LAS VEGAS (11/6/14)---Nearly everyone over the age of 12 may have some fleeting dream of being a rock 'n' roll star, but in the credit union movement being a credit union rock star is what it is all about.
A credit union rock star is someone who demonstrates outstanding innovation and creativity in their chosen fields--and by doing so has made the credit union movement a better, more interesting place. The world is full of them.
At the Credit Union National Association's Community Credit Union & Growth Conference here, six of the 46 CU Rock Stars recently profiled in CUNA's Credit Union Magazine highlighted for conference attendees how they turn their passions and ideas into actions to serve their members and their communities.
Rich Jones is senior vice president of sales, marketing and business development for Eli Lilly FCU, Indianapolis, with $1.3 billion in assets. He has extensive experience in working with senior management and boards in understanding how marketing and business development affect balance sheets and income statements.
Credit unions "are under a flow of major disruption," Jones said. He invited audience members to think about the newly introduced Apple Pay to find an example of a disruptor. "We have to pay real attention."
He said that he believes that being a credit union is a true differentiator in the financial marketplace but warned that credit unions have to educate consumers about the difference. He said consumers "don't understand our model and our value proposition." Since credit unions don't have the "scale or clout" of the big banks, to consumers they are "just another community bank."
"So we have to have a strategy that differentiates us from all the others," he added. "If your strategy isn't about being different, then your strategy is probably flawed."
He said credit unions can't proceed with "business as usual" but must embrace "business as "transformational." They must be "better, different, easier and more accessible."
Jonathan Patrick described how his credit union has gotten into the business of micro-funding to help "true startups" launch and grow. Patrick is senior vice president/chief lending officer at $220 million-asset UT FCU, Knoxville, Tenn.
"It's not about making money--we're a credit union. Our job is to have an impact on our community," Patrick said, adding that UT FCU has created a continuum of capital where not many in his community are willing to do it. However, he added, its efforts in the community have clearly helped in the credit union's branding.
In Oshkosh, Wis., Bryce Roth is director of cooperative outreach at $402 million-asset CitizensFirst CU and is a co-founder of Chatter Yak!! LLC, a marketing and advertising credit union service organization. He talked about attracting millennials as members and said in the past few years his credit union has been able to reduce the average age of its membership by two years.
He described his credit union's vibrant financial education programs for 18- to 25-year-olds as a key to attracting younger members.
"As a community organization, whether they are members or not, the more financially savvy we can make our young people, the better off we all are," Roth said, joking that it does, in fact, take a lot of pizza and soda to meet that goal.
He called the community outreach for millennial financial literacy "the differentiator we have."
Megan Hendrix is project manager/executive assistant at Honor CU, St. Joseph, Mich., and chair of the $585 million-asset credit union's community fund, Powered by Hope. That fund is on track this year to donate more than $50,000 to local charitable organizations.
Hendrix summed up her advice to credit unions this way: Don't be afraid of the hard work.
Michael Jordan, who is vice president, branch administrator/security officer of $1.3 million-asset Metro CU, Chelsea, Mass., reminded his credit union audience to be advocates for their members--and related his work to get his credit union's branch offices set up with Wi-Fi because that is what his members wanted.
Jordan said that it is a credit union's job to help members with what they want--and in the current environment they have high-tech demands and expectations. "Listen to your members strategically," he recommended.
From $455 million-asset NRL FCU, in the Washington, D.C.-Metro area, Stephanie Ludington is director of human resources and training. She has focused her efforts over 12 years with the credit union on the educational growth of her credit union's team members by setting up self-study programs, creating learning retention projects and helping employees enhance their abilities.
She encouraged credit unions to "keep striving to think outside of the box."
"Look at what you do and see if you can do it more efficiently," she said.