Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: conference (page 1 of 2)

Creating CUs of Tomorrow…Today

The inaugural CU Tomorrow conference technically ran for three days. Unlike most, it started with the cocktail hour! Now that’s already different! (And, a great way to stimulate initial conversations) That went just so well, you wouldn’t believe how well it went. Ok, you got me. My flight was delayed and I missed it.

So let’s start this roundup when I can offer real insights. That’s on the 2nd day, the first of two, loaded with presentations, conversations, and inspirations. This post will be longer than normal, as I want to ensure you get insights from everything I attended. However, you can navigate it yourself by clicking each topic to expand one at a time.

Jim McCarthy, Trailhead CU, Oregon: Onboarding New Members

If it isn’t the most challenging topic imaginable. I’m sure your credit union has never had an issue onboarding your new members. After we’ve finished flattering each other with lies, let’s be honest about where our onboarding plan begins: Staff. The attitude you convey to them gets carried on to the members. From swag to dress code, it’s about making a welcoming environment, both for your staff and members. Importantly, ensure you have an open-door policy to all management. New hire? Each receives a staff partner to ask all their “dumb” questions, like, “what’s an ALCO?” or, “what’s a good lunch place nearby?” That’s supportive.

But has this casual dress code and informal employee mentorship helped? Well, they’ve grown while most in their asset size have declined. Average age of new members? 33. This success came about as they brought on an executive team and board, all mostly under 35. A lifetime of experience brings enormous value, though it can also bring an unwillingness to adapt. Trailhead combined the best of both.

 

Bobby Michael, Army Aviation Center FCU, Alabama: Building Wallet Share at Small and Large CUs

“It’s always been that way.” The words which stopped 1,000 improvements. Add to that, “if you’re doing what everyone else is doing, you’re not relevant.” So said Bobby Michael of Army Aviation Center FCU. At his former CU, they turned around declines in all areas with a multi-pronged approach. First:

Then, they financed all sorts of purchases, from solar panels to hot tubs. (Put them under the unsecured rate category) Michael also helped instill a sales culture into their mission, explaining cross-selling as another way to serve the member’s needs.

And, finally, they had fun:

Since they’re a part of the community, they ensured charity support matched their own mission. Sound familiar?

Michael concluded with three points: Take risks. Look big. Don’t cheap out.

Your credit union will thrive if you have passion, energy, and drive.

 

Stacey Collins, BECU, Washington: Fine-Tuning Member Onboarding For Big Results

Member onboarding needs two things:

  1. Good timing.
  2. Good content.

Before we figure out what these mean for your credit union, it’s essential to figure out the target member. Turns out, it’s Carmen. She’s a 29 year-old mass affluent Millennial. Carmen’s in your market, trust me. Now, what are her challenges and motivations? That’s where your own data comes in handy. Create a journey map for “Carmen’s” new member experience. How did this work at BECU? They brought new member utilization down from 1-3 years to 90 days, on average. With plans to bring that down to 30 days. Let me repeat that: They endeavor to get new members into an active checking account within a month of joining.

What challenges did they identify during this process? The biggest was the debit card. It took too long to get. So, they launched instant issue. Another was the length of the onboarding timeframe. And the complexity. Solution: Gamify with an e-mailed dashboard, then ensure all communications are within 45 days. With regular tweaking and testing, it’s making a difference, leading more members to make BECU their PFI.

 

That was the packed lineup of Day 2! My apologies for missing Shari Storm, who discussed “The Mom Market”.  The few minutes I saw were exciting, enlightening, and just plain fun. If you were there and wanted to share your favorite moments, add them to the comments below!

Only one full day and lots to take home already. You’ll also be interested to know I had a fabulous veggie burger at Eureka!, a nearby restaurant. And their glazed Brussels sprouts were amazing. They also had what I consider to be the perfect IPA:

It’s called the Electric Jellyfish, brewed locally in Austin. For next time!

Day 3

Jane Dobbs, President/CEO, Canyon State CU, AZ: Lessons Learned In Turning Around Credit Unions

The third day began with Jane Dobbs, President/CEO of Canyon State CU, discussing how credit unions can find their “True North” focus. Her first day on the job began with a closed-door meeting of her executive team explaining, “we’ve got a problem. Our entire mortgage team just resigned.” Gulp. Dobbs understood this wasn’t the problem; it was a symptom of something else: The need to develop a “True North”. Here’s the roadmap: Assess, Plan, Act, and become Proficient. Then review, tweak, and repeat! Yet it’s about more than planning documents; the staff must be engaged. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast all day long,” she explained. Your credit union potential is linked to the potential of your staff. And if they are in the right positions for them. How to find out? Ask! Maintain an open-door policy. Listen. Even when it’s uncomfortable. A great leader engages their team so everyone performs at their best.

 

David Klavitter, SVP Marketing, DuPaco CU, Iowa: Member Rewards at your CU

When DuPaco CU asked themselves how to use their capital to create a deeper connection with members, they realized…rewards. With a core focus on active checking accounts; the entire program hinged on that product. Working in-house, they used “gamification” to build a system which made earning a journey. Every credit union interaction, from debit purchases to activating e-statements, earns the member rewards. A single portal tracks it all, with insights on current earnings and info on other ways to build “Thank Use” funds (and build the credit union relationship). Strong social tie-ins encourage sharing, and, when do the rewards redeem? On International Credit Union Day, of course! Klavitter understands there are two ways to grow membership:

1. Attract new members.

2. Keep members you have.

The Thank Use program has deepened the relationship (90% of rewards members consider DuPaco their PFI), maximizing the potential of both categories.

 

Brad Smith, Cornerstone Advisors, Texas: Best Practices in Vendor & Cost Management

Credit unions are empowered by their vendor partnerships. They can also become a burden. It’s about looking at their performance strategically, like any other internal program. “Technology is an enabler for strategy, but you don’t need to invest in every technology.” Smith explains how being aware of future-possible ideas is important, less so is adopting every one. Some, however, are pressing. Like mobile. What’s your ratio of mobile to branch deposits? And convenience. Does this platform require activating it through online banking, on a computer? Might be a problem for younger members, who are mobile first and last.

Smith then took attendees on a journey through assessing vendor performance. “Not getting written up by an examiner” is only the bare minimum. Here’s where to start:

As a vendor myself, I cringed at some of Smith’s words of vendor actions. Overcharging, underperforming, offering confusing messaging so comparisons are difficult, and putting CUs at risk in some economic climates? If any of your vendors engage in such actions, they’re not acting in your best interests, and maintaining that relationship isn’t acting in your members’ best interests. Clarity, agreement, and understanding is essential for all parties. If you don’t know what your vendor provides and you can’t get excited about it, why offer it?

 

Anne Legg, AvantEdge Analytics: Using Your Data To Grow

Your credit union has more data on your members than Amazon. Seriously. The challenge is in accessing, understanding, and using it to get ahead of your members’ needs, Legg began. Let’s start by addressing the big pitfall: Silos. They hurt progress, so avoid them by thinking of your credit union as an organic system with all talent complementing each other. Your members want streamlined, “swipe right”, simplicity. Silos ensure this will not occur. Because you can create complicated; members just won’t use it.

Start with the member. Determine the problem they want solved. Then identify how your data can solve it for them. Because data is driving the innovations of the future. Take Zero UI. I wrote about it nearly two years ago. I did another piece which is scheduled to post in the next few months. It’s the idea of no interfaces, just chatting with technology to get things done. Like a conversation with a friend. Legg excitedly animated a future scenario of Zero UI with Alexa, your bank account, your credit card, your activity monitor, and more. Want more details? Ask and we can dive deep together. For now, just understand this is all driven by analysis of data you already have.

So how do you build a data analytics culture in your credit union? And what’s going to go wrong? Legg invited John Sahagian, VP Marketing at Baxter CU to discuss. His first and most essential piece of advice? “Start with data governance so you have a base on which to build upon.” Why? Because you’ll otherwise adopt “shiny object syndrome”. That’s when you innovate for innovation’s sake. Technology is a means to an end. Without meaning, data is just data. And there’s a lot of it (with more on the way!); 90% of all data was created in the last two years alone. Your Excel spreadsheets won’t cut it anymore.

In review, it’s about finding the problem, then identifying the data which will solve it.

 

The CU Tomorrow conference concluded with an all-hands Q&A session. And this was after lunch, so you can believe all in attendance are committed credit union supporters!

Jim This guided all through identifying their Key Takeaways. Here are some shared:

  • Identify business case for any project.
  • Share strategic plan and budget with every employee.
  • Formalize new employee orientation process.
  • Revamp rewards program with focus on checking account.
  • (My personal favorite, despite being a specific task, rather than a “takeaway”) Make a “membership card” that gets handed out by any and all staff within your community to raise awareness and guide people to become members.
  • “Always let your conscience be your guide” – Jiminy Cricket (When you use a Disney quote, you’ve got my support!)

Thank you to CU Today and Jim This & Sue Girsch for organizing a fantastic inaugural conference. Additionally, thanks to all the sponsors for helping make it happen!

Hope to see you all next year to share new insights!

And Keep Austin Weird!

immersion18: Empowering CUs of Tomorrow, Today

Be sure to read my on-site roundup of conference happenings as a prelude to this article. Additionally, look back to May 10 on my Twitter feed to see live contributions.

“They have hammocks on the beach?” asked one attendee, as another gleefully nodded. They made it to future sessions, worry not.

With the blue-green Atlantic waters as backdrop, the Trellance Immersion18 conference enjoyed a productive debut. Despite the team having hosted an annual event for nearly 30 years, this one was different. It was the first following a name, mission, and organizational change. Remember CSCU? They’re no more. In their place, Trellance, a not-for-profit credit union service organization, or CUSO. As credit unions’ unbiased advocate, their new focus was a perfect fit for the event.

Trellance CEO Tom Davis opened the first morning session surrounded by a technologically-infused dance number, complete with spinning displays and more. Despite being before many attendees’ coffee addictions were satiated, the audience sounded their approval. Then it got exciting. Davis introduced Trellance, lauding its unbiased advocate role as well as its not-for-profit status, and passed the baton to Bill Lehman.  Lehman reviewed how Trellance evolved from CSCU, helping set credit union staff expectations for the days ahead. And if you thought it was thrilling already, the next speaker was downright explosive. David Lott, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, spoke of the newest “trend” to enter this country: Exploding ATMs.

After discussing strategies to diffuse the threat (there’s no one solution, which really should be the theme of the conference), Mollie Bell, CUNA’s Chief Engagement Officer, took the stage with fierce focus. On strategy, that is. CUNA did a great write-up on her talk, which essentially challenged attendees to define who they were and what that meant about their target audience. Then make a plan that rocks your socks off. Ok, she didn’t say that, but she did include a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” for aspiration.

You won’t need a bigger boat when this shark enters the room. Daymond John, founder of FUBU clothing, Shark Tank star, and more, joined us to share his 5 SHARK points (see picture). More in my other roundup.

A common theme in the conference was fraud and security, both for your institution and members. The latter has become a daunting challenge. Why? In the past, you secured a single path for financial data. Then, members could access it on their computer from home. Now, all financial information is expected to be available from any device (including voice assistants), any where (including that FreeWiFiConnectNowIWontStealYourStuffnetwork down the street), at any time. Many more places for information to be compromised.

A conference-favorite was the Dark Web session. The team from Q6 Cyber hooked up their secured connection, loaded up their Tor browser, and went shopping. For your members’ financial data. Or a hit man. Or an ATM skimmer. All available with Prime shipping! (I kid, but only slightly). Please do not try this at home.

Other criminals use far lower-tech solutions, including one called “friendly fraud”. CUBroadcast spoke with Trellance’s Lou Grilli about this technique, amongst other topics. TL;DR: Fraud comes in a lot of forms. Keeping current on how to detect and minimize them is essential. And you need a WISP (Written Information Security Policy). Embrace your WISP. Update your WISP. When, not if, (according to Michele Cohen) your system is compromised in some way, you’ll be happy there’s a plan. Because restoration will take 4-6x longer than your IT team expects. It’s not a diss, it’s just the reality. The more prepared you are, the sooner you can serve your members at 100%.

My personal favorite session of the conference was hosted by John Best of Best Innovation Group. It discussed that buzzword you keep hearing but just don’t quite understand: Blockchain. Attendees get it. You can, too. Just ask me, or go straight to the source. Everything you think it might be? It’s more. And less. Here’s an overly simplified explanation:

  • Have someone hand another person $1.
  • Observe them doing it.
  • You are the distributed ledger verifying that it happened.
  • Now, put that dollar in an envelope. Boom, it’s encrypted.

Combine this with a decentralized system (meaning, one source broadcasts the same data to many trusted destinations, which all save it independently) and you have the trappings of a revolution! There’s so much more to it, but let me leave you with a mind-blowing possibility blockchain could eventually offer: NO MORE PASSWORDS!

Unfortunately, I can only report on sessions I attended. With more than 20 breakouts, everyone had an opportunity to gain enormous insights. No doubt, there are great ideas being shared by attendees at their credit unions around the country.

You want more? How about the sweet rock music anthems for every speaker and gathering (thanks to Lou Grilli for the playlists)? Or that time when Davis became the pistil of a dance troupe’s flower? Perhaps the living statue who could make the fountain come out her fingers? Or the walking tree? Oh, I see, you want to know about the extra-tall LED-lighted robot dancers at the final party. Sorry, what happens at the after-party stays at the after-party.

I’d like to thank the entire team at Trellance as well as all speakers for producing a memorable event stuffed to the gills with useful take-home info.

About Trellance:
Born out of nearly 30 years of payments experience and a passion for the credit union movement, Trellance is committed to providing innovative yet simple solutions to help credit unions adapt and thrive in a complex and competitive landscape. Together we can build and implement strategies to seize the exciting future of our industry.

Learn more about us at Trellance.com, visit us at thepaymentsreview.com for industry insights and our perspective on the future, or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter @Trellance.

Image description: Attendees receiving their Exceptional Member Initiative Awards. Credit: Me.

Immersed in immersion18

What’s better than blue-green waves lapping on a sandy beach? Experiencing it all with a dedicated group of credit union professionals!

I’m here on Ft. Lauderdale beach (the Marriott Harbor Beach, to be precise) with the Trellance team as hosts to immersion18, their newly (re)launched conference. Is their new name resonating with credit union attendees? Well, they’re absolutely immersed and excitedly sharing their experiences, challenges, and solutions. So, yeah, it’s going just fine.

And it’s not just CU people who shared their wisdom. Ever watch that little show called “Shark Tank”? The People’s Shark, Daymond John himself told an audio/video story of his life, from the lowest lows to where he is today. It wasn’t all “destiny”, “right place at the right time”, or any of that. He put in the work. He put in the time. And he learned about his target audience before offering anything to them. I’m sure credit unions have nothing to learn from that experience.

Attendees locked down their devices as Theresa Payton, former White House CIO and current star of CBS show “Hunted”, explained the challenges of cyber security. I’m sure she used our friend’s friend to figure out our security questions, anyway. Bottom line: Security is hard. And there’s a lot of ways to improve it for your own organization as well as for your users (read: members).

Other topics discussed? Blockchain (no, it’s not Bitcoin). Digital media marketing. Dark web (let’s say they “shined the light” into that part of the internet…I crack myself up). Much more.

I’ll provide a complete roundup after the conference completes. Now, I’ve got to get back for the big celebration! Last year, they had a mind reader. What’s going to be the surprise tonight?

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