CHAD GRAVES IS NOT “just the IT guy” anymore. He’s a leader in credit union payments, technology, and marketing.
Graves, the senior vice president for technology, payments, and marketing at Ent Federal Credit Union in Colorado Springs, Colo., says progression is important in all aspects of life.
“I believe it’s important to strive to be the best at what you do, and to do that you need to continually push yourself in to new areas,” says Graves, who aspires to be a CEO in the next few years.
Similarly, credit unions must stay relevant as consumers look to a growing array of entities, including many which hadn’t previously been involved in financial services, for their financial needs, he says.
Graves adds that senior leaders need to ensure they’re enabling true business transformation within their credit unions due to increasing regulatory concerns, security threats, and member demand for convenience and mobility.
“Failure to communicate as a management team about the credit union’s upcoming strategic challenges will result in fractured, more expensive solutions,” Graves says.
“Tomorrow’s consumers will expect instant gratification—with little to no effort on their part—and on the device of their choice,” Graves says. “Imagine getting a loan on your mobile phone or tablet—simply by selecting the amount that you need, choosing the payment that you are comfortable with, signing with your finger, and having the money in your account within five minutes or less—any time of the day.
“For credit unions to be relevant and to compete in the future, it will be imperative to create partnerships with each other and with leaders in technology,” he continues. “Credit unions can take the first steps today. Support standards efforts like CUFX [Credit Union Financial Exchange]. Get behind industry collaboration efforts like CU Wallet. Donate your time by serving on industry committees.”
Graves recommends fellow credit union leaders be involved with other credit unions and credit union industry events.
“It’s a lot easier to get different perspectives on a unique problem or business challenge by picking up the phone or sending an email to your peer network,” he says.
Future leaders should immerse themselves in their credit unions, according to Graves.
“Ask a lot of questions. Take time to really listen to others—too often people speak just to be heard. Volunteer for assignments that make you feel uncomfortable. Give back by being involved in your local association.”
He says he’s inspired by every opportunity to make a positive difference for employees and members, adding that a good member experience focuses on the actual wants and needs of the member—through convenience, simplicity, speed, and consistency.