Thursday, February 22, 2018

Three Challenges and Three Solutions: Data Management for Credit Unions

By John Slack, Senior Solutions Strategist, AdvantEdge Analytics
In today’s data-driven world, credit unions understand the value of insights that can be gained from member data. Yet, for many, there’s uncertainty on how to make that happen, along with the usual technology growing pains. Creating a data platform is a great first step, and segmentation and predicting member needs is even better.

But how do you unlock the full potential of data? How do you open it up to the organization -- so your managers can readily access it and your marketing team can act on it? You’ll need to overcome three primary challenges credit unions face today.

Challenge One – Organization: The Devil is in the Details
If your business users lack the information they need, it’s likely due to fragmentation, a lagging IT infrastructure, or the big expense of getting and storing big data. The complexities of running multiple systems – mortgage LOS, consumer LOS, core, others – often result in a wide variety of disjointed perspectives… not that helpful.

What’s needed to solve fragmentation and other similar data issues is a framework, architecture and collective strategy that brings multiple systems together. This is where the devil is in the details. This strategy should include a data warehouse solution that sorts and “cleans” data, along with today’s best tools for presentation, such as OLAP cubes and application programming interfaces (APIs). These readily-available tools can help you efficiently organize data around business value, and pave the way to mining actionable insights.

Challenge Two – Translation: Where the Fun Begins
Many business users spend a lot of time collecting data, and not enough time analyzing it for a clear view of how to improve performance or make a sound decision. Without solid analytics that provide a complete picture of all data (versus ad hoc queries and reports that only tell part of the story), you simply can’t get the in-depth, enterprise-wide view you need.
A solution that incorporates structured data and models in a dynamic presentation layer is the answer, and where the fun begins. This allows your business users to translate, visualize and manipulate the data to test different theories (without affecting the underlying operational data). Being able to creatively work with the data in this way often leads to new ideas and business-boosting insights.

Challenge Three – Execution: Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Advanced analytics is where the rubber meets the road. Here data becomes truly actionable and yields reliable forecasting. Yet, most credit unions lack this capability. Adding to the difficulties is unstructured data, such as call center texts, spreadsheets, web log content and more. These data assets have high value, but take too much time and effort to extract manually.

Infrastructure systems that can support machine learning and predictive analytics can elevate your credit union’s capabilities, efficiently mine unstructured assets, and unlock the true potential of your data. It’s a powerful investment that can help your credit union:
·       Create accurate lifecycle stages among your members
·       Predict products and services they’ll add to their portfolio
·       Scale and allocate resources where they will do the most good
·       Roll out promotions when and where they’ll get the best results

For even more helpful tips on data management, read our whitepaper:  Data and Analytics Toolkit: Practical Success Factors for Your Data Management Solution.


Giving Back: A Partner with a Shared Mission

By Taylor Kilgore, Communications Consultant


Mission Central
Mission Central, a local non-profit organization in Fort Worth, Texas, provides a variety of services to the people they serve. One of their focus areas is giving groceries to people through mobile and village pantries, and CUNA Mutual Group employees are helping (1 min. and 58 sec .).

Chris McRay leads our employee philanthropy team in Fort Worth. With fellow employees, he volunteers once a month at their mobile food pantry. Our office there also holds several food drives each year to benefit Mission Central.


“Not only are we giving back to our local communities, but we’re also fostering teamwork among each other,” Chris said. “We show up and we get in a food line. We help them organize food, and then we pass it out to people.”

Mission Central is also associated with the Coat of Many Colors, which collects clothing for individuals in the community. If a family needs employment or financial assistance, Mission Central provides referrals to their Self Improvement Equals Personal Success (SIEPS) program and other agencies.

“We are here to help people, meet them wherever they are with the needs that they have,” said Paula Jernigan, Executive Director of Mission Central, “Mission Central empowers people in need to improve their own quality of life.”

According to McRay, supporting Mission central is a fulfilling opportunity: “I find that it gives depth to what I do in my job,” he said.

Learn more about the work CUNA Mutual Group is doing with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and with the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation.

Do you have a story to share? Tell us how you give back in your community on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Celebrate Black History but Recognize Today’s Challenges

 By Opal Tomashevska, Multicultural Business Strategy Manager

February is Black History Month, a time to honor and celebrate the cultures, achievements and history of black people. 

At CUNA Mutual Group we’re marking the month with displays of African crafts, recommended reading and facts on our buildings’ internal signage, and cultural food on the menu. In addition, we have revered racial justice activist Jane Elliott speaking to our employees about the ‘Anatomy of Prejudice.’

And it’s that word, prejudice, that we must also remember this month (and indeed all other months) because people of color are still struggling to achieve social and financial equity in so much of the world. For example, did you know black households are woefully underserved by traditional financial services, with one in five classified as unbanked, and one in three classified as underbanked? 

What does this mean in practice? Paying fees every time you need to cash a check, having low or no credit (Need a loan? Forget it.) and facing persistent risks of theft or loss. 

There are a whole host of reasons why black and other people of color shy away from financial institutions – from ingrained cultural trends to lack of branch access or a previous bad experience. 

In fact, in a recent article Marcus Anthony Hunter, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California-Los Angeles, explains the origin of this distrust, which extends back to the Civil War. But it persists because too many financial institutions continue to demonstrate a willingness for financial prejudice, from overcharging for loans or denying fair access to credit to people of color. 

I’m proud to work for an organization – and as part of a broader movement – that not only recognizes this as a problem, but is actively working toward a solution. 

I consider myself blessed to have been involved in developing CUNA Mutual Group’s multicultural center of expertise: a team formed specifically to increase our understanding of how race and culture can influence financial behaviors – to ensure that we, and the credit unions we support, are able to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse population for generations to come. 

Prejudice isn’t always intentional. That’s one thing I know for certain. But, I’ve learned we can marginalize whole communities with something as simple as how we accept bill payments or the language we use.  

So as we continue to honor, observe and celebrate Black History Month, I’m so excited to see the celebrations across CUNA Mutual Group. I’m also proud to hear us having the tough conversations. We don’t know all the answers, but the first step is asking the questions. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Finding Purpose in Your Career

By Anne Corrigan-Watson, Senior Performance Consultant

You have a purpose in your career. You know that, right?

I’ve been thinking about this lately after a volunteer experience brought it into perspective for me: I joined my team to help out at a local food bank last week. We spent time sorting food for the pantry and learning about poverty and hunger in America.  It was an educational experience that opened my eyes to the needs of everyday Americans, and it felt good to volunteer with my colleagues.

When I returned to work the next day, I couldn’t help but notice a connection between my volunteer experience and the purpose of my job.  As professionals in the credit union industry, our main purpose is to help people improve their financial futures.  Just as everyone deserves access to food, we all deserve access to the tools and resources that can help us achieve financial freedom.  As a lending professional, you can guide your members and help make a positive impact in their lives.

What steps can you take to ensure you are helping your members the best way you can? Join us in our upcoming webinar series, Loyal Lending*.  It’s available to credit unions who use our lending solutions. For lending professionals, this is more than simply attending a course. We’ll talk about how to find opportunities to help your members reach their financial goals and improve their financial well-being.

Register for our Loyal Lending webinar today to learn how you can live your purpose and make a positive impact on the lives of your members.  Or, check out the full schedule of our 2018 lending excellence webinars here.

*Loyal Lending is offered in February and April 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Giving Back: It's About People, Purpose and Perseverance

By Robert N. Trunzo
President, CEO

Today, leading companies drive success when they inspire employees to share, support and believe in a common purpose. They stay focused on their customers. They innovate, and they strive to make a positive impact on the world around us.

These all matter to the purpose-driven company, but don’t underestimate the value of corporate giving. It matters for many reasons, and it can have a significant impact on your business. In fact, more and more research now shows socially responsible companies have more loyal customers who can drive stronger business results.

Whether you value corporate giving for business reasons – or because it’s simply the right thing to do – I can tell you it’s definitely worth the investment. I can also tell you about three trends that have helped us continue our strong, dedicated program for giving back:


  1. We recognize it as part of our company culture.
  2. We give with purpose.
  3. We’ve made it a tradition.

Celebrating Tradition: 50 Years of Giving
This year, we're not only continuing our tradition of giving, we're celebrating it. That's because, as of today, the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation has been giving back for over half a century. In honor of this milestone, we’re contributing $20 million to our foundation. 

This new funding creates a substantial impact today, and it helps to ensure that our foundation is funded for years to come. And, should we encounter economic downturns in the future, we will still be in a position to be there for others when they need us most. This is who we are, and – more importantly – this is what we do.

Click here to read the full post on Robert's LinkedIn profile.
Or click here to learn more about the CUNA Mutual Group foundation.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Giving Back: It's a Long-term Commitment

Today we announced a $20 million contribution to the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, our philanthropic arm. The gift provides sustainable foundation funding, allowing it to help organizations for the long-term. That means continued support for nonprofits and initiatives that address economic challenges, education disparities and equity issues.
“It is imperative our foundation’s funding aligns with our company’s values and helps close the gap on economic and educational disparities in our communities,” said our president and CEO Robert N. Trunzo. “As a community leader, we will put this funding to work where we live, work and serve…”
The CUNA Mutual Group Foundation donates up to $2 million a year to local nonprofits and industry causes. It recently donated $400,000 to the National Credit Union Foundation’s disaster relief fund, among others.

Click here to read the full news release on this. 
Or, for more information on the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, click here.
-->

Monday, February 5, 2018

Credit Union Members Still Value the Human Touch

By Anne Corrigan-Watson, Senior Performance Consultant

The digitization of many financial services, including innovations like robo-advisors and chatbots, means members can complete transactions without ever seeing another person.  However, despite the speed and convenience of digital advancements, many consumers still prefer and appreciate interactions with real people. 

According to a recent study from Accenture Strategy, 77 percent of surveyed individuals want human interaction when they need guidance.  In fact, Credit Union Times reported that banking is expected to become more human in the next 10 years, as members continue to expect knowledgeable, personalized service.

As demonstrated in a recent survey, today, members look to credit unions for personal financial guidance.  When 2,000 consumers were asked about the quality of service they receive at their credit union, 62 percent said that credit union representatives are always knowledgeable and able to help.  

In the high-tech world we live in, it still comes down to being personal, caring and staying member-focused.  That’s what it’s all about.  After all, the credit union philosophy is people helping people.

So, how can you continue to enhance the member experience and provide the personalized guidance your members expect?  One way to learn more is by attending our upcoming webinar series, Member-focused Conversations: Guide with Confidence. The online sessions are available for free to our credit union partners who use our lending solutions.

Our performance consultants will share tips on how to confidently guide members by asking consultative questions to help them make more informed financial decisions.  Register today for the latest insights, or check out the full schedule of our 2018 lending and coaching excellence webinars here.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Cedric Ellis Named One of Wisconsin’s 35 Most Influential Black Leaders

One of Dane County’s leading African American news and culture sites, Madison365, recently named Cedric Ellis, our Chief Enterprise Services Officer, one of Wisconsin’s 35 Most Influential Black Leaders for 2017.

Introducing the listMadison365’s CEO and Publisher Henry Sanders said he wanted young people “to see role models of people who are succeeding, to know that it's possible for African Americans to achieve great things here.”

Ellis joined CUNA Mutual Group in 2005. His responsibilities include HR, IT, Diversity and Inclusion, Project Management, Continuous Improvement and Corporate Marketing.

Beyond his day job, Ellis donates much of his time and talents to several local organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County and the Urban League. Last year he was also recognized as an influential figure in Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ community.

"It’s an honor to be named on this list,” he said. “It's humbling to be in the company of so many community leaders who all provide such strong examples for others to follow in their personal and professional lives.

“I genuinely believe, however, that any influence I may have is a result of the wider support and ambition of CUNA Mutual Group. As an organization, we are absolutely committed to supporting diversity, equity and inclusion in the communities we serve. I’m proud to be a part of that.”

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Credit Union Trends Report: January 2018

Our Credit Union Trends Report for January 2018 is now available online. The report covers data from November 2017 and includes details on credit union memberships, loans, savings and more. Highlights include the following:
  • During November, credit unions picked-up 417,000 in new memberships, loan balances grew at a 9.6 percent seasonally adjusted annualized pace, while savings balances grew 7.1 percent. Firms hired 148,000 workers, nominal consumer spending increased 0.6% and long-term interest rates decreased 1 basis point. Third quarter economic growth was revised up to 3.2 percent and rose 2.3 percent over the last year.
  • At the end of November, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 5,806 CUs in operation, 9 fewer from one month earlier. Year-over-year, the number of credit unions declined by 248, more than the 221 lost in the 12 months ending in November 2016.
  • Total credit union assets rose 0.5 percent in November, above the 0.3 percent rise reported in November of 2016. Assets rose 6.4 percent during the past year due to a 6.7 percent increase in deposits, and a 7.2 percent increase in capital.
  • The nation’s credit unions increased their loan portfolios by 0.9 percent in November, greater than the 0.8 percent pace reported in November 2016. Loan balances are up 10.7 percent during the last 12 months. With loan balances growing faster than assets during the last year, the credit union average loan-to-asset ratio reached 69.9 percent up from 67.2 percent in November 2016.
  • Credit union memberships rose 0.37 percent in November, up from a 0.23 percent gain reported in November 2016. Memberships are up 4.6 percent during the past year due to robust demand for indirect auto credit, solid job growth and comparatively lower fees and loan interest rates versus banks.
  • Credit union loan delinquency rates fell to 0.80 percent in November, down from 0.82 percent one year earlier due to a stronger economy, lower gas prices and double-digit loan growth. Expect credit unions and banks to loosen credit standards in 2018 to keep loan growth robust.
Read the or download the full report by clicking here.