Community CUs: Like it or not, CU change is coming, says Sievewright

September 28, 2015

PHOENIX (9/28/15)--The pace of change that we will live through in the next 20 years will be remarkable, Mark Sievewright, president, Credit Union Solutions at Fiserv, told attendees of CUNA’s Community Credit Union and Growth Conference.

In a general session presentation entitled “Changes in the Credit Union Business Model: How the Future of Credit Unions Will Evolve in the Next 20 Years,” Sievewright said the future is terrible hard to predict--but then he went ahead and gave it a shot anyway.

“I think we’re now at a crossroads,” Sievewright said at the conference last Thursday, which was held jointly last week with the annual meeting of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions. The conference ended Friday. “Because there are so many, what I call mega-trends converging together at the same time, we’re going to see a complete transformation of our business over the next 20 years.”


Mark Sievewright

Perhaps the biggest trend, said Sievewright, is the continued evolution of technology. Mobile technology and the emergence of nontraditional players in the marketplace will do nothing but put pressure on credit unions to adapt to consumer and member preferences, he added.

While some of the new players, such as peer-to-peer lenders, appear to be just getting started, some already have made serious dents in the market.

“What if I told you Lending Club is just about to go past $12 billion in loans originated,” Sievewright said, adding, “If they were a credit union, they would be in the top 10 or 15 in the country.”

Not every new product or new-age financial services provider may succeed, but it’s clear consumers are looking to these types of alternatives at a higher rate, he added, and if credit unions don’t acknowledge this, well, there’s a precedent for that.

“Kodak had engineers on (its) team, working for the company, who told them digital was going to be big,” Sievewright said. “They said, ‘Hey, we can see this coming.’ It’s called digital photography, and no one is going to want to (use film) anymore once digital gets here, and the further irony is that if Kodak had listened to those engineers at the time, it still had 10 years ahead of it before digital became what it is.”

Sievewright said the same situation is facing credit unions now.

“This is like me saying, ‘Hey, in 10 years coming, this is going to happen, and I guarantee it’s going to happen. Are you going to do anything about it?’”