CUES SKYBOX BLOG

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A Member Service Rep at Every Desk

Recommendations for being more service-minded at various levels and in various departments. By Jeff Rendel, CSP In 2015, the post on this blog, “A CEO at Every (Employee) Desk,” explained how—in our members’ eyes—front-line leaders are the CEOs of every “moment and transaction.” Since members meet our front line more often than they visit with our executives, many credit union leaders have designed training sessions and systems to create an executive presence through all levels of their credit unions. Fast forward a year later and a feature of one credit union’s statement of values reads, “We all hold the title of member service representative.” This credit union realized that “the MSR in all of us” must appreciate that every member adds to a credit union’s success and all team members must value that contribution in how they go about their daily duties. “Regardless of how often we actually see members,” the credit union’s CEO said, “we must design our day around the question, ‘How will I serve my member?’” How do the various levels and departments of a credit union integrate this MSR presence of mind in daily duties? Here are some recommendations. Front-Facing Leaders. The mission of tellers, call […]

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The Two Ways Digital Disruption Is Happening

Gradually, then suddenly. By JP Nicols “How did you go bankrupt? Two ways. Gradually, then suddenly,” wrote Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises. This idea of things falling apart gradually, then suddenly, may also apply to the world of credit unions. For now the rumors of CUs’ deaths seem to have been greatly exaggerated. Despite all the recent talk about “digital disruption,” credit unions have survived the assault of their would-be disruptors to date. This makes one ask, has all of this talk about fintech been overhyped? Can we finally forget about chasing the latest technology and just get back to providing great service to our members? Well, yes and no. We are just in the early stages of digital disruption and things are happening fairly gradually in the near term. As Bill Gates said, “We tend to overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years, and underestimate the change that will occur in the next 10. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” The term “disruption” does not necessarily mean that the entire industry and all of its current participants will suddenly cease to exist. Disruptive innovation changes the game by creating new products, new […]

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Close to Quitting? 3 Ways to Get Back on Track

Lessons learned from writing my fifth book. By Michael Bungay Stanier This content appeared first on the Box of Crayons blog and is excerpted with permission here. I had a new book come out in February. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever is elegant, compact and already getting nice reviews. I’m really proud of it. And yet, this is the book I’ve come closest to abandoning. It’s taken me more than three years, at least four false starts, and a certain amount of head-banging despair to finally get here, something I didn’t experience with my other books. So what happened? And how did I make it after all? If you don’t know where you’re going, nobody else does either. The Coaching Habit is my fifth book, and I’d really thought I’d got the hang of things. Nope. I wrote a draft. I thought it was OK. (It wasn’t OK.) I hired a book agent. He’s a great agent, but it turned out that he only complicated my relationship with my editor. I fired my agent. I asked for a new editor at my publishing house. The new editor also didn’t like the first […]

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Measuring Your Mission

Aligning your board will make defining and achieving success more likely. By Charles Dahan In our experience with a broad array of non-profit organizations, those that are successful—in terms of attracting the best talent and increasing board and constituent engagement—are those with a clear and quantifiable mission. Some organizations view quantification as a risk: What if the organization falls short of the measured goals? Moreover, developing metrics can be challenging when board members have different goals and visions for the organization. Emphasizing board-level diversity, personal connections, and transparency dramatically improve the odds of success at reaching these goals. Diversity: Create a diverse board by encouraging existing board members to recruit beyond their immediate circle of friends and colleagues. A 2012 McKinsey report found diverse corporate boards produce 53 percent higher return on equity and 14 higher margins before earnings and taxes than companies led by the least diverse boards. Personal connections: Diversity may correlate with a lack of initial interpersonal connections between board members. Like any group, members must know that even if they disagree, each member has the best intentions of the organization in mind. Additionally, board members must attend meetings (and, when they attend, be prepared and well-informed […]

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Put a ‘Time Machine’ in Their Hands

Strong CU mobile apps are cool because they create time—and happy members. By Bart Scott Sponsored by LSC Credit union members live their lives on their mobile devices. Doing so saves them time and—in this on-the-go world—that’s important. Belonging to a credit union with a strong mobile application is like having a time machine in their hands—it gives them back lost seconds, minutes, even hours they would have once spent traveling to and from a branch to handle simple transactions. remote deposit – A simple click on a camera phone means not needing to go to an ATM or branch to deposit checks ATM locator – so they don’t have to drive around looking for cash when they need it. branch locations and hours – There’s nothing more frustrating than rushing to a branch to find out its closed, or there’s been one closer all along.   Think about your members’ needs. In addition to the items listed above, how could an app make their lives easier? Members expect quick answers, often outside of standard business hours. That means more than just being able to check their balance or transfer funds between accounts. Would your members like these features? mobile […]

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Do You Aspire to Being a High Performance Board?

Here are 15 ways to engage in best practice director behavior, plus four governance patterns you should consider. By Deedee Myers, Ph.D., MSC, PCC Each organization has a culture, a way of practicing values and beliefs. In a credit union, the culture starts at the top—in the boardroom—and emanates from there to the executive team and staff. When the board is in alignment to be high performing, the CEO has an easier job of creating and maintaining a highly engaged organizational culture. The board’s role is simple: strategy, policy and advocacy. How directors organize themselves to create an engaged and productive board centers on a commitment for the group to act as such, an engaged and productive board. Engaged and productive directors increase board fitness by modeling the credit union’s vision, mission, and values in and outside of the boardroom. Low-Hanging Fruit Here’s a list of 15 easy and common sense things you and your fellow directors can do on your path to being a high performing board. Believe in and advocate for the credit union. Know the vision, mission and strategic plan. Talk passionately about the credit union. Show appreciation. Separate your personal and professional life from the work […]

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Members Expect You to Provide Card Fraud Protection

A good prevention and mitigation strategy leverages process, technology and human expertise. By John Winstel Sponsored by Vantiv Fraud hurts consumers and merchants alike, but cardholders put an even greater level of trust in their financial institution to protect them and resolve any negative consequences associated with fraud. In fact, an Accenture survey reports that 74 percent of respondents expect fraud protection from their financial institutions. The impact of fraud on financial institutions goes far beyond the concrete dollars and cents and into the even more nebulous and sensitive area of consumer trust. Fighting fraud requires managers to have as much information as possible so they can aggressively identify problems and take steps to mitigate them. A good payments partner can be invaluable in providing information about fraud type (card present, card not present), the point-of-purchase transaction and the cardholder. This information can help formulate a solid fraud prevention strategy by leveraging processes, technology, and human expertise. Prevention Processes Making sure your fraud strategies include streamlined and highly effective processes is the first step toward reliable fraud mitigation. These processes should include, at a minimum, chargeback processing services for every point in the process, management of signature debit disputes, dispute […]

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Laser Focus Your IT Strategy

Make sure you connect your technology and business plans, and insist on upgrades. By Kristen Jason Sponsored by D+H Planning an IT strategy for any organization is challenging, but credit unions face additional complexities from regulatory and security requirements. And because CUs typically have limited IT staff to address desktop support, server hardware, applications, physical connectivity and other technical requirements, managers must search for new ways to address business needs while still being efficient and within budget. How can you balance your internal IT staff resources with the technical and business requirements of your financial institution? To be successful, your IT strategy must be laser focused. With the plethora of technologies that exist and the additional ones that are released each day, it is easy for an IT organization to get engrossed with the tactical aspects of technology before defining business requirements. Especially when limited resources and budget constraints exist, expending time and effort on extraneous projects cannot be afforded. While some define their focus for the coming year based on available technology, successful financial institutions align the technical strategy based on their predefined business strategy. For example, if your board of directors has chosen to focus on operational efficiency, […]

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Relatedness: The Key to Employee Engagement

When leaders connect with what’s important to their team members, dedication to the organization and commitment to the cause go up. By Sandra McDowell, CEC, PCC Do you want to engage others and increase their commitment to your organization? Let’s look at a key factor in how the social brain works. The need for people to experience a sense of belonging and attachment to other people is the essence of the social brain theory, the idea that animals in complex social groups have evolved larger brains. Current neuroscience research shows that our brains are wired to be social and that a feeling of being connected to others is essential to our well-being. Organizations have become less personal due to rapid growth, workplace virtualization, competitive pressures, and such communication tools as email, text and voicemail. As handy as electronic tools are for staying in touch, they are not a substitute for face-to-face interaction. Leaders often talk more about numbers and technology than they do about people and relationships. Consequently, as organizations grow, the feeling of connection or relatedness decreases. Fostering genuine relationships is about knowing others, and letting them know you. When a leader recognizes, accepts, or embraces what is important […]

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Yes, Credit Card Rewards Really Are Worth It

Data-driven guidance for developing a successful program. By Shazia Manus Sponsored by TMG The notion that credit card rewards are superfluous generally manifests in one of two positions: Misconception 1: Rewards offer little return when compared to the expense. Misconception 2: Rewards are most beneficial when cardholders don’t redeem points. Credit card experts have long contended these positions to be false. To investigate the validity of their intuition, TMG and strategic partner IQR Consulting, Reston, Va., set out to analyze the data generated by 12 months of activity from 400,000 credit card accounts issued by TMG clients. What follows are the results of that analysis. Rewards Offer High Returns Another preconceived notion popular in the C suite is true: Rewards programs require a significant investment. And most leaders in the community financial institution space are aware of that. What they may not understand is how huge the return on that investment can be. In fact, the TMG-IQR team’s analysis revealed rewards cards are 79 percent more profitable than their no-frills counterparts. Within the study, the effect of rewards cards on engagement levels was evident. Larger ticket sizes and more transactions generated higher purchases and balances, regardless of the size of […]

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Members Want Cars, Not Loans

CU staffers get great results when they put themselves in members’ shoes. By Laura Lynch At the ServiStar users group meeting in Atlanta last month, 100 credit union staffers put themselves in the shoes of their members and prospective members. At my table, we created a prospective member named Olive, a 21-year-old college graduate who had just landed her first professional job and recently gotten engaged. Olive needed to open a checking account and begin saving for her wedding. She was hearing about retirement at work and getting advice that she should plan for her first house and a family. “Start with what is it that the member wants,” recommended Tansley Stearns, CME, CSE, chief impact officer at Filene, Madison, Wis., and a presenter at the users group. “They don’t want a car loan. They want a new car.” “Understanding the emotional response of members along the way (for any loan) is important,” she explained. “When doing a mortgage, there is a lot of paperwork and then members wait. Members are wondering, ‘What’s going on? Will I get my house? The appraiser just came; what happens now?’” Stearns encouraged attendees to map out the emotional experience for key member processes […]

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Enlist Cardholders in the Fight Against Fraud

App-based card controls can help members identify suspicious activity quickly. By Mick Oppy Sponsored by Vantiv Fraud continues to be a problem in the United States, and it isn’t going away any time soon. It hurts card issuers, financial institutions, merchants, and cardholders alike. Gemalto reports a total of 888 data breaches in the first half of 2015, up 10 percent from the 803 breaches that occurred during the same period the previous year. Implementing EMV technology and chip cards to combat in-store fraud is expected to drastically reduce card-present fraud. But that decrease will likely include a counter reaction of increased fraud in card-not-present environments. The good news about EMV for financial institutions is that merchants now share the responsibility for preventing fraud instead of leaving the burden solely on issuers. Savvy financial institutions can go a step farther to ease the burden of fraud by putting fraud controls in the hands of cardholders. Giving cardholders control over their own cards is a great way to enlist their help in the fight against fraud. When cardholders have the power to restrict their card from being used in businesses they don’t frequent, for amounts they wouldn’t charge, and geographic locations […]

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Characteristics of Today’s High Performing Boards

They promote dialog and thinking, have a diverse membership, know about partnering and leadership, and are self-aware. By Stephanie Schwenn Sebring Catalytic questions encourage dynamic dialog and critical thinking, and better thinking leads to a higher-performing organization, says Cathy Trower, Ph.D., president of Trower & Trower, Inc., Weare, N.H., and author of The Practitioner’s Guide to Governance as Leadership: Building High Performing Nonprofit Boards. Outstanding dialog and thinking are important, Trower says, because the CU industry is primed for disruption. “So much is changing, and financial institutions are facing new challenges daily. Boards must be ready to face an ever-shifting, complex environment,” including not only the financial services and fintech marketplaces, but also the credit union’s own internal culture. According to Trower, the good thinking done by the highest performing boards comes in part from having members with diverse views. “Today’s board is about partnering and leadership,” she says. “It’s debating the tough stuff (not the details). And it is not rubber-stamping management’s decisions. The ultimate board is a high-performance team of inspiring, inquisitive, and knowledgeable leaders. “It can be difficult for some successful people to set aside their egos; it’s natural for people to become vested in their own […]

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3 Steps to Collections Success

Be prepared; speak with confidence and authority; and be an expert negotiator. By Brad Young Sponsored by SWBC Those of us that have been in the collections business for some time understand that calling and collecting past-due payments is not always a perfect science; sometimes, it’s more of an art. Not everyone has the confidence and tenacity to be a successful collection agent, so hiring the right people is critical to the overall success of any collection operation. However, even the most qualified, highly trained collectors should have a strategy and process in place to achieve optimal success every time they make contact with a delinquent borrower. Be prepared. Before beginning a call, the agent should be armed with all necessary details of the debt—the amount owed, the type of loan, the due date, the number of days the loan is past due, and basic information about any other existing accounts within the institution. Essentially, the agent should be armed with a complete picture of the debtor’s situation so the agent can’t be derailed by questions requiring research. It’s also a good idea for the agent to have an idea about the debtor’s payment history. Is the borrower typically late […]

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Responsive, not Reactive, Member Business Lending

Your board needs to establish the strategic context for your CU’s program. By Molly Parsells                                                                                                         You see parents tell their children to think before acting. This is so the child has time to consider his options and respond to the situation he’s in, rather than just react to it. A credit union looking at launching member business lending may need to count much higher than 10 before it moves forward. In fact, the board of a credit union looking to succeed with MBL needs to take the time to develop a strategic context for its program. Fortunately, with enough foresight and good planning, a CU can respond rather than react to the MBL opportunity, according to Jim Devine, founder, chairman and CEO of Hipereon, Inc., and lead faculty for CUES Advanced Director Strategy Seminar, which will focus on boards’ role in setting the vision for MBL. According to Devine, a CU member business services and lending program has the potential to generate high net interest margins on loans and provide cross-selling opportunities. To make this possible, a board needs to set out a vision that the program will be run by qualified staff members and be based on a […]

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8 Steps to Achieving the Security ‘Trifecta’

Credit unions can win big with bets on these three main ingredients of a robust protection strategy. By Terrence Griffin Sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services Increasing security, reducing fraud and minimizing risk are the three main ingredients of a strong and robust security strategy. But how can credit unions achieve this trifecta of protection? The basic tools and methods of increasing security must be supported by a dedicated and committed organizational mindset to expand beyond the basics of “just enough” security. Fraudsters’ constantly advancing techniques and eye toward exploiting each new opportunity are the enemy of a good security strategy. The only guard is constant vigilance. A strategic approach to the 24/7 battle to increase security, reduce fraud and minimize risk should include at least the following eight points: 1. Build a strong overall organization security system. It’s been said often in sports that “Good defense wins championships.” It’s perhaps the essence of security. 2. Mitigate fraud with clear processes and procedures. If security efforts have both allies and foes, confusion over what to do is surely a foe. 3. Set up limits to data access for temporary employees, vendors, partners and staff. Not everybody has a “need to know” […]

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Simplify the Payment Reconciliation Process

Make cool member offerings cool for staff, too, by better coordinating batches with your core. By Jason O’Brien Sponsored by SWBC Payment options and consumer convenience are all the rage. You can’t peruse a credit union trade publication or website without reading about the growth of fintech and financial management applications and how they affect the relationship you have with your members. And these are things we should be talking about. Technology and changing consumer expectations will have an impact on traditional financial transactions, and credit unions have to be prepared to meet this consumer demand, or risk losing engagement with a future generation of members. However, credit unions should not lose sight of the implications that deploying new payment technology has on the back end and on the bottom line. One of the most critical parts of payment processing is the settlement of funds to your members’ accounts. Initially, when you launch a new payment channel, it may be okay to have a team member manually run reports and process the individual credits that have been issued to an operating account at the financial institution. However, as your payment volume increases, this approach will become more and more prone […]

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4 Habits of Successful CIO-Leaders

Spoiler alert: Technical prowess isn’t chief among them. By Butch Leonardson One of the more interesting realities of becoming a leader is discovering that how you think is more important than what you know. While what you know helped you become an executive, how you think will determine how well you flourish in your leadership role. This is particularly true for chief information officers. Technical skills and individual excellence help people get promoted or hired into the CIO role. But there, expectations are much different. Being too focused on the technology in your CU can actually limit your effectiveness as a leader. CIOs that develop the following four habits will be more likely to emerge as successful leaders. Start with the end staff or member experience in mind and then work back to the enabling technology. This is called “outside-in” thinking. The use of technology with no compelling vision can cause layers of cost to be built up with no cohesive benefits or purpose. Another way of saying this is: “Try to avoid running to new shiny technology objects.” If you focus instead on the resulting experience, you’ll often find the enabling tool already in your shop. Become an expert […]

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Leaders Know How to Use Their Voices

Here are three ways to use yours more effectively. By Veronica Rueckert A growing body of research shows that when it comes to qualities like authority, leadership and charisma, voices matter. For example, researchers from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business analyzed the voices of 792 chief executives at major publicly held companies and found that male leaders with low voices made significantly more money, managed larger companies, and lasted significantly longer as heads of their respective firms. When it comes to leadership, it pays to think about the voice. Most of us treat the voice as something unalterable, like eye color or height. But the voice is an instrument in its own right, one that packs a powerful emotional punch. The business professionals I coach discover that learning to use the voice is no different from training for a 5K race. You can train your voice just like you can train your body. To bring your vocal game up to speed, here are three things to try: If you’re a man, explore the low range. Sociologists from Kent State University studied interviews on The Larry King Show and found that lower status people tend to match the low frequencies […]

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Ensuring Your Culture Sticks

7 tactics for maintaining a strong corporate culture   By Gabe Krajicek I’ve talked about the value of a strong culture and how to build one in “Culture Doesn’t Equal Employee Perks” and “4 Steps to Engineering a Great Culture.” But then what? Here are seven best practices for making sure your culture thrives. Hiring: It’s a lot harder to get someone to change their personality to fit your culture than to hire people who already fit. I recommend clearly articulating the culture in all job postings so non-fit prospective employees can opt out before they even apply. Onboarding: At Kasasa, all new employees are shown a video of me explaining our values. They receive a booklet that details the company’s values and describes real-world application of the behaviors we demand. New hires are then tested on the values and forced to retake the exam until they pass. Next employees spend a full day in our “War College,” where they examine the values in great detail through structured exercises and presentations from existing employees. Employee Reviews: Either your culture is important enough to measure or it’s not important at all. Most employee reviews focus on job performance. If there is a […]

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Branches 2016: Building Relationships

Three mantras to keep top of mind. By Craig Beach Sponsored by CO-OP Financial Services Branches have been foundational to the credit union service proposition since the beginning. What’s more, branches continue to deliver unique value to your members today, remaining one of your most strategic assets. Focusing on fast-evolving mobile and digital platforms is vital, but so is investing in branching. For consumers, there are simply times when business is best conducted face to face. To keep forging forward in meeting members’ needs, keep the following three mantras top of mind: Self-Service Delivers Speed and Convenience. Your branch should be designed to serve members in any way they want to be served, and having the right self-service strategy in place helps you achieve this. Surveys, time and again, reflect that members value convenience and speed. And self-service works best when technologies deliver the same level of service that a live teller gives. So if a bank of smart ATMs makes it convenient for members to access their accounts, deploy the technology. Remember that the human touch matters. Consider equipping your ATMs with a video concierge option that connects members to representatives–and support self-service tools with a full-service employee who […]

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Don’t Just Wish Your CU Could Give More…

Use cause marketing strategies and a charitable donation account to make it reality. By John Pesh Is your credit union like 60 percent of its peers that told us (at our 2015 CUNA Mutual Group Discovery Conference executive benefits booth) that they wish they could give more to their favorite charities? Take a moment to think how much it would benefit your community, and your credit union, to increase donations to your chosen 501(c)(3) charity or foundation or the National Credit Union Foundation. Cause marketing strategies and charitable donation accounts are tools you can use to help. A CDA is a professionally managed investment portfolio, which follows rules set by the National Credit Union Administration in 2013, with the potential to earn more than traditional credit union investments, and allowing your credit union to retain up to 49 percent of the earnings for your bottom line. Your CDA investment can work much harder for your credit union (and community) if you follow some basic cause marketing strategies, such as these five: Believe wholeheartedly in the cause. Connect with a cause that your board, management and employees are passionate about, giving everyone a reason to be enthusiastic about participating in fundraising […]

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The Secret Sauce for Avoiding a ‘Fintech Apocalypse’

Four ingredients can make members’ lending experience meet their expectations. By Paul Kirkbride In my recurring apocalyptic nightmare, startup lenders–backed by venture capitalists–overrun the traditional financial services sector. In the aftermath of their marketplace attack, the now-barren lending landscape contains the sad remnants of once powerful cooperatives that mistakenly placed too great an emphasis on “great service and low price,” in a world now obsessed with speed and ease of use. It’s the start of the fintech dynasty. OK, that’s a little over the top, but I do think we need to focus our attention a bit more on the hordes of cash being fed into these startups, as 2015 proved to be another record year, and we’ll see more of the same in 2016. Wall Street clearly sees a weakness in how lending is done today. And I’d be hard-pressed to argue they’re wrong. As a whole, I don’t think credit unions and banks have taken into account the high expectations of their future borrowers. To understand how consumer expectations have changed, simply look at Amazon’s Prime Now. A one-hour delivery service isn’t solving a serious societal problem (you don’t need this by noon today). It’s more about Amazon […]

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Translating Analytics Into True Understanding

‘Business intelligence’ is successful when it helps you add profitable members. By Scott McClymonds Peter Drucker said the purpose of a business is to get a customer. My version of that is to get a profitable customer. Any meaningful improvement starts with understanding your members and markets, especially your ideal ones. Since profitable members are the lifeblood of your credit union, the changes or improvements you should prioritize are the ones that will do the best job of attracting and keeping them. This process starts with understanding your members and markets better than anyone else. Some people call this business intelligence, analytics, or big data; I prefer to describe it as the process of acquiring and retaining ideal, profitable members. Why? Business intelligence, analytics, big data, and other common buzzwords don’t do a good job of describing the desired end result of acquiring profitable members, and they fail to address the many issues a business must navigate to make business intelligence profitable. People using these terms typically approach gaining profitable members as a technical exercise rather than making analytics the fuel uniting the myriad parts of the organization, such as leadership, strategy, culture, people, process, systems. Many make gaining profitable members a […]

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How Does Your Skip Coverage Measure Up?

Three key components of a proficient vehicle recovery partner. By Karen Townsend Sponsored by SWBC Managing risk is both an art form and a science. Understandably, many auto lenders fear making the wrong collateral protection insurance choice. Although charge-offs at U.S. banks decreased 0.28 percent from fourth quarter 2014 to second quarter 2015, a loss is a loss and the goal of all lenders is to keep repossessions as low as possible and minimize risk to the best of their ability. With CPI, skip coverage is one of those perceived risk mitigation tools. It protects lenders when borrowers are unable to pay on their loans and/or keep up with their state obligation to pay auto insurance premiums. However, not all skip coverage is created equal. A proficient provider of this vital auto lending risk management component will be armed with tools and resources to give your credit union the best opportunity to recover its collateral and maximize the return on its investment. This could include: a vast network of reliable partners that gives your credit union access to volume-based rates that can save you money and help you achieve the highest return on your assets. technology integration to streamline skip […]

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