I took last week off to work around the house, and one of the many things I did was wander the aisles of the local Home Depot. I ended up in the landscaping area with the colorful, eye-catching plants. And standing in the potting soil right beside the plants were basic plant information tags with QR codes.
QR codes are squares that look like a fancy bar codes, and with the click of a smart phone, these particular ones take you to more information about care for that particular plant.
Credit unions need to explore the possibilities of this technology as smartphones become more prevalent. Checking an account balance could be as simple as scanning a QR code on your credit card combined with an authentication tool. Or allow members to rate shop with a QR code on a statement stuffer or direct mailer expounding the benefits of your credit union’s CDs.
The conservatorship of the $1.6 billion Texans Credit Union was no surprise to those who’ve been following the story over the past three years. Credit Union Times had been on that story from the very beginning, including all the legal troubles along the way. However, what the NCUA will do with the giant credit union at this point is anyone’s guess. The cost to the NCUSIF could be significant, depending upon the resolution method that works out best. The NCUA’s newfound authority to assist financially in the merger of troubled credit unions, so called 208 assistance, will lead to an increase in conservatorships, purchase and assumptions, and facilitated mergers of larger troubled credit unions.
Texans troubles, in large part caused by business lending decisions, had to come to light, but it is an unfortunate time as credit unions continue to lobby for increased business lending authority. The bankers are trying to make hay of it, but hopefully members of Congress are smart enough to realize Texans is the exception and not the rule when it comes to credit unions.
And on to the next topic of my ramblings: succession planning. When I assigned the Billionaires’ Club story you’ll see on page 10, I had no idea what it would eventually focus on. I love that it turned out to be about well thought-out succession planning.
There will be few issues more crucial to credit unions in the coming years than succession planning. As baby boomers–the largest generation before Gen Y–age and their 401ks return from the brink, they will exit the workforce and competent professionals will be needed to fill those leadership positions. The economic crisis may have bought credit unions and other businesses some time before the brain drain occurs, but it will happen. And it makes good sense to have a plan in place for those unexpected departures.
This anticipated exodus is one of the many reasons Credit Union Times has launched Trailblazers 40 Below. With T40B, we’re doing our small part to ensure the industry has and can identify the leaders of tomorrow. Every few weeks we will recognize a young executive who is making a positive difference in the future of the credit union industry.
The microsite at CUTimes.com/Trailblazers-40-Below will not only recognize young executives but also provide relevant news from us and others, as well as opinions. In addition to helping elevate the careers of young credit union executives, the microsite also offers eMentoring where younger executives can ask questions, anonymous or otherwise, and receive frank feedback from a whole host of quality industry veterans. The first question on three things executives wished they had done earlier in their careers has already gained lots of insightful responses.
Of course, learning is a two-way street. T40B can also serve as a resource for, um, “more seasoned” executives to discover what makes the younger generations tick. To become involved in this program or just to learn more, I invite you to visit the microsite.
And on a final grave issue for credit unions, the need for directors’ education is coming more into the spotlight. The need has been there for some time, but it’s been hidden in backroom discussions between CEOs over drinks or off-the-record conversations with reporters.
While many in the industry complain that the NCUA should not be meddling anymore in the running of credit unions than they already do, this issue necessarily needs to be brought into the sunlight and is critical to the industry’s safety and soundness.
Many credit unions have exceptional boards and understand the value of directors training. Everyone can use continuing education on various topics no matter what the task to ensure they’re at the top of their game. Unfortunately, willful or otherwise, other credit unions boards are below where they need to be in understanding the institution they serve and their own liability in that.
During a Credit Union Leadership Forum Web seminar on the board’s role in risk, responses to an audience poll question unveiled that more than 65% were only somewhat satisfied or not satisfied that the board understands and tests management’s core risk assumptions. Another 25% responded that they were not sure if the reports the board received on compliance and operational risk were an effective early warning system. And, while 56% reported being satisfied or very satisfied that the board receives all the information it needs to properly over see risk, another 37% were only somewhat satisfied or not satisfied. These are areas where boards must work toward 100% satisfaction–guaranteed!