare now to help ease the process when new and younger CEOs and presidents take the helm.
  • Focused on the past and not the future. It’s great that you had terrific loan volume numbers last year. I’m thrilled you opened a record number of checking accounts five years ago. And it really was pretty cool when you finally got on board with online banking in 2004. Guess what? That’s all in the past and as nice as it is to relive it, it doesn’t mean a hill of beans in your future. Progressive credit unions with an eye on survival do not rest on the laurels of their past achievements. Rather, they keep a steady eye on the future, planning and working towards even greater achievements.
  • Focusing on numbers and not members. You cannot let the pursuit of hitting goals and other numbers affect every decision-making process in your credit union. You must think more long-term. It’s vitally important that you focus on your staff. Yes, goals and numbers are important — however, if you take care of your people, they will take care of you, and you’ll have profit. Work now to develop a vision that is clear, consistent and unique.
  • Resistance to technology. This technology thing isn’t going away. Your members, across a wide spectrum of age, gender, race and socioeconomic status, increasingly look to mobile technology offerings as they consider their primary financial institution. If your credit union, for whatever reason, is resistant to technology and lacks the essentials modern consumers expect, you’ll find yourself quickly left in the dust of smarter financial institutions that were not so short-sighted. New technology is scary. Ignoring new technology is even scarier.
  • Lack of new product offerings. Your members expect innovation when it comes to products and services. You simply cannot be risk averse. If you haven’t offered a new product or service in the last year, odds are you are losing the competitive edge members and potential members seek when considering a financial institution. One way to help create fresh ideas for new products and services is a comprehensive marketing audit in which an outside professional looks at the sum total of all your current product offerings and give suggestions for future ones.

This summer, Godzilla fans will once again be treated to a multicity, tail-swishing, building-smashing beat down. And even though that monster is 500-feet-tall and not exactly invisible, a few of the movie characters will undoubtedly bemoan “why didn’t we see this coming?” The ideas above are just a few of the Godzillas in the room your credit union cannot afford to ignore. Only you know which ones are specific to you. Avoid them at your peril.

And whatever you do, don’t plan a vacation to Tokyo during Godzilla season.

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner helping businesses such as credit unions and banks achieve their goals with strategic marketing insights and energized training. Mark ... Web: Details