Sweet ’16 growth strategies

According to the Chinese Calendar 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. The monkey symbolizes wealth and a knack for money. So “monkey-ing around” with the economy and financial market place will be a harbinger for credit union leadership as we head into the New Year.

With 2016 being an election year there will be a good deal of uncertainty for Americans. Overall many aspects of the current American economic landscape have caused many of us to shift and use more common sense basics and new methods in dealing with our financial situations and engagement in serving members. The credit union movement has always faced challenging times. However the times we are facing can be considered critical for the future growth and survival of our credit unions and the millions of members who have entrusted us as their guardian financial stewards. Maintaining and promoting our “Differentiation” will help solidify the credit union Brand in our communities going forward.

There is mixed good news these days. The stock market is at at an all time high and overall US credit union membership has hit 100 million plus. Loan growth is increasing. Net interest margins and operating expenses are improving. Inflation is flat and the housing market is recovering. However many Americans are still unemployed or have dropped out of the workforce, there is stagnant or declining household income, taxes are going up and the impact of the Affordable Healthcare Act is being felt. Regulation is getting tighter, interest rates will be ticking up and more uncertain, CEO and Board leadership are in transition and a high percentage of young adults are not aware they can join a credit union.

This is the year for credit unions to really step up and continue to help members respond to the “New Economic Normal” to improve their financial lifestyle and well being. I would offer these “Sweet 16” suggestions for setting a course to not just survive but thrive in the New Year:

  1. Work the Back Yard. Focus on deepening relationships (more wallet share) with your current members. Get close and really get to know your members.
  2. 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.
  3. Have a Collaboration, Partnership, Alliance and Merger Policy/Strategy.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 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.
  6. Create a strategy to reach out to serve new American s and the underserved. We are at the point now for action in really reaching out to consumers (Immigrants) in our communities and bringing them into our credit union family.
  7. Embrace Mobile/Tablet Technology and Social Media. Be Appilicious–Utilize innovative ideas to create “Apps for This and That” and do not fear Facebook and learn to Tweet!
  8. Offer Tax/Legal (Wills) Services and End of Life (Burial) loans. Look for Non-traditional/Lifestyle Products/Services that your members could really benefit.
  9. Reach out to young adults and women via Micro Lending, Small Business Services, HSA’s and Lifestyle Lending products.
  10. Consider starting a CUSO to offer Insurance/Travel/HR/IT/DP/Products & Services.
  11. 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.
  12. Focus more on diverse Non-interest Income Streams (Debit Card/GAP Coverage/Credit Insurance/Debt Protection/Overdraft/Interchange Fees/Investments/Brokerage Services) to help improve your bottom line.
  13. Get the right staff in the right seats on your Credit Union Bus and empower them with a “License to Serve” Members.
  14. Reach out to Boomer/Senior Members with Retirement Planning and Long Term Health Care products/services.
  15. Embrace Mobile Wallet Technology to serve members conveniently and teach them to self-serve themselves.
  16. Develop a strategy to Recruit & Retain top talent and strive to become an Employer of Choice in your community.

If we are not only to survive in the future but thrive, we will have to develop a different strategic mind set about growth. Our Credit unions will need to fine tune, hone and focus on our commitment to members and be innovative to keep up and stay ahead of all the “monkey see-monkey do” in the changing financial services marketplace.

Happy New Year!

John Vardalas

John Vardalas

John A. Vardalas CAE, CUDE is Founder/CEO of The AmericanBoomeR Group, a Madison, Wisconsin based speaking/consulting firm. He is also a frequent speaker and facilitator of strategic planning ... Web: www.theamericanboomer.com Details