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Cynthia Ryan believes in continuous learning.
The executive vice president/chief operations officer at $99 million asset Connect Credit Union in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is putting that into practice as she turns the calendar from 2022 to 2023.
CUNA News recently caught up with the CUNA Councils Operations & Member Experience member to discuss the year that was, the year ahead, current Connect initiatives, and tips she would offer young operations leaders.
Cynthia Ryan: I don’t know if we can say we're out, but flowing out of the pandemic, we implemented online chat and video with Glia. That was important to add to our digital channels.
We also became a community development financial institution (CDFI) credit union and applied for CDFI grants. That was a good learning experience and hopefully it will come to fruition in 2023.
We saw a decrease in fee income. We’ve had several internal discussions about what we need to do to make up for that.
And then general regulations, cybersecurity threats, and staffing are all takeaways from 2022 that are common in credit unions.
A: We’re going to continue being more member-centric with our processes, our service, and how we deliver products.
Digital transformation is important. We did a huge system conversion in 2019, but what are the pain points? While we’ve been opening loans online, are we completing that process in the best manner for members? We’re pretty efficient from a system standpoint. It’s about honing in on what we have and improving it.
We have mobile wallet products, but are our members using them? How do we educate the members? Although we have a real-time payment option, we are looking at Zelle because that's the most recognizable one right now.
For continuing digital transformation, we've looked at a couple vendors with artificial intelligence-type things. That’s a little out of our reach right now, but as a leader at my credit union, it's important to pay attention to those trends.
A: It’s always a challenge finding and retaining the right people. That's a lot of what I focus on.
Liquidity risk is a top priority, and we’re really paying attention to vendor contracts. If they don’t make sense for us, we look for other vendors. There are a couple we’ve swapped out because of the price increase.
We are also part of an awareness campaign to open peoples’ eyes to credit unions. Remaining relevant is probably the industry’s biggest challenge.
A: Loans and membership growth are among our top priorities. We've recently seen flat or declining membership.
Staff retention is also huge. We've done a good job with employees who have been here a while, but it’s been a challenge to retain newer employees.
We’ve had a high Net Promoter Score, so maintaining that would be another portion of a successful year.
A: I recently went to the CUNA Emerging Leaders School, which was fantastic.
I believe continuous learning is really important—always learning and being curious.
It’s also important to set goals for yourself. If there's something you want to do, learn, or accomplish, you are your own best advocate. That's served me well in my career.
Finally, there are a lot of things on the plate of operations, so control what you can control.
A: I have a group of friends that plays trivia at a local restaurant weekly. I love baking and cooking for family and friends, especially this time of year.