Are dark days ahead for credit unions? I hope not. Changing my name will be a real pain.

You’ve heard the rumblings. “Credit unions don’t adopt modern technology, so Millenials will abandon them.” “Traditional financial institutions are the analog film of our time.” Just as computers did not herald the end of paper, mobile and other technologies will not doom the bank.

There is another possibility, however, and the term originates as a descriptor of the telecom industry as content providers (Netflix, YouTube, etc.) grew in leaps and bounds. They did not want to be stuck delivering only the signal, but to get a piece of the action. To be an active participant, instead of…A Dumb Pipe.

I am a member of a credit union (duh), but I’ll be honest: I use their app solely for deposits. All my other financial management, from account balances to budgeting, is managed elsewhere. I use a platform called Mint, though there are others delivering a similar service. In one place, I can see (but not change) my entire financial life and how trends, budgets, and savings coexist. Do I want to know how much I’ve dedicated towards taxes this year? Easy. What is my total debt to income ratio? Done. Compared to the six-month period prior? Still not a challenge.

This is one possible future of financial management, but there’s another far more menacing to the incumbents: Becoming a dumb bank.

Imagine a future where all your members want from you is a place to hold their money, a big safe. All member-facing products and services are managed by other companies. Not only do you rarely become front stage for your members (unless something goes wrong), you have few opportunities to discuss the programs which support the institution. Guess someone else will reap the profits of your debit cards.

But all is not darkness ahead! This is an important topic, so to ensure I’m covering it sufficiently, the discussion is separated into three parts. Next post, we will look at new technologies and strategies in the financial services industry. We will work together to figure out how you can become a leader through partnerships and smart growth, because “dumb” and “credit unions” should not be uttered in the same sentence.  The final discussion will address the challenges of adopting new tech and avoiding alienation of your comfortable members; is there a way to be future-ready while preserving your core?  That’s a question for a few weeks from now.  Be sure to subscribe to my e-mails (on your right) so you don’t miss anything!