Succeeding in a changing market

Part 1

If you are anything like me, you love lists like Top 10 and others because they are easily digestible and great for immediate takeaways.  During a recent conference keynote, I gave a session on helping small credit unions learn how to succeed in a changing market.

But let’s face it…the market is changing and it is affecting ALL credit unions.  In the presentation, I listed several DO’s and DON’Ts in adapting to a changing market that I believe are relative to every credit union, regardless of size.  And I am sharing them here…starting with the Don’ts because, well… I like to focus on the positive so that is the second in this series.

As you read this list of DON’Ts, remember that you, credit union executive, are reading this article because you want to learn how to grow your credit union and serve members.  You love this industry, and you want credit unions to succeed. I LOVE credit unions as well and, while you might like what I have to say on this list, I am here because I share your love of credit unions and passion for helping them succeed.

If you want to succeed in today’s market DON’T:

  • Look at big banks and other credit unions to see what they are doing and copy exactly what they are doing.  You aren’t staying true to your mission and brand story with this strategy.
  • Market on rates.  Rates and pricing is not what will set you apart.  Your WHY is what sets you apart. Remember that it isn’t about loans and checking accounts.
  • Try to be all things to all people.  This means your credit union may serve a large field of membership, but there is a smaller group of consumers within that market that you are best-suited to serve.
  • Look at marketing as an expense.  Done effectively, marketing has one of the greatest potentials for killer ROI of anything else your credit union can do from an execution standpoint.
  • Look at members who have bad credit as undesirable.  A LOT of the population has less-than-stellar credit and it doesn’t mean they have necessarily been careless with their finances.  Job loss, medical bills, divorce, death of a spouse…so many circumstances lead to poor credit. Additionally, serving these “riskier” borrowers is a great way to solidify lifelong relationships for the credit union AND earn a higher margin.  
  • Look at employees as something to be tolerated.  Your employees are the number one biggest asset your credit union has at its disposal.  They are the people who form relationships with new members and take care of your existing members.  If they are happy and empowered, that will translate to the member experience.
  • Make a merger your succession plan.  Mergers have their time and place and are often necessary, but it shouldn’t happen without careful consideration of the impact to members and employees.  Make sure the credit union has done all it can to foster talent and growth within the credit union so a succession plan is evident years in advance.
  • Operate with the mindset of “this is the way we’ve always done it.”  As Tony Robbins said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”  If you want to get somewhere different, somewhere better, you have to do something different to get there.
  • DO NOTHING!  Some credit unions are so scared to try something new and fail so they sit back and do nothing while their credit union literally shrinks before their eyes.
  • Give up.  The work you are doing is helping credit unions stay the superheroes of the financial services market.

I love you credit unions.  Keep doing the great work you are doing in your communities, with your employees and for your members.  

Amanda Thomas

Amanda Thomas

Amanda is founder and president of TwoScore, a firm that channels her passion for the credit union mission and people to help credit unions under $100 million in assets reach ... Web: www.twoscore.biz Details

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