Onsite Coverage: Becker Urges Focus on Innovation and Youth Outreach to Help CUs Thrive
SAN FRANCISCO — Embracing more technology advances and making inroads to the youth market, and doing so with “tenacity, resiliency and adaptability,’’ are keys to the future success of credit unions, NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker said in his address to NAFCU’s annual conference on Friday.
Becker made reference to the strong popularity of surfing in the Golden State and said credit unions need to use some of the same skills as surfers when approaching challenges.
“Credit unions — like all financial institutions — find themselves in turbulent waters,’’ he said. “What sets us apart is that we are anticipating and riding the next wave, actively embracing new ideas and new ways of thinking and creative problem-solving — literally transforming the industry.”
Becker cited credit unions that are expanding their use of technology to make it easier for members to access services. He noted such tools are a great equalizer that enable credit unions to compete with larger competitors and said that because of its use of technology, NAFCU is “able to compete head-to-head with trade associations four times our size.”
But he also said using more personal outreach is often successful as well. Becker mentioned that GTE FCU of Tampa, Fla., had increased its mortgage portfolio, despite the state’s economic difficulties, in part as a result of by holding a reception for 60 area Realtors and 300 of its members.
Becker also noted that tapping the youth market is “paramount to our future.” He cited a 2010 survey that showed that only 11% of those in Gen Y had a primary financial relationship with a credit union.
Becker, who has been president of NAFCU since 2000, urged credit union leaders not to feel their ambitions are limited because they work for small financial institutions.
“Little companies (like credit unions) do big things—that has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how they win the future,’’ he said.