Article

Staying Strategic

CUES managing editor and publisher Theresa Witham
Theresa Witham Photo
VP/Publications & Publisher
CUES

3 minutes

From the editor

This month we examine strategy, including how to strengthen your strategic thinking. In “Effective Horizon Scanning,” the experts interviewed discuss what credit unions should be considering when they work on strategic plans and what trends they should be tracking. 

For example, it’s a good idea to stay on top of what’s happening with cryptocurrency. I was surprised to read in our cover story, “The Challenge of Cryptocurrency,” that 20% to 25% of Americans currently own bitcoin.  

“I don’t think there is another example of a financial service that is that popular that credit unions don’t touch in some form or fashion,” says Rahm McDaniel, head of banking solutions for NYDIG, a bitcoin services provider for several credit unions.  

“Even if you don’t believe in it, it is still worthwhile to research and talk about crypto and determine your position as an organization,” advises Brian McHenry, SVP/principal with c. myers. “It’s like any other trend in consumer behavior—you may ultimately decide not to do anything right now, but you need to understand it.” 

Another important trend to consider in your strategic scanning of the marketplace is artificial intelligence, which brings us to “AI Becomes Productive.” The CUs in this article are using AI to better fight and prevent fraud, make fast credit decisions, make personalized offers and communicate with members via chatbots.  

“AI makes it easier to invest in growth and innovation without taking on comparable expenses,” says CUES member David Tuyo, CCE, CIE, president/CEO of $1.1 billion University Credit Union. “We were able to cross the $1-billion-in-assets line with fewer than 100 employees.”  

AI can make a big impact on your CU’s lending. “If you’re using data to be predictive of your members and what their needs are, you can cut off competition,” says Steve Hewins, SVP of CUESolutions provider CU Members Mortgage in our special report on lending.  

Of course, no two CUs will have the same strategy, but all need a strong people strategy including succession planning at all levels. “Unfortunately, many credit unions still see succession planning as job replacement (rather than strategic), and we need to be systematic in recruiting our younger leaders and continuously developing and challenging them through their careers,” explains Deedee Myers, Ph.D., CEO of CUESolutions Provider DDJ Myers Ltd. Read more in “Increased Focus on Succession Planning.” 

If your CU needs help with its strategic and succession plans, consider sending a high-potential leader or two to CEO Institute I online next month. At this program, held in partnership with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, attendees learn to be agile, future-focused leaders. Get more information at cues.org/inst1-online.  

Finally, it’s great to talk about strategy, but how do you find time to think big picture when you are constantly putting out little operational fires? A small step I took, after prompting by the “Strategic Thinking” course in Harvard ManageMentor, was to add an hour to my calendar each Friday for what I call “strategic journaling.” I spend the time thinking long-term and jotting down my thoughts in a beautiful journal that I use for only this purpose cues icon

CUES Learning Portal