We checked in with a few of our past Trailblazer Award winners and asked: what is the biggest challenge at your credit union in 2014 and why?
The Credit Union Times Trailblazer Awards honor credit union executives, volunteers and whole institutions that act as industry pioneers, promoting change by creating and implementing innovative strategies and solutions.
The deadline for the 2014 nominations is Friday, Jan. 10, so there’s still time to recognize someone deserving. Click here to nominate a colleague, co-worker or yourself online.
In the meantime, here’s a glimpse at the challenges they face in 2014:
Data Intelligence. In 2014, we're undertaking a project to make collecting and analyzing data more efficient and effective. We hope to put together a warehouse that will contain all of our data from our core to our credit card processor to our online banking vendor.
We also plan to set up systems that will disseminate the right information to the right people at the right time (i.e. overviews of our key performance indicators given to the entire organization quarterly, more detailed profitability reports delivered to senior management monthly, marketing data available to marketing team daily). This project will require creative problem solving by a large cross section of credit union teams. The new approach is sure to promote a shift in thinking that will ultimately trickle into everything we do.
This should allow us to make more informed decisions and streamline existing data processes.
2013 Trailblazer Marketer of the Year
Vice President Marketing
Listerhill Credit Union
Muscle Shoals, Ala.
Assets: More than $628 million
In 2014, our biggest challenge is to assist in maximizing our member’s financial wellbeing while dealing with margin compression due to low interest rates and new regulatory burdens and constraints.
2013 Trailblazer CFO of the Year
Executive Vice President/CFO
Patelco Credit Union
Assets: More than $4 billion
As far as the biggest challenge … I would say pending regulations and the sheer cost to comply. We are facing margin compression with added back office expenses. These costs add up quickly. I’d imagine that we are all in a similar boat when it comes to rising expenses.
2013 Trailblazer Lending Officer of the Year
Senior Vice President Retail Lending/Loss Prevention
Grow Financial Credit Union
Assets: More than $1.9 billion
The biggest challenge for 2014 will be managing compliance issues and meeting the requirements of the healthcare mandate. We are concerned about the higher expenses associated with expanded benefits as well as avoiding layoffs in our effort to manage the expenses.
2013 Trailblazer Service to the Underserved
Shreveport Federal Credit Union
Assets: More than $100 million
The major challenge at GTE Financial in 2014 will be sustaining the member and loan growth numbers of 2012 and 2013.
The excitement surrounding a name change, marketing and promotional innovations, the new gtefinancial.org site, reenergizing the SEG relationships, a new and improved lending product line – all have contributed to historic growth numbers.
With the economy elevating home loan rates, even though they are historically low, members are not refinancing loans or using the HARP program as they were in 2012 and early 2013. Consumer loans are constant in volume levels, but elevating that volume has been difficult as the events in Washington have added to the uneasiness of the consumer.
Our member growth numbers will continue, but as we evolve away from a traditional branch experience in our community financial centers, we will lose some members that only want to bank that way.
The provisions of Dodd-Frank that come into play in 2014 will also affect loan growth. The provisions that are intended to protect consumers, will, in fact limit their choices and in some cases, exclude them from getting financing for their home, securing a credit card or using the equity in their home to finance a worthy project.
With all of these obstacles we remain focused on the member experience and finding ways to attract new members and make loans. We are still very optimistic about credit unions, and are projecting net membership growth of 7%, 10% net loan growth, and 25% off balance sheet growth of home loans sold to Fannie and Freddie.
2013 Trailblazer CEO of the Year
Assets: $1.6 billion
Elevations Credit Union is blessed to operate in a vibrant marketplace. Our credit union is headquartered in Boulder, Colo., where the state’s flagship university that’s globally renowned for its stellar research, University of Colorado, is domiciled and has created an incubator of growth industries led by some of America’s most successful entrepreneurs.
This advantageous economic environment has attracted some of the most progressive financial institutions to our community, thereby creating one of the most competitive markets for our credit union’s services. Fortunately, Elevations has membership in one in four households in our primary market and is gaining ground in our newer adjacent markets.
However, competition remains our number one challenge. It will be vital that Elevations successfully deliver its value proposition to its current and potential membership, which is to build long-term relationships and deep mutual trust with our members by acting in the best interest of our membership and community. We’ve enjoyed success in delivering our value proposition to the consumer market and we’ll need to extend our strong brand reputation to the business community too.
Further, we’ll need to increase our consumer lending productivity. This last year, we became the No. 1 mortgage lender in our primary market and we’ll need to obtain similar success in our consumer lending markets, which will increase the loyalty of our membership that will provide long-term future success.
Our challenge is clear: we need to continue beating our competition, by successfully expanding into the business sector, while replicating our mortgage lending success in our consumer lending market. Our board of directors is highly confident that our management team will enjoy great success with this challenge that will delight our membership and community.
2013 Trailblazer Volunteer of the Year
Elevations Credit Union
Assets: $1.3 billion