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MADISON, Wis. – Credit unions know they have great lending products and services, but that isn’t enough for them to be competitive. What’s needed, concluded a group of 12 credit union lending experts in a white paper, is for credit unions to focus on a competitive strategy and differentiate themselves from their competitors to grow their consumer and mortgage lending business. The white paper was authored by CUNA Manager of Editorial Products Jim Jerving. It follows an eight-month study by the Porter Lending Project to apply to credit union lending some of the competitive strategies and analyses heralded by Harvard Business School Professor and nationally recognized expert on competitive business strategies, Michael Porter. Porter identifies three ways a business can become an industry leader – leadership; differentiation; and focus. The Porter Lending Project, originated by the CUNA Lending Council, represents the first time Porter’s competitive strategies have been applied to credit union lending. The project is jointly supported by the Credit Union Center for Innovation and CUNA Mutual Group. The 12 members of the project met for the first time in February, just prior to CUNA’s GAC for an intensive two-day, nine-hour brainstorming session. Their challenge: to apply Porter’s principles to credit unions and come up with a set of recommendations credit unions can use to enhance their lending business. They were charged at that meeting, with completing the white paper by November. Above all the study will provide CUs with options in developing strategies to succeed in what has become a very competitive lending marketplace, said Jerving. Though the process of CUs differentiating their products and services from those of their competitors can be difficult, the study group recommended one way to accomplish that goal would be for credit unions to offer specially-designed loan products that are unique and appropriate to their respective field-of-membership. “Credit unions need to leverage their strengths,” said Dan Green, executive vice president for CUNA Mutual Group and one of the 12 members of the Porter Lending Project. “In general, it makes sense for them to focus on a differentiation strategy. They shouldn’t however, lose sight of the benefits that cost leadership and focus can bring.” – [email protected]

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