Tony Boutelle

Embrace change and work together

Find the right partners and develop common solutions that put members’ interests first, CU Direct's Tony Boutelle says.

December 13, 2017

Using recent history as a guide, we’ll continue to see the consolidation of traditional financial institutions. There will also be a high concentration of technology-driven, nonfinancial-related companies innovating on service process.

There may be fewer credit unions, but the industry as a whole will be much stronger and in an enviable position to serve a diverse consumer market seeking a member-centric and cooperative experience.

Although consumers primarily will conduct financial transactions in real time through devices that are continually connected (and with less human contact), no single entity will own it, providing credit unions with a level playing field with other financial service providers.

The same can be said with other technological developments that may make their way into the financial services sector by that time, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, to advise consumers on financial choices and decisions.

How will credit unions change?

Credit unions, because of size, will need to work together over the next decade to decide on common solutions to not only remain relevant but be competitive.

Credit unions will have an entirely new grab bag of technology with which to consume and innovate, providing them with technology and data infrastructures that are flexible and scalable.

They will need to develop products and services that can effectively serve consumers who are looking for immediate gratification and rely on fewer human interactions.

The use of data to speak to consumer needs will be an evolved and matured discipline. Any company not implementing a highly-personalized consumer experience will have a difficult time competing, including credit unions.

Think of Amazon on 12 years of steroids and you’ll see how this could potentially play out.

Moving forward, to remain competitive credit unions will need to have a complete command of data analysis and processing, marketing personalization, and product customization. That needs to start now.

Success in the future

For continued marketplace success, the key is for credit unions to embrace change, partnering with tech-savvy, innovative aggregators, and working together to develop common solutions that have members’ best interest front and center.

This will help ensure that credit unions are not caught off guard as innovation continues to change the banking experience at an ever-quickening pace.

At the core of this, however, is never losing sight of the credit union mission, even as technology changes consumer behavior and provides countless options.

It’s always difficult to predict the future. That’s why it’s essential for credit unions to prepare today, work together and partner with companies committed to staying ahead of the curve.

With credit unions working on a unified front, we can accomplish great things, even as companies like Amazon, Apple, and Google invest billions to disrupt the financial services industry.

TONY BOUTELLE is president/CEO of CU Direct.

Future Forum
This article is part of a larger focus on the future of financial services. Read more at news.cuna.org/cufuture. And use the hashtag #CUFuture to join the Future Forum.