4 actionable insights for strategic planning

Harnessing data and understanding cryptocurrency will be key for future success.

July 27, 2022

Listen to the article

4 actionable insights for strategic planning

When it’s time for your next strategic planning session, what topics will be top of mind when preparing for your credit union’s future?

The 2022-2023 CUNA Environmental Scan (E-Scan) explores trends shaping the future of the credit union industry and provides insights that will allow credit unions to make intelligent decisions.

Following are four of the trends the E-Scan explores.

1. Data as the new oil

There are many metaphors for data, but one that resonates is “data as the new oil.” 

Emily Engstrom, director of customer success for CUNA Mutual Group, Fintech Solutions, gravitates toward this metaphor because it’s the best at calling out a common failure among legacy organizations: the activation of data.

If we think of data as oil, we must also think of it as useless on its own. Imagine someone drops off a bucket of petroleum in your driveway. Before that petroleum can deliver any value, it must first be refined into fuel. 

It must then be safely integrated into whatever machine you need to get your job done.

You’d be hard pressed to find an organization that is not sitting on a ton of data (oil). Less ubiquitous, however, are organizations that are proficient at analyzing (refining) that information.

Rarer still are the teams that have mastered activating (igniting) their data.

2. Cryptocurrency: an enigmatic frontier

The question of financial institutions’ strategic role in cryptocurrency has been percolating for years.

The strategic questions facing credit unions involve both when and how—or if—to participate in the cryptocurrency space.

Even credit unions electing not to engage in some limited fashion should be prepared to provide members with some degree of education on this increasingly common financial product and to ready contingency plans for rapid response should crypto and related decentralized finance endeavors siphon off deposit balances and loan originations, writes Glen Sarvady, managing principal at 154 Advisors. 

Roughly 20% of Americans have owned or currently own cryptocurrency in some fashion—a clear indication the market has progressed beyond the “bleeding edge” stage dominated by tech zealots.

In fact, it’s highly likely that members at virtually every credit union are active in crypto. Scans of transaction activity for transfers to crypto trading platforms have confirmed this reality.

3. Legal hurdles impact post-pandemic work

The coronavirus crisis has fundamentally changed how we work. After more than two years of living in a pandemic, employers and employees are navigating a new normal in which it appears the COVID-19 virus may be with us for some time.

Variants threaten to compromise the progress we have made against the deadly virus. This means credit union leaders must continue to navigate a fraught and uncertain employment law landscape.

The compliance picture changes daily as new orders, regulations, and legislation emerge to address the coronavirus and associated employment issues.

Authors Michael Gotzler and Nina Neff of Littler Mendelson explore six issues to watch: remote work, vaccination requirements, COVID-19 testing, return to office, paid and unpaid leave, and the labor market.

CUNA Environmental Scan 2022-2023

4. A new world for advocacy

Advocacy wins in 2021, starting with efforts to remove an IRS reporting provision from a major spending bill, set the credit union movement up for continued success in the months ahead.

The CUNA-League advocacy team will focus on preserving credit unions’ role as financial intermediaries, ensuring financial well-being for all, expanding underserved consumers’ access to affordable financial services, fighting unnecessary regulation that impedes credit unions’ ability to serve members, and maintaining the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund operating level at 1.3% of insured shares.

Credit unions are in a good place because they’re fulfilling their mission and advancing the communities they serve, more than justifying their tax status.

Learn more about the E-Scan here.