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    A Credit Union Man: Part 1


    Growing up, if you asked Pops what he did for a living, he would tell you, "I'm a credit union man." My father’s credit union career has spanned four decades. Along the way, he taught his family the important role credit unions play in our local communities, both as co-ops and in serving the underserved.

    My name is James K Ryan, Jr. and credit unions are in my blood.

    The credit union movement plays an important and irreplaceable part in the American economy and in local communities. If we value the business relationship between lender and borrower, it is vital that the credit union movement stays strong and local. In the last five years, laboring under new regulation, the number of credit unions declined by 1,067, a 14% decrease [Tweet this stat!] in number of local institutions. It's pertinent that we, who believe in the credit union movement, continue to network, forging new relationships that will lead to mutually beneficial business partnerships.

    Everyone that works at a credit union, the corporate, the league, and even many of us working at a para-credit union business are in this movement together. As part of our focus on supporting lenders and their bottom lines, our company designs programs to accomplish three goals:

    1. Increase efficiency

    2. Reduce cost

    3. Enhance the member experience

    Today, I want to delve into the importance of increasing efficiency, and we’ll tackle the other two points in subsequent blog posts.

    Goal 1: Increasing Efficiency

    Increasing efficiency is not synonymous with reducing staff. In fact, credit unions that are increasing efficiency are simply pivoting away from functions that can be outsourced to trusted partners and refocusing human resources on the credit union core competency—lending. By leveraging business partners’ technology, credit unions are increasing efficiency which makes room for powerful strategic initiatives:

    1. Energize Financial Literacy

    One of the things that I love most about working with credit unions is the relationship with members is always put first. I don’t believe this will ever change. Yet, when staff members are asked to wear multiple hats, they inevitably have less time and energy to dedicate toward member relationships. One member-focused initiative that comes to mind is the importance of giving members access to financial literacy programs. Naturally, this can be a challenge when vital staff members are tied up with mundane functions that could easily be outsourced.  

    2. Elevate Sales Skills

    For some of my credit union business partners, a sales culture has not always been a part of the fabric of the institution. I get it; it’s just not in the credit union mentality to “push products.” Yet, educating and informing members about the products and services that are available to save them money and stress—products such as GAP with PowerBuy™ that potentially reimburse members for the depreciation they experience after a theft or total loss—absolutely is not pushing products.

    By offering the best products at competitive prices, your team is elevating your members’ positions in the marketplace. By increasing efficiency, you could free up the resources you need to ensure your loan officers and front-line staff have the training and encouragement they need to elevate their sales skills.

    3. Emphasize ROA and ROI

    When the chips are counted, a credit union must show a return like any business. Not only do healthy ROA and ROI please board members, these factors allows you to better serve your community with reduced fees, lower loan interest rates, and higher savings rates. In turn, emphasizing ROA and ROI increases member loyalty. When you increase efficiency, it allows you to redirect resources, time, and energy toward increasing returns, strengthening the local credit union and the credit union movement itself.    

    I am passionate about the credit union movement. I am proud to represent SWBC because we are helping hundreds of credit unions serve their communities. Often, the companies that line the convention halls of our league meetings are called 'vendors'. In my opinion, vendors sell hot dogs. That is not what I do when I get up early and stay up late meeting with the credit unions in my territory. When I get up early, kiss my family goodbye, and buckle into my rolling office, I too am a credit union man making a positive impact on credit unions' bottom lines and helping my partners serve their members.

    People helping people—what a wonderful idea.

    Stay tuned for my next post, where we will dive into the practical ways that lenders can reduce costs.

    Upgrade from the standard GAP with SWBC's GAP with PowerBuy

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