The World Council of Credit Unions welcomed hundreds of credit union professionals to day one of the 2021 World Credit Union Conference, opening the first all-virtual WCUC with a keynote speech and breakout sessions on the digital future credit unions must prepare for going forward.
World Council Board Chair Rafał Matusiak, who also serves as president of Poland’s National Association of Cooperative Savings and Credit Unions (NACSCU), welcomed attendees by thanking them for serving as financial first responders for their members during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I hope the next week is full of new ideas, networking and sharing the spirit of credit unions,” said Matusiak. “Together we are stronger, more agile and more effective.”
Greg Verdino, a business futurist & digital transformation expert, delivered the 2021 World Credit Union Conference’s first keynote speech, focusing on what he calls the “never normal” atmosphere credit unions now face due to the pandemic.
Verdino explained that COVID-19 ended normal as we know it, but instead of entering a new normal, he believes we should plan on facing a “never normal” that will feature a pace of change that has never existed before that will require each credit union to build a foundation for a change-ready, future-proof organization.
“All leaders need to embrace ambiguity, not merely tolerate it—lean into it,” said Verdino. “Commit to acting in the face of imperfect information, commit to experiment in the face of uncertain outcomes.”
Acknowledging that new, online-only financial service organizations are here to stay and will peel off a sector of consumers is part of the ambiguity credit unions must embrace and navigate, according to Verdino.
“How does a credit union remain relevant if the future of banking is no banks? What are some of the ways that you could create value for that new generation of customers,” asked Verdino, saying those are the types of questions credit unions must be able to answer if they are going to be successful going forward.
Changing the Culture of Digital Transformation
Wednesday morning breakout sessions offered attendees three education options, ranging from sustainable finance to cyber resilience and digital transformation.
In a presentation on “Changing the Culture of Digital Transformation,” Joe Sullivan, CEO of Market Insights, focused on the fact that one of the biggest roadblocks to successful digital transformation in the financial services industry is culture.
Sullivan explained culture change requires intense effort and is often the most challenging part of digital transformation.
“The importance of culture for you to be able to invest in digital and invest in technology is crucial,” said Sullivan. “It is an ongoing way of living at your organization. It’s an ongoing way of being.”
Sullivan also shared a framework for creating and cultivating a culture that both understands and advances digital transformation, providing attendees with:
WCUC 2021’s opening day messaging on digital transformation complements World Council’s Challenge 2025 initiative, which seeks to establish the digital transformation of the global credit union system by 2025.
The 2021 World Credit Union Conference runs through Wednesday, July 21.