Develop a growth strategy

Connect strategy to mission and member value.

August 28, 2019

The most important factor to consider when developing a growth strategy is how your plan aligns with the credit union’s mission and the value it provides to staff, members, and the community.

“Ultimately, we’re all here to serve our members, employees, and communities,” says Jeff Disterhoft, president/CEO of $5.5 billion asset GreenState Credit Union in Iowa City, Iowa. “But if you can’t clearly connect the dots between your motives and growth itself, some level of introspection may be in order.”

His comments appear in “The Evolution of Organizational Growth,” a white paper from the CUNA CEO Council that examines credit union growth strategies.

“Growing just for the sake of growing doesn’t usually speak to people’s hearts,” he says. “But if we can show stakeholders what’s truly in it for them when the cooperative grows—and make it tangible—then we’re probably positioned for success.”

To start, determine the needs of current and potential members, and analyze the credit union’s balance sheet. Then, identify how long it will take to achieve the desired growth and gauge whether the plan is reasonable.

“First you need to determine what growth will look like from a financial performance standpoint and, realistically, what it will take to get there,” says Rhonda Hotard, president/CEO of $300 million asset Louisiana Federal Credit Union in LaPlace. “Once you know if your growth plan can be attained, you must determine the strategies that will work best for your organization.”

Jeff Disterhoft

‘Growing just for the sake of growing doesn’t usually speak to people’s hearts.’

Jeff Disterhoft

She suggests considering these questions when creating an asset growth strategy:

  • Is your current staff ready to take the next steps? Developing and hiring staff with the right expertise is critical.
  • Have you developed a framework for enterprise risk management? As the credit union grows, the risks you’ll have to manage will also grow.
  • What is your brand position? Determine how you will differentiate yourself from other financial institutions as your credit union’s membership base increases.
  • What is your digital footprint and how will it change as you grow? Technology will be key in the deployment of strategic initiatives.
  • How will you offer a member experience that’s unique while managing consumer demand?