From the editor
It’s May! This has always been my favorite month, and not only because it’s the month of my birthday. With May’s flowers and warm days (at last), it seems so full of promise and optimism. This year, May feels even more joyful than usual, as we step out into a re-opening world. Many of us are vaccinated or will be soon.
There seems so much to be hopeful about. Therefore, I read each article in this issue with my rose-colored glasses on, looking for the positive—and found these tidbits:
Credit unions needed to quickly change how they staged events last year. And that work is still paying off! One example: Between March and November 2020, $363 million First Northern Credit Union, Chicago, hosted monthly webinars and virtual forums that were attended by almost 900 members. It is continuing that success in 2021. Read more about engaging with members through remote events in “A Mindset to Match the Times.”
Cloud-based payment systems can help credit unions save staff time, reduce costs and increase the speed with which they offer new services. Read more about the state of payments in our special report.
In the U.S., vaccinated people have been given the green light to travel, which should make credit union consultant Bryn C. Conway, MBA, CUDE, happy. You’ll understand when you read her article, “Postcards From the Future.” She talks about the work credit unions should be doing now to be ready to market loans in a post-pandemic world—comparing it to how you plan, execute and learn from a trip.
Credit unions applying lessons and successes from the pandemic to their long-term branch strategy is encouraging. For example, when $940 million Telhio Credit Union, Columbus, Ohio, reopened in mid-October, branches were making greater use of interactive banking kiosks. Telhio CU currently has two of these kiosks in branch lobbies and has plans to add four more in 2021, says Jessica Bing, the CU’s chief communications officer.
Credit unions affirmed they know how to pivot. “The pandemic encouraged us as well as our members to try new things,” says Mary Svoboda, interim president/CEO of $496 million JAX Federal Credit Union, Jacksonville, Florida. “We gained flexibility. Some tellers moved to the contact center or to collections. They picked up new skills. Now they’re prepared for the higher-level activities that will occur in branches in the future.” Read more about how both CUs (and others) are preparing for “The Great Unlock” in our cover story.
Of course, not everything is rosy: Bill Vogeney, chief revenue officer at $7.6 billion Ent Credit Union in Colorado Springs, writes about several threats to credit union lending in “Is Your Credit Union Prepared for Attacks on the Model?” But he also offers tips for how credit unions can keep their focus and stay on the offensive.
What do you see that is good (or not so good) in the credit union world right now? Let me know!
P.S. If you are missing travel and the synergy and energy that comes from meeting face-to-face, you’ll be glad to know that CUES in-person events are back! Visit cues.org/in-person-events to see what we have planned for credit union directors and executives this year and next, as well as the safety protocols in place.