Monday, August 13, 2018

Discovery Conference 2018: How Two Credit Union Leaders See the World

By Eric Nelson

Regardless of asset size, geography or membership base, all credit unions serve one mission: helping people achieve financial security. At Discovery Conference 2018, Colleen Woggon of Oakdale Credit Union and Chris Hollen of Diversified Credit Union will discuss the unique challenges – and advantages – facing small credit unions in today’s evolving financial world. 

Q: As a small credit union executive, how do you balance the shift to digital channels with what has always been the hallmark of credit unions: building and nurturing strong member relationships?

Colleen: Offering as many digital channels as we can to our members is a huge priority for us. We must really look at the return on the investment when investing in technology. As a member service driven financial, we also prioritize training for our staff to be there for our members as they use it. Goodness knows there is nothing worse than something not working right and no one can help! Members have no trouble getting in touch with us if they have questions. 

Chris: We must stay convenient and relative with our members and adapt along with evolving technology. We continue to provide the personal service as always, but as new members join, we must develop digital channels. As Colleen said, our digital initiatives provide a positive ROI back to the membership.  

Q: Cybersecurity isn’t just a buzzword. The threats – to business operations and proprietary member information – are real. As a credit union leader, how do you combat them? And, what keeps you up at night?

Colleen: As proactive and prepared as we are in this area, you never know where the hole could be with an attack on our systems we use. Having cybersecurity insurance coverage helps me sleep at night! I strongly suggest all credit unions have coverage and engage in NCUA’s cybersecurity assessment tool. You do not have to be an expert in this area, but you need to work with those that are.

Chris: Providing our members and employees a safe and secure financial institution keeps me up at night, too. The cybercriminals have all the resources and time they need, so we must anticipate that a s some point, we will become a target.  We must do our best to stay a step ahead and keep the trust that our members have instilled in us. Training, teaching, planning and sharing is what we do.    

Q; Consolidation is happening across the financial industry. Can you share your view on how being ‘small’ allows you best serve your members?

Colleen: We pride ourselves on knowing our members and the trust they have to reach out to us when they need to. They know they are more than just a number to us, and we know them by name and often times, their financial situation. Bigger financial firms may offer better loan rates at times, but our members are willing to come to us for the best service. 

Chris: We want a partnership with every member which makes a much deeper relationship.  We look out for each other.  If our members are successful, we will be successful. We strive for a family atmosphere. Taking time with every member cannot be done at the larger institutions. We don’t have all the other divisions, products, shareholders and distractions that can affect the big institutions that get in the way.  We are laser-focused on providing a great member experience and giving them the best service possible.  

Q: At CUNA Mutual Group, we believe that our people are our greatest asset. How do your employees exemplify the “credit union difference.”

Colleen: Our staff knows who their real bosses are: our members! With each interaction or each decision, they make sure they are ready and willing to help our members in any way they can.

Chris: The diversified team has each others’ backs.  We go out of our way to help each other and truly enjoy serving the members.  They love each other, love what they do and they love our members.  

Q: Anything else you’d like to share with your CU colleagues as to why they should attend Discovery Conference 2018?

Colleen: Credit unions have members, and banks have customers. Competition in the financial space is fierce, so find and do what you do well and celebrate the “Credit Union Difference”.  

Chris: The credit union industry believes in helping others and sharing.  We all owe it to ourselves to collaborate for the ultimate benefit of our members.

Discovery Conference is August 16, 2018. Register now for our complimentary, online event!