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In 2020, COVID-19 presented a significant challenge to delivering essential financial services to people in a wide variety of, and often volatile, economic positions. Credit unions across the United States answered that call, and by relying on their strengths, they were able to keep their focus on the member. Demonstrating a remarkable ability to stay flexible and nimble, credit unions put their communication skills, policies and disaster plans to the test. Being agile and making on-the-fly changes to core operating principles and processes allowed credit unions to succeed, and even grow, during times when the large national banks struggled to serve the most in-need members and communities.

The ability to keep doors open both figuratively, and at times literally, is a testament to the responsiveness and sound decision making of agile leaders in the credit union space. Leaders who made a habit of embracing innovation, data-driven decision making and digital transformation have paved clear pathways to success for others to follow. By embracing more efficient decision-making ­protocols and testing new technologies, credit union leaders have become pioneers – pioneers who have been able to brush off dusty reputations of conservatism, reluctance and late-to-market strategies when it came to modernization, digitalization, democratization of information and federated decision making. As the hope for more reliable operating conditions is brightened by the arrival of a vaccine, the next question becomes: Can this new agile mentality survive the return to normal?

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