CUES SKYBOX BLOG

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Exercise: Gain Strategic Clarity

As fall strategic planning sessions approach, try this approach to remove any distracting ‘shiny objects.’ By Jeff Rendel, CSP If “shiny object syndrome” is distracting your credit union from discerning its true goals, here’s a surefire way to whip it: Embrace it, but only for a little while. The late Steve Jobs was known to bring together his top 100 executives for a retreat each year to flesh out new and refined ideas for Apple’s future. During a session, he would give his executives an assignment: Draw up a list of 10 strategic ideas that Apple should be doing next. Jobs would take to the white board and write down all of his executives’ thoughts. After much jockeying and lots of ideas crossed off this list, the group would finalize a list of 10. As Jobs looked over the list, he would insist that Apple could only focus on three. When asked if he was proud of what Apple chose to do, Jobs would reply in the affirmative, but further emphasize that he was equally, if not more, proud of what Apple chose not to do. Focus was key in the midst of great ideas. Perhaps saying “no” was more […]

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Your CU Doesn’t Need an Apple Watch App

But you might want to consider text notifications and Apple Pay for this wearable. By Tim McAlpine My Apple Watch arrived in early June. I ordered it on the release date (don’t judge me), and waited and waited for it to arrive. Meanwhile, I read the good, the tepid and the bad reviews. I did my best to reserve judgment. When it came, I installed many of the available watch apps, tried them once and haven’t been back. The capabilities of most apps are limited and, in most cases, navigating the tiny screen is harder than just grabbing your iPhone. This will likely change with operating system upgrades. For now, I find myself using the clock (go figure), notifications, and the built-in health and fitness tracking capabilities the most. I’ve worn a Fitbit on my wrist for the past couple of years, and I do like the Apple Watch better for basic step and calorie-counting. Having a built-in heart-rate monitor is a nice bonus. Apple Watch notifications, including text messages and calendar alerts, are very handy. I often miss text messages from my wife and kids on my iPhone. When wearing the watch and a notification comes in, I get […]

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Bridging the Brand Gap

Thoughts on how to keep your efforts from falling flat. By Mark Arnold Branding can change a credit union. The key word is “can.” Many times a credit union embarks upon a new brand or recreates an existing brand. Perhaps the board, management team or marketing department decide key targets, develop a new look and even draft a catchy tagline. But then the brand falls flat. What happened? In many cases the credit union has fallen into “the brand gap.” Brand Gap The brand gap is the tension between the operational nature of banking and the creative/strategic skills of branding. There can often be a gap between key areas of the credit union. For example, there are possible brand gaps: between branding and strategy, between branding and staff and between branding and operations. The brand gap essentially becomes a leadership challenge for credit unions. Gap Between Branding and Strategy Branding is a strategic process. The brand plan must tie directly to the strategic plan and the strategic plan must incorporate the brand plan. There is no one without the other. As Marty Neumeir says in The Brand Gap, “The secret of a living brand is that it lives throughout the company, […]

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Capitalize on 4 Trends to Ensure Wallet Share

Member experience, channel integration, security and personalized solutions are key. By Samantha Paxson Sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services Credit unions can compete with any financial institution in terms of wallet share for their plastic and digital payment cards, but they must constantly expose members to the range of services and technology they provide. We can begin to do this by remembering that we truly are in business as “people helping people.” So, we need to ask ourselves, “How are we naturally engaging with our members to help them navigate their financial lives through our industry’s wide array of offerings and platforms?” Credit unions have a better opportunity than any other services provider to help members solve their financial life goals. In doing so, we can propel them organically across products and platform, to the benefit of members and credit unions. There are four key consumer and technology trends today that need to be leveraged if credit unions are to sustain wallet share–and truly help our members. First, deliver an unmatched member experience, one that is consistently “fast and brilliant.” Consumers are impatient and want financial technologies that are real-time, delivered in a pleasing way, and built to easily address and […]

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4 Tips for Fall Strategy Session Success

Your mindset, business model, people management efforts and ‘focusing on the why’ all matter to strategy planning. The July issue of Credit Union Management magazine will include a feature story about how to use online board portals to support boards in making time to focus on strategy–rather than getting into the weeds. As a bonus to that article, Michael Hudson, Ph.D., sends us this video about how to make your fall 2015 strategy planning session a real success. Hudson is president of Credit Union Strategy, Rehoboth Beach, Del.   Talk strategy with Hudson–who will be a presenter–plus with your peers and other experts at Execu/Net, Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in Jackson Hole, Wyo. Learn more about the roles of directors in strategy setting by attending Director Risk and Compliance Seminar, Sept. 14-15, and CUES Director Development Seminar, Sept. 16-18 in Savannah, Ga.

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Six Expectations of Business Owners

Does your credit union meet these six needs? By Theresa Witham According to data from NCUA call reports, 2,300 credit unions are engaged in member business services. The credit union industry holds $54 billion in loans with an average loan amount of $240,000. Jim Devine and Bob Hogan, lead faculty at CUES School of Business Lending, have over 30 years of experience in business lending and have worked with thousands of small business owners. They have explored the questions: What is it that small business owners are looking for and why would they pick you? Devine and Hogan say the answer boils down to the following six things business owners expect to receive from their financial services provider: 1. Access to credit: “They will be looking for you to help them with their capital formation strategy and develop for them the types of credit products that will address their needs. This will vary dramatically,” says Devine, founder, chairman and CEO of Hipereon, Inc., and include term and short-term loans, lines of credit, and real estate loans. 2. Be valued: Business owners want to be valued as a member of your credit union and acknowledged for their economic commitment to the […]

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Digital Marketing Gets Results

It’s no longer just a trend, but a vital tool. By Amy Neale Sponsored by CU Solutions Group If more and more of your credit union’s marketing budget is going to digital, you’ll want to read this article. Financial institutions nationwide increased their online advertising spend from $2.4 billion in 2013 to $2.9 billion in 2014, according to eMarketer. While this figure may not seem overly impressive, the study also shows a decline in media ad spending in all other categories: television, newspapers, magazines and newspapers. Pick Pandora It’s become obvious that digital marketing can no longer be seen as an industry trend, but should be viewed as a vital marketing tool instead. One of the best bets for your digital marketing dollar is quickly becoming Pandora Internet Radio. Many advertising dollars are being shifted toward Pandora media buys, and here are some reasons why it’s worth it: You can target your marketing efforts with almost pinpoint accuracy, with segment and sub-segment choices that include household income, auto preferences, ethnicity, education levels, and home and business ownership. 28 percent of U.S. adults who are online stream music on their computer or smartphone; yet only 6 percent are willing to pay […]

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Bridge Over Troubled Water

CUES members with a problem to solve can turn to the CUES Net listerv and CUES Members Share. By Lisa Hochgraf The 1970 Simon and Garfunkel hit “Bridge Over Troubled Water” makes me think about how CUES members help each other out. As the moderator of the members-only CUES Net listerv, I see it every day. In the last week, CUES Net participants have helped  each other with ideas and perspectives about everything from forms vendors to cash recycler security to who should attend supervisory committee meetings. Many times “CUES Netters,” as they are affectionately called, help other members by submitting a policy or document to CUES Members Share. Just in the last two months, documents related to CEO performance, loans to employees, indirect lending and anti-harrassment have all been contributed. The really cool part is that these CUES members also celebrate successes together. I guess this fits Simon and Garfunkel’s song lyrics, too: “Your time has come to shine/All your dreams are on their way/see how they shine. Oh, if you need a friend. I’m sailing right behind.” Lisa Hochgraf is a CUES senior editor. It’s a great time to join CUES. New members get the rest of 2015 […]

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A Deep Definition of ‘Governance’

How does your board use its formal and informal authority for the good of the credit union? By Michael Daigneault, CCD While there are as many definitions as governance as there are consultants in this world, here at Quantum Governance, we believe that governance ultimately deals with the legitimate distribution of authority throughout a system–whether it’s a country, a corporation or a nonprofit like a credit union. We believe governance is ultimately how organizational leaders use both the formal and the informal authorities vested in them. How they think, make decisions, develop strategy, persuade, develop future leaders, structure their board and execute initiatives. How they communicate with key stakeholders … with their staff … with their customers … with their marketplace … with their constituents … and even with each other. Good governance also applies to how your board oversees your CEO; tracks its own performance and the CU’s results; conducts its budgeting process; allocates its resources; addresses membership or constituent needs; moves in and through its community; adheres to ethics and financial integrity standards. And, yes, good governance is even about thinking in a genuinely strategic manner. There are some who say “good governance” centers on legal issues–bylaws and conflict-of-interest policies–and how […]

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Are Your Gen Y Staff Satisfied Enough to Stay?

Education and training can help make sure Millennials not only like their jobs but plan to keep working at them. By Lisa Hochgraf As you look around your credit union office, are your Millennial-aged employees looking pretty happy? If they are, you probably should give yourself a pat on the back. But a Harvard Business Review survey suggests you might want to look deeper. It found that 69 percent of Gen Y professionals working in Fortune 500 companies reported being satisfied at work. At the same time, 48 percent said they planned to stay at their current job two years or less. One of the reasons, according to another Harvard Business School report, “Danger in the Middle: Why Middle Managers Aren’t Prepared to Lead,” is that many of these “satisfied” but “planning to leave” staffers are in middle management–a place where more training is needed if staff are to do two key things: a) find success in executing strategy and b) transform from “order givers” to leaders. Amy Fox, CEO and founder of Accelerated Business Results, Cincinnati, offers three insights for better training these members of your team: 1. Teach “how” as well as “what” and “why.” Middle managers need […]

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To Connect With Millennials, Stay Connected!

Go where they go; know what they know. By Lauren Giannini Sponsored by CU24 You can’t ignore the Millennials. Also known as Generation Y, Millennials make up the largest generation, more than 80 million people. This is certainly a large enough group to play a critical role in the future of the credit union movement. What does it take to attract and keep these key members of our society as part of our community? Well, as with every other market segment, you’ve got to play on their level. If you’ve ever spent time with any Millennial friends, you’ve surely noticed a common, recurring theme: They are connected, whether it’s via a smartphone, tablet, or laptop or–maybe soon–a watch. Millennials are rarely seen with their heads behind a newspaper. They have mastered and prefer having their lives at their fingertips: texting for communication, Uber for transportation, Pandora for music, Urbanspoon for restaurants, Googling for information. Heads down, fingers flying, they’re connected. So, you think you’ve figured it out and the answer is Facebook? Then you’re behind in this game. You’ve got to go beyond. Tech-savvy as they are, Millennials are using multiple social media platforms for not only networking and communication, […]

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Redefining ‘Small’ a Big Help for Many CUs

One expert says NCUA’s new definition will give ‘small entities’ a better chance of survival. This is bonus coverage from “Looking to Launch” in the upcoming June issue of CUES’ Credit Union Management magazine. By Diane Franklin The National Credit Union Administration Board’s unanimous approval of a proposal to raise the “small entity” asset ceiling from $50 million to $100 million is good news for the credit union industry, according to Barb Lowman, SVP/account processing solutions for financial services technology provider Fiserv Inc., a CUES Supplier member based in Brookfield, Wis. Lowman observes that, based on NCUA figures, adoption of the proposal will raise the number of federally insured credit unions in the “small” classification to 77 percent from its current 65 percent. “We’re still waiting to see clearly what those benefits will be,” Lowman says. “We anticipate that some of it’s going to come in the form of less stringent requirements from a compliance perspective, but it also may include financial relief, such as funding through grants and programs that will help small credit unions launch some of the technology solutions that are vital to their survival.” Some in the industry were hoping that the “small” designation would go […]

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Millennials Value Coaching and Talented Colleagues

Get more of both for yours: Nominate them by June 5 to participate in the CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec challenge. By Lisa Hochgraf According to a February Harvard Business Review article, motivating Millennial employees boils down to one thing: coaching. Importantly, the article suggests that the coaching Millennials want is not about telling them what to do, but helping them to achieve all they are capable of doing and being. This makes me think about what Alex Castley said during his acceptance speech after being named the 2014 CUES Next Top Credit Union Exec last November. Engagement and communications manager at $602 million Integris Credit Union, Prince George, British Columbia, Castley thanked his CEO, CUES member David Bird, CCE, for being the kind of coach that Millennials want. “Here’s really the reason I’m here today, because without him I wouldn’t have the autonomy to do the funny good things I do on a daily basis,” he said, adding with a quavery voice: “Thank you, David.” The Harvard Business Review article also reported that Millennials value coaches who help them spend time with talented people–with the idea that those talented people will help Millennials up their own game. Castley’s […]

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Are You Ready for Hispanic Homebuyers?

Begin your strategy to connect with them today. By Wallace Jones Sponsored by CU Members Mortgage As a leading mortgage partner within the credit union industry, we are often asked what the future of home lending will look like. Will rates go up? Will compliance struggles prevent growth? Will lending thrive? Thriving depends in part on this key question: How well do you know the future borrower? While rates remain historically low, it’s inevitable that they will go up. Compliance struggles continue to be a part of the lending atmosphere, but they will be managed and eventually become less burdensome. Therefore, lending will continue. Whether or not it thrives will be up to your credit union and how well it adapts to the marketplace. Sounds simple enough, but without the proper research and preparation, your credit union’s home loan program could become stagnant or even shrink. Determining the future borrower starts with knowing about household growth. The growth of households is one of the most important predictors of potential home ownership gains. Knowing exactly who your borrowers are, what they need, and how to reach them will decide your success in lending. These facts about the growth of the marketplace […]

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If You Had a Million Dollars … to Spend on Payments

Here’s what attendees of the CUES School of Payments would do. By Lisa Hochgraf Terence Roche asked attendees of the CUES School of Payments last week in Chicago what they would do if they were given license to spend a million dollars on payments systems for their credit unions. Here’s what attendees told Roche, principal of Cornerstone Advisors, a CUES strategic partner based in Scottsdale, Ariz. Targeted rewards. The team acknowledged these could be pricey, but thought that if there were really money to invest, this could be a very good way to go. Ideally, these would include loyalty options for people using CU services outside of payments as well. Upgrade analytics capabilities. This would put the credit union in better stead to evaluate its current programs and decide on next steps. Add self-service options. Attendees would add interactive teller machines, enhance mobile and add a system that would allow members to turn off (and on) their credit cards using their mobile devices. What would you do if you had a million dollars to spend on payments? Lisa Hochgraf is a CUES senior editor. Download CU Management magazine’s special report on payments, which was sponsored by two CUES Supplier members: […]

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Best Practices in Payments

Takeaways from CUES School of Payments this week in Chicago. By Lisa Hochgraf Yesterday in Chicago, Terence Roche summarized some key concepts discussed at the CUES School of Payments. Roche is  principal of CUES Supplier member and strategic provider Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz. Establish clear performance metrics that target key revenue and expense drivers. People are saying, “I’m calling those out and they’re as visible as loan growth and delinquencies” when management gets together to talk things out, Roche said. These can get pretty granular, and seek to answer such questions as: Who’s using bill-pay? and If mobile is the most important new payment offering, how many members use it? Have a clear plan for “reduce and redirect” spending on payments. If you save money in one area of payments, you can use it to reinvest in your offerings or new payments ventures. Establish clear organizational responsibility.  “If we have 18 metrics, who is the person responsible for each of those 18 metrics? Who’s responsible for your next contract negotiation” with a vendor? Roche said the answer needs to be the name of a person, not a department or group. Use analytics strategically. Leverage your vendors to help get good data, […]

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EMV Liability Shift Readiness

EMV players prepare for Oct. 1. By Lisa Hochgraf Credit union members are starting to get EMV “chip” cards in the mail. Big merchants are placing point-of-sale readers that can handle the new cards in many of their locations, but not planning to actually enable this functionality until Oct. 1. These are the real-life signs that players in the world of EMV cards are indeed getting ready for the liability shift planned for Oct. 1 by the “Network of Four” (MasterCard, Discover, American Express, and Visa) for domestic and cross-border counterfeit card-present point-of-sale transactions. Once the shift takes place, liability for card fraud will be assessed to the party that did not enable the EMV transaction. At the CUES School of Payments yesterday, Terence Roche made some educated predictions about what players will have done by the deadline. Principal of CUES Supplier member and strategic provider Cornerstone Advisors, Scottsdale, Ariz., Roche said that 79 percent of issuers are expected to have replaced magnetic stripe-only cards with EMV cards by Oct. 1. In all, 575 million EMV cards are expected to be issued this year. Roche also pointed to data showing that EMV/near-field communication will be installed at over 65 percent […]

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Succession Planning Blind Spots

How CEOs perceive their role has a tremendous impact on the outcome. By Deedee Myers, Ph.D. A mutual understanding between the chair and CEO about desired succession planning outcomes goes a long way toward organization success, both long-and short-term. On the other hand, when an effective chair/CEO dialogue is non-existent, there is a high likelihood of unintended consequences regarding trust and transparency–and inadequate development of the executive team and middle management team. Here are some additional succession planning blind spots to watch out for: 1.  Some CEO followers of the Carver governance model assume they do not have responsibility to develop potential CEO successors. The outcome of this separation of duties often leads to disillusionment by executives who want to be seen and developed as potential successors. If executives are not developed as potential CEO candidates, and they want to be, a higher flight risk is probable. Deciding who is CEO is a board responsibility and some CEOs keep that Carver separation of duty. The board needs to be explicit in requesting that the CEO develop potential internal successors, or make those external resources available. 2.  A CEO who tells an executive that he or she is the next CEO needs […]

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A Valuable ‘Freebie’–Especially for You

Try out Credit Union Management magazine’s digital edition this month as we “Give Away May.” The old adage says, “You get what you pay for.” But in some cases a freebie is golden. That’s what we hope you think about  Credit Union Management magazine’s May digital edition, which non-members can read for free during CUES’ “Give Away May” campaign. In a handy-for-the-tablet “turn the page” digital format, check out stories covering such topics as: card and mobile rewards; how to combine tech systems in the wake of a merger; long-term care insurance for directors; welcoming the VP/human resources to the C-suite and the role of marketing in developing your CU’s mobile offering. Then, if you want access every month going forward, join CUES or subscribe to the magazine. Members, when you view Credit Union Management and log in with your CUES password, you’ll access the current issue plus the archives, which are not part of the giveaway promotion. If you need password assistance, please email us.

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Protection for the Road Ahead

GAP insurance and VSC can help your credit union and its members. By Tom Kazar Sponsored by Transamerica Throughout life’s metaphoric winding road, almost every choice has a risk attached. And some of the more expensive risks take place literally on the roads, streets, and highways. Most of the time people try to mitigate risks so that negative consequences incurred will be minimal. For example, your members may drive more cautiously in the rain and never let their gas tank fall below half full. Yet, even the best mitigators cannot completely eliminate risk. That is why there are protection products available to help protect you and your members. Let’s look at a common scenario. A member wants to purchase a new vehicle with financing from your credit union. According to the latest “State of the Automotive Finance Market” report, in the fourth quarter of 2014, 84 percent of new vehicles were purchased with financing, the average loan amount hit its highest level on record, and the average loan term increased to 66 months. Over the next five and a half years, many chances for potential unfortunate events and financial exposure exist. The vehicle may be totaled or stolen. The vehicle […]

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Exceptional Leader Award = ‘On the Right Track’

On the path to becoming CEO, Dan McGowan felt supported by receiving a top CUES award. By Lisa Hochgraf CUES member Dan McGowan first thought he’d like to be a CEO about 20 years ago. So being named president/CEO of $191 million Pioneer West Virginia Federal Credit Union, Charleston, on Oct. 1 of last year was a significant milestone. McGowan says being named 2012 CUES Exceptional Leader helped him believe he could reach his dream. “I think I’m like a lot of other people in the workforce in that we go to work every day and do our best to make the world a better place, but our efforts largely go unnoticed,” he says. “The CUES Exceptional Leader award was a highlight of my career. “We’ve all known people who fit the ‘legend in their own mind’ description, but that assessment may not go beyond the individual. It’s another thing entirely for one’s work to be submitted for review by an objective third-party panel of experts, who conclude that it is worthy of note. So, the recognition also served as a validation that I may have been on the right track.” In addition to the support of the CUES Exceptional […]

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Be the Leader You Mean to Be

We’re so excited about our upcoming June Credit Union Management cover story that we couldn’t wait to share an excerpt with you. And give you one more chance to sign up for an amazing course–it starts May 7–that will help you explore all of these ideas. Read on. By Jamie Swedberg Every business executive’s leadership has a far-reaching effect on the organization. The way employees do their jobs is greatly influenced by the cues they receive from above—whether those cues are intentional or unintentional, articulated or implied. That’s why it’s important for a credit union leader to take a hard look at his or her management style, vision, goals and values. It all trickles down. If a CU’s leadership isn’t clear and coherent and in keeping with the institution’s mission, there’s no way the members will be happy. In the CUES Elite Access executive education series, CUES offers a remote learning course called Leadership Brand and Shadow in partnership with Cornell University. The course examines two facets of well-thought-out leadership. The first, leadership brand, is a reflection of how you as a leader are perceived by peers and employees. It’s a brief statement about who you are that can help […]

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Supervisory Committees Function Well, But …

Just like CUs and their boards, supervisory committees must change with the times. By Michael G. Daigneault, CCD We survey a lot of credit union board members. And generally most will say they are pretty satisfied with the job their supervisory committee is doing. In fact, of the five areas on which we survey (vision, mission and strategy; board structure and composition; fiduciary oversight; governance and leadership; and supervisory committee), fiduciary oversight and supervisory committee usually are the two highest-scoring areas. But I’ve been troubled lately. Why? Because a good percentage of board members we interview admit that: (1) they don’t really know what their supervisory committee does; (2) if they do know what their committee does, the practices of their supervisory committee do not appear to have changed much in the last decade; and (3) almost 45 percent of board members think their supervisory committee’s analysis of the top operational and strategic risks facing their credit union are less than effective. Notably, half of the board members at one CU client even described their supervisory committee’s oversight of the external auditor–traditionally one of the key functions of that committee–as either adequate or even ineffective. So, what’s going on? Today’s […]

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Passwords Plus … Biometrics

It may be time to jump into fingerprints and voice recognition for securing mobile banking. By Robb Gaynor Security is paramount when defining a digital strategy for both mobile banking and Internet banking. And, until recently, passwords have been king. Passwords are an expeditious way to allow users to establish their identities—to prove they truly should have access to whatever it is they want to access. Passwords are a reality for every adult as almost everything has a password. But remembering the password for a great number of accounts can be a real pain and, at the same time, not so secure as one would like. The literature is abundant on how strikingly easy passwords are to guess, in part because people often choose similar passwords. So wisely, regulators have for a decade asked financial institutions to use multi-factor authentication before letting someone into an online or mobile banking account. That means using a password plus some additional form of proving one’s identity. Enter biometrics. While a password is something you know, biometrics authenticate you based on “who you are.” And some of this technology is now arriving. The most popular forms of biometrics that seem to have reached viability […]

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Must Leaders Always Focus on the Summit?

World-renowned mountain climber Alison Levine says leaders sometimes just have to put one foot in front of the other. Life isn’t just about making it to the top, but “about the lessons you learned along the way, about knowing how to weather the storm,” says Alison Levine in the video below. In the five-minute clip, Levine talks with insight and humor about leaders and their tolerance for failure. A famous mountaineer and author of On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership, Levine will speak this December at Directors Conference in Orlando. Learn more about leadership without ever leaving your desk when you sign up for “Leadership Brand and Shadow” through CUES Elite Access, offered in partnership with Cornell University. Cornell University also is one of CUES’ partners in offering CEO Institute. The first segment of this highly regarded, CU-specific program focuses on strategic planning, and will next be offered in August at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. The second segment focuses on organizational effectiveness and will next be offered in May at Cornell. Segment II also will be offered in August.

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