Know your credit union, know your members, know the industry

Imagine that you and your family decided recently to take a road trip. The big day arrives … you put your suitcases, snacks, kids and pets in the car, and off you go!

Once you get to the outskirts of your town, your spouse who is driving says, “Now where?”

Without a GPS app or at the very least a road map, it’s not easy to get where you want to go if you haven’t been there before. You clearly know your destination … but what about the route?

This is why credit unions engage in strategic planning, which includes:

  • defining strategy or direction
  • setting priorities
  • focusing energy and resources
  • defining common goals for the organization
  • establishing agreement around intended outcomes/results
  • assessing and adjusting the organization’s direction in response to a changing environment

The strategic plan gives credit unions a place to record their mission, vision and values, as well as long-term goals and the action plans for reaching them. It’s the equivalent of the directions that you and your spouse forgot to devise before you departed on your imaginary journey.

Let’s say your credit union had a very strong fiscal year in commercial lending. Leadership feels that trying to ride that wave, with the idea of maybe even doubling the number of loans opened, makes sense. But if that strategy is implemented by telling your loan staff, “Great job this year, keep up the good work, and double it next year,” without a plan, uncertainties abound:

  • Will staff size need to be increased? If so, by how much?
  • What additional resources are needed, if any?
  • What statistical benchmarks will tell us if we are on track or not?
  • What effect will the pressure to double production have on a staff that is currently producing at an all-time high rate? 

Keys to a successful strategic plan include being aware of what is happening across industries and being future-focused. Such leaders make it a point to stay informed about changes that will drive their industry and market. This allows them and their teams to create the organization’s best future. 

Do you know what’s changing in terms of technology, regulations and your competitors in the financial industry? It can be tough to keep completely up to date because you don’t interact with the industry big picture every day like you do with what’s going on inside your walls.

One way to make sure your strategic plans have this key component is CUNA Environmental Scan (E-Scan). Its 10 trend-based chapters combine trends across industries, expert analysis and forecasting data to provide strategic planning guidance for credit union professionals. The insights in CUNA E-Scan provide actionable insights from industry experts and practitioners, so you can make timely, future-focused decisions that keep your credit union agile and ready to meet member needs. 

For example, IT security – including ransomware issues – is one of the 10 chapters. – The average “ransom” payment in 2020 was $233,817, according to Coveware’s Quarterly Ransomware Report, Q3 2020. You probably have heard that ransomware attacks are becoming more widespread, so this content is important to understand.

Don’t let your lack of industry expert knowledge have the same effect as forgetting a map or directions on a long car trip.

If you’re starting strategic planning from scratch, also consider CUNA Strategic Planning eSchool.

Dayna Johnson Schmitt

Dayna Johnson Schmitt

Dayna Johnson Schmitt is a Madison, Wisconsin based product manager with 15 years of experience.  As a CUNA product manager she has helped enhance CUNA’s strategic planning and compensation products. Web: Details