The credit union branch manager has always had to adjust to change, whether it’s to new products, transaction processing, regulations, or staffing needs.
Similarly, we also have to juggle a myriad of specialties: Security issues, loans, deposits, coaching, facilities. It’s a dynamic environment.
Our first priority, however, will always be the same in our branches: to improve members’ financial lives. Working in close collaboration with staff to serve members will be our main role today and 10 years from now.
That’s not to say we won’t have to keep adjusting to the times. Branch managers will be more digitally focused and more consultative. They’ll need to understand how the credit union delivers services, and help their staff understand as well.
While digital continues to dominate new services and payment channels, we must stay abreast of the basics. Although the back-office area may control the overall process, the branch manager must help staff communicate product and service benefits to members.
‘Branches—and branch managers—are the trusted face of the credit union.’
Serving members is no longer just about processing transactions efficiently and balancing cash drawers.
Members can do simple transactions from anywhere. They’re coming to our facilities for more complicated issues: problems logging in, help with accounts, discussions about loans and investments.
The branch manager’s move from transaction processor to consultant started years ago. Branches—and branch managers in particular—are the trusted face of the credit union. It’s where members first turn for help.
Branch managers must understand leadership and strategy, and this will take training and development. Credit unions need to invest in their people early in their careers to develop and nurture them.
All departments benefit from understanding the big picture, but especially the member-facing branch personnel. Understanding the why behind what we do improves member understanding as well.
The knowledge gained from those directly in front of members is incredibly valuable. No matter how well-intentioned, plans that don’t gather information directly from staff who work with members each day will miss key insights.
Senior leaders who understand our members will be well-equipped to shape strategy moving forward.
JULIE LINCH is senior vice president, retail delivery, for $850 million asset Directions Credit Union in Toledo, Ohio, and a member of the CUNA Operations & Member Experience Council Executive Committee.