Jeff Rendel likes to joke that “if you’ve seen one credit union, you’ve seen one credit union.”
But while every institution is unique, the strategy and leadership consultant has identified some universal truths about strategic planning through his daily communication with credit union leaders and the more than 100 days a year he spends on the road.
The foremost is that credit union boards must keep their focus on the future and the big picture, giving credit union staff latitude to create their own path to achieve the goals directors establish.
“What's most important on the strategic side is, where do your members need your credit union to go?” Rendel says in a replay of the CUNA News Podcast. “What do we need to be thinking about and investing in and considering for the next three to five years of serving our members, versus how do we grow from 2.1 products and services per member to 2.2? What are we doing to prepare for growth five years from today?”
As credit unions enter the strategic planning season for the coming year, Rendel stresses the need for open, fluid conversations between the board and senior management. And, drawing a parallel from his early days in community banking, Rendel reminds directors to approach this responsibility mindful of their fiduciary responsibility toward members.
“I look at credit union members as investors. They are the owners of the institution,” says Rendel.
“When we look at our members as investors it tells us these are the folks who have risked their capital—maybe it's $500, maybe it's $50,000—and are expecting a return,” he adds. “That return might be services, it might be more well-priced products and services, it could be patronage dividends, or a combination of all that. They expect a return on their investment because they have choices in financial services.”