Jan 04 2016

Game Changers: A Research Symposium

With the day-to-day swirl of year-to-year goals, bank competition, and interest rate worries to sort through, it can be challenging to learn about the big-picture unknowns that could have just as big an impact on your credit union.

With this thought in mind, the Filene Research Institute and Credit Union Central of Canada recently convened a one-day symposium to discuss issues that are migrating to the top of credit unions’ “time to think about this” list: collaborative consumption, big data, things we can learn from retail, and radical lending platforms. And importantly, an overview of regulatory challenges and how being “different on purpose” is serving the system. These issues are game changers that credit unions can’t afford to ignore; here are the critical takeaways:

  • Credit unions need to up their digital game. E‑everything is here to stay. And although most credit unions don’t have the budget to compete with the big banks and technology leaders, they do need to find ways to make the most of their digital spend. Take a two step approach to digital: Find points of differentiation where you can use digital to both delight members and collaborate on must have services so you don’t lose members because you can’t deliver the basics.
  • Credit unions can’t just say they’re targeting millennials. We all know that millennials are critical to the future of credit unions, but the fact that we haven’t budged from an average member age of 47 in more than 5 years indicates credit unions need to do more to move the needle. This is especially true given that millennials will bump boomers from their highest-percentage- of-marketplace perch in just five years. There’s no one solution that will change these numbers, but more comprehensive and effective digital adoption—including social media—and efforts to promote the social responsibility aspect of credit unions that millennials tend to embrace seem like good places to start.
  • Big data is important—but be realistic and patient. Big data can play a critical role in helping credit unions to better and more cost-effectively serve their members. Its benefits have largely been established, and there’s been plenty of discussion about the wealth of data that financial institutions in general, and credit unions specifically, have on their members. The time is right to learn more, but it’s critical to recognize that there will be challenges along the way: Data analytics can be expensive (in terms of both manpower and technology), it’s not always easy to get siloed systems to play nicely with each other, and what the data tells us will still need to be balanced by experience and insight.

Filene thanks its generous partners for making this research possible:

Report Number 375