Jan 21 2008

Key Findings: Blueprints for Innovation (Early 2007)


Credit unions strive to help members build sound financial lives. But helping members change can be like exercising and eating right: ingrained habits are very difficult to break even when you know what to do.

To help the credit union industry positively inspire its members in new and effective ways, the Filene Research Institute has just released its latest edition of Key Findings: Blueprints for Innovation by Denise R. Gabel, chief innovation officer. The ideas presented within are intended to help credit unions stay future-focused and are meant to encourage fresh thinking on a daily level, while providing the framework to implement ideas.

This year’s edition summarizes seven innovations – the results of the past year’s work by Filene i3 – which credit unions can use to help members simplify their financial lives and overcome financial obstacles. The report also provides an update on seven innovations previously introduced by Filene i3.

The latest issue of Blueprints includes ideas related to helping credit union members build wealth, navigate financial waters, meet life’s milestones, and borrow. It also provides ideas for how credit unions can make a difference in the communities they serve. All the ideas in the report revolve around these four areas of inspiration:

  • Providing members with stress-free financial experiences.
  • Addressing credit union competition.
  • Using technology and media to deliver services to members.
  • Allowing adaptation by individual credit unions or communities.

The first two innovations focus on building wealth.

  • Auto Savings outlines a new set of products to make saving easy and attractive by bundling consumption and savings. These products overcome the obstacle of lack of self-discipline by making savings automatic and painless.
  • The Savings Revolution takes saving one step further by tapping into the power of support, in the same way support groups can help people lose weight or stop smoking. This socially driven innovation uses reality television, online interaction and individual planning to help members reduce debt, increase savings, and get control of their financial lives.

The next two revolve around navigating financial waters.

  • Virtual Finance addresses the changing way generations are interacting with their financial institutions. Its aim is to provide young Internet users with financial education and information about credit unions.
  • LOT$A MOT$A is an interactive money laboratory intended to help make learning about finances fun for children. Its classes and exercises will help children develop strong money management skills and stress the importance of developing a relationship with a credit union.

Other innovations:

  • Women: A Strategy for Success aims to help women credit union members simplify their financial lives.
  • Community Impact Center provides a centralized resource to help credit unions intelligently approach community economic development (CED) in underserved markets, which can create jobs, provide affordable housing, elevate the quality of medical care, and enhance educational opportunities. This innovation navigates the process of establishing the necessary legal entities, identifies funding sources, writes grant proposals, and accesses community impact consulting, foundation services, and public relations assistance.
  • Auto Resource Center will help members to make auto purchases, and then manage vehicle-related tasks over the entire life of their auto with a set of Web-based tools.

For each of these innovations, the report provides the following:

  • The opportunity in the marketplace from the consumer’s point of view.
  • Innovative solutions credit unions can provide.
  • Target markets.
  • Marketing tactics.
  • Operational and other considerations.
  • Proof of concept, reporting on the status of each, and pilot tests.
  • How credit unions may get started.

Filene i3 (ideas, innovation, implementation) captures the creativity and entrepreneurial spirit of a progressive group of talented credit union professionals. These leaders identify, develop, and implement ideas and initiatives that address major issues facing credit unions today. These ideas are then released to the credit union marketplace for others to implement, improve and use as fuel for growth.

Report Number 148