I've heard credit union managers and executives comment about how fast technology is changing, how fast information is coming at them, and how quickly the industry is having to change to keep up.
One leader I spoke with even held his head and said, “Make it stop! Make it stop!” As the speed of change quickens, do you find yourself stepping on the gas or stepping on the brakes?
Try training your focus on these two mindsets to better prepare yourself for the onslaught of information and change.
Fuel Your Passion for the Ride
In my interactions with credit union executives, I’ve noticed more people expressing passion for keeping things how they used to be instead of feeling passion for where we are going. That’s not at all unusual for an industry going through such dramatic change; however, to be a progressive leader, one must embrace change and figure out how to create greater success under the “new rules.”
Look at your strategic plans for this year: Are you embracing transformation, or are you hoping for an economic recovery to help you with incremental change? Your passions are leading you. As a leader in your credit union, your passion becomes the benchmark for those looking to you for direction and inspiration.
If your passion is about embracing innovation, having a desire to thrive in this new economy and feeling driven to make the credit union better daily, your passion is not only fueling your ride but theirs as well. Conversely, if you shake your head at new regulations, wishing for how things used to be or literally counting down until the day you can retire – you are also telling your employees how to follow your lead.
Once again, check yourself: Are you stepping on the gas or stepping on the brakes?
Embrace the New Rules
Credit unions once were very cooperative with each other. Today they can have overlapping memberships, and the gloves are off.
Credit unions always felt the banks couldn’t touch credit union service; that gap has closed significantly. Credit unions once were locally based and counted on great loyalty from their members. Members are now service/rate/product shoppers and are learning to embrace technology that credit unions may be lagging on. (Do you have your mobile app yet?)
The new rules of member engagement have permanence, and technology is the driving force behind them. Virtual banking is no longer cutting edge but rapidly becoming a minimum standard.
Mobile apps and virtual wallets are the new edge -- that is, until the next innovation comes along. Members have higher expectations and are looking for the best fit for their financial needs, their time-demand concerns and their need for doing their financial business on their time – not on branch hours.
The new rules call for a greater focus on competitive advantages, on serving the members on their terms, and having frontline staff with great skill in personal interaction with members.
Depending on your viewpoint, these can be exciting times where credit unions are aggressive in their competition and dramatically gain market share, or these are dark times for credit unions as competitiveness replaces the family atmosphere of your friendly local friends in finance.
Without question, these are transitional times in the industry. How you decide to fuel your passion and how aggressively you want to embrace the new rules of engagement will dictate the direction of your credit union. Which decisions do you think will make it stop?
Russell J. White is a consultant, speaker and president of Pinnacle Solutions in Lake Wylie, S.C.