Board directors will need to set their sights on strategy, technology, and—most important—the member.
“Look to your CEO for their vision of the credit union’s future,” says Jeff Rendel, president of Rising Above Enterprises. “What’s required? What’s missing? What must change?
“Focus on industry changes and shifts in consumer preferences,” he adds. “Watch developments in retail space as leading indicators of the member experience.”
Rendel says the acronym “PFI,” or primary financial institution, may mean “present financial institution” in the future.
This will require boards to “understand that marketing must be continuous through a member’s relationship with the credit union.”
‘Focus on industry changes and shifts in consumer preferences.’
Navigating the future will require directors to have a deep understanding of the changes in financial services and retail businesses, Rendel says, along with an acceptance that great member service is “shifting toward technology over face-to-face.”
Credit Union Magazine asked three board members—Eric Day, $1.4 billion asset Credit Union of Southern California, Anaheim; Paul Sippl, $1.6 billion asset Fox Communities Credit Union, Appleton, Wis.; and Nhu Yeargin, $2.6 billion asset Langley Federal Credit Union, Newport News, Va.—what they believe the role of a credit union director will look like in 10 years.
Day: They will be vastly different, while at the same time they will remain the same in many ways. We will continue to make their member-owners the main focus and ensuring the credit union philosophy of people helping people continues.
However, our regulators have made it clear that their expectations for us will continue to increase. We will need to be much more knowledgeable in the ever-increasing complexities of running the credit union.
Sippl: More investment in technology and marketing, much more than in the past. A phrase I recently heard is, “the race toward technology is a race to indifferentiation.”
If we want to remain relevant with all of the disruptors entering our space, we need to strategically find the niche that keeps our organization unique.
Yeargin: Progressive boards are expanding their roles beyond conventional governance to include strategy development, talent management, and member-stakeholder relations. There may even be “full-time” compensated directors because a few meetings a month will no longer suffice.
Day: Directors must be able to fully read and understand a balance sheet and income statement so they know they are asking the right questions.
Too often, boards get mired in the details of how a new program will be implemented. Instead, they should be asking, “why is it needed?” and “how will it affect the well-being of the credit union?”
Veteran Aberdeen FCU director and chair of the CUNA Volunteer Leadership Committee is inspired by people helping people.
Sippl: Diversified skills sets are important. I also feel the future board member must be much more digitally aware.
The ability for futurist strategic planning is important. That’s an issue where credit union leadership will really look to the board for help.
Yeargin: Be more aware of the strategic options available to the organization and be quick to adapt or respond to change from disruptions caused by technologies, new types of competitors, increased demand for transparency, and economic conditions.
Sharpen your technological expertise on topics such as blockchain use, cybersecurity, and opportunities for process improvements through analytics and artificial intelligence.
Understand how to use decentralized autonomous organizations—small, timely, independent accountable decision-making groups—and artificial intelligence to establish and monitor strategy’s progress.
COMING UP: Learn about new roles and future expectations for boards, and get advice to help you succeed.