Apr 01 2013

An Examination of Key Performance Indicators Reported by Credit Unions in North America

Report  
Number  
296

The purpose of this report is to identify the key performance indicator (KPIs) reported by credit unions, and to gain an understanding of why and how KPIs are chosen. The report examines the various influences on selection of KPIs.

Daphne Rixon, PhD
Saint Mary’s University, Nova Scotia
Report Number 296

Executive Summary

Professor Daphne Rixon does two things well: She surveys the key performance indicator (KPI) practices of two dozen medium to large credit unions, and she uses that analysis of KPIs to imagine what credit unions should be measuring. Most credit union managers are so devoted to their established and well-­considered KPIs that they don’t stop to imagine what metrics are right for measuring a credit union’s values and its value to members. A fundamental question suffuses this research: Are we measuring the right things?

What is the research about?

Rixon interviews credit union leaders across North America to understand which KPIs they use and why. Not surprisingly, she finds that most talk about a balanced scorecard approach, which pits financial, customer, learning, and process behaviors against each other. Digging another level down, however, Rixon finds that financial measures dominate. Efficiency ratios, profitability, return on investment, and income growth are the common denominators. Credit unions’ trade is financial services, so shouldn’t the principal measures be financial? Yes, but that’s not enough, Rixon argues.

What are the credit union implications?

Financial KPIs are so prevalent because they are the easiest to measure, the easiest to aggregate, and the easiest to compare. But they do not address credit unions’ identity crisis—the need to formulate and describe a business model that is somehow different from noncooperative financial institutions. The critique is not about ignoring competitors but about comparing to the wrong ones. 

This report is sponsored by Credit Union Central of Canada.