I think we can all agree that the pace of change impacting credit union operations in 2020 was- without the risk of hyperbole- unprecedented. Branches closed for extended periods. Employees performed core duties from home that conventional wisdom long held were impossible to move off premise. Members embraced digital channels at a rapid clip- often out of necessity, but with many ultimately deeming these newfound solutions useful if not downright preferable to their existing habits.
Now that vaccinations have kicked into high gear and a semblance of normalcy has appeared on the horizon, credit union leaders can heave a sigh of relief and enjoy a calmer 2021, right? Think again. The genie is out of the bottle, and the pace of change will not slow down. Members and employees alike have reset their expectations based on the experiences of the past year. Having successfully weathered COVID’s initial storm, leadership now faces the challenge of continuing to meet those expectations in a sustainable fashion.
Best Innovation Group is hosting a webinar on Thursday, March 18 to help credit unions navigate these challenges. The go-forward task is to determine which of the rapid innovations implemented in 2020 were short-term stopgap measures designed to get through the eye of the storm, and which have proven their value for the long haul (helpful hint: most probably fall in the latter group). Leadership then needs to optimize these breakthroughs for long-term efficiency, building supporting processes where necessary.
For instance, members’ branch usage patterns have likely permanently changed. What must credit unions do to preserve the member intimacy that serves as one of their longstanding strategic advantages, and how do they ensure continued insight into members’ “moment of truths” so they can be the first to offer loans and other needed products?
The trend toward digital channels has been underway for several years- the pandemic merely brought the issue front and center, accelerating its trajectory by months if not years. It’s clearer than ever that credit unions must up their digital game to compete with large bank competitors, especially now that more CU members have been exposed to digital solutions and found them appealing.
The path to an enhanced digital presence inevitably involves IT resources, but few if any credit unions are equipped to execute on this mission in isolation. Fortunately a growing number of fintech partners- many of which are organized as CUSOs- stand ready to assist on this front, in contrast to earlier stereotype of all fintech startups as predators to be avoided. The challenge comes in selecting the right fintech partnerships, and in developing sufficient internal knowledge of critical concepts like agile design, open APIs and SDKs.
Join BIG on Thursday March 18 to learn more about how to tackle these important issues. Ignoring the challenge won’t make it go away- but it could make your members go elsewhere.