R&D CUSO designs more efficient member relationship management system, hears from leading technology experts

MEMBERS Development Company holds winter owner meeting

COLUMBUS, OH (February 24, 2020) — Wisely escaping a winter storm that blew across the United States, owners of MEMBERS Development Company (MDC), an R&D CUSO owned by nearly 70 large credit unions and several other CUSOs, gathered in Ft. Lauderdale on February 5-7, 2020. MDC’s 2020 Winter Owner Meeting showcased progress on current projects, presented ideas for new initiatives and delivered solutions for today’s trends, like the ever-increasing demand for instantaneous service delivery among American consumers.

Founded in 1999 to use the pooled resources of its owners to research the latest issues and provide meaningful, cost-effective solutions, the Company celebrated its 20th anniversary with its owners earlier this month. “MDC strives to be a conduit for helping credit unions succeed, and we do that by working together,” said Jeff Kline, CEO. “Collaboration is an important part of our business. We work with other industry partners to reduce redundancy and drive value through highly relevant solutions.”

Twice each year, MDC owners gather to hear updates, learn from thought leaders and subject matter experts, give direction to proposed projects, and discuss collaborative solutions to credit union issues. “As part of MDC’s focus on what’s coming next, our owners heard from leading technology experts about the power of AR/VR, 5G, and other emerging technologies,” said Sarah Lietz, MDC’s VP of Owner Engagement. “Hearing from people at the top of their field, both inside and outside the financial industry, is not only interesting, but also sparks ideas and provides valuable insight.” Sangya Singh, Chief Experience Officer at Microsoft, highlighted the potential of augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) technology to provide transformative customer experiences. Geriel Thornburg May, Worldwide Director for Lenovo USA, discussed the benefits and pitfalls of big data analytics, and Scott Eason, Group Vice President at Verizon, talked about applications of 5G technology.

Another session showed how technology can improve member experience by focusing the time spent by human staff on subjective, face-to-face interactions with members (or the “what”) and offloading the routine, highly repetitive tasks (the “how”) onto a “digital workforce” of software bots using automation. Owners also heard how a new member relationship management (MRM) system being developed by MDC can provide a cheaper, faster and easier solution for delivering excellence in member experience by integrating siloed systems and offering enhanced capabilities to both credit union staff and members, like automated fraud management. Planned enhancements include voice recognition for call centers and anywhere banking, in which services ordered through a mobile app can be delivered directly to a member, much as Uber Eats is now used to deliver a McDonald’s quarter-pounder.

Another session focused on the 10,000 Boomers retiring every day. Most employers do not fund retirement plans, and only 70% of the people eligible to enroll in a 401(k) savings plan do so. Responsibility for saving for retirement usually falls on the individual, but helping members save is a significant way credit unions can improve their members’ financial health while driving member loyalty. At this year’s Winter Meeting, MDC owners heard about possible ways to encourage pre-retirees to reduce debt and increase savings from experts at the Financial Health Network (formerly CFSI), which has researched this topic in cooperation with MDC.

There were 217 owner attendees at the February meeting, the highest number ever and representing 96% of MDC’s 73 owners. Ninety-three of the owner attendees at the Winter Owner Meeting, or 43%, were C-level credit union executives. “Our owners are highly engaged in the work we do,” said Kline. “The more engagement our owners have with our projects, the greater value they receive – and the greater value the group receives from their input. In 2019, 100% of our owners participated in at least one project, with the average participation being four projects.”

MDC owners are also encouraged to send representatives to participate in the NextUP program, which develops tomorrow’s credit union innovators by training them in innovation techniques and guides them through a product development cycle. At the meeting, five NextUP teams pitched their project ideas to the ownership, and owners were polled as to which ideas to pursue as projects funded for development by MDC.

“MDC owners benefit from NextUP in multiple ways,” said Kent Zimmer, MDC’s SVP of Operations and the NextUP program leader. “Not only does it generate ideas for projects that improve credit unions’ success, but the individual credit unions profit when their future leaders gain valuable skills and experience. The participants themselves also grow professionally while building a network of cohorts across dozens of credit unions throughout the United States.”

MDC’s next semi-annual owner meeting will be held in Chicago on August 3-5, 2020.

Jeff Kline.

Kent Zimmer.

Sarah Lietz.

About MEMBERS Development Company

MDC is the credit union network’s multi-million-dollar R&D department. We scan the  horizon, research the issues, and create actionable solutions to solve problems for today – and tomorrow. By pooling the resources of 84 credit union and CUSO owners, MDC is able to deliver meaningful solutions efficiently and affordably. We learn the lessons of what  does and doesn’t work — without exhausting our owners’ budgets and resources for  exploration and development. We also believe that our research must be driven by our  owners, for our owners. While we do the heavy lifting, our credit union and CUSO owners  both advise and participate in the work not just investors, but as trusted partners. 


Merideth Miller, M2 The Agency

Kristen Jones, MDC

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