Posts Tagged planning

Insights on Credit Union Innovation

Posted by on Tuesday, 29 November, 2011

Our friends at Credit Union Magazine featured an excellent article on their website today. The article—Think Outside the Cube by Libby Vertz—shares insights on innovation from Michael Spink, Communications Manager with Local Government Federal Credit Union and a Filene  i3 participant.

This Q&A piece deserves a quick read. It covers Michael’s thoughts on  i3 and the secret to being innovative.

Below is only a snippet from the article, so be sure to read the full article here.

Michael Spink, communications manager for Local Government FCU.

CU Mag: What’s one innovative effort taking place at Local Government Federal?

Spink: At Local Government Federal, we’re changing the way we think. We want to handle all our endeavors in innovative ways—from how we market products and go about operations to how we look at compliance and regulation.

It’s time to actually poke our heads out of the trench and really look at the bigger landscape. It’s a different world since we jumped into our foxholes a few years ago.

CU Mag: How will this benefit your CU and members?

Spink: It will make our credit union healthier and more efficient, and will increase the value to our members. We’ll also have a greater ability to respond to member needs more quickly.

On a grand scale, the benefit is a stronger credit union movement overall. The more we each honestly look at the new landscape, the more we’ll all learn about navigating within it.

What do you think… are credit unions too slow in implementing innovation and change? What’s your secret for being innovative?


Big Time Thursday: Discovery is Coming to the America’s Credit Union Conference! (Contest)

Posted by on Thursday, 5 May, 2011

From Christy LaMasney

Why is CUNA Mutual Group bringing our face-to-face Discovery sessions to the Credit Union National Association’s America’s Credit Union Conference and Expo in 2011?  Well, by collaborating, we are leveraging our collective strengths to create a truly diversified and educational experience.

The Discovery breakouts will cover a wide range of topics including marketing and membership, risk management strategies, lending and compliance, virtual banking, employee and employer issues and issues facing boards of directors.  There truly is something for everyone.

Over the four day conference key insights will come from a combination of industry thought leaders, outside consultants, CUNA Mutual staff and your credit union colleagues. Just a few highlights include:

Kelly McDonald

Social Media & Social Marketing: How to Use it to Grow presented by Kelly McDonald, McDonald Consulting.

Kelly is making a return appearance after a successful presentation at our Online Discovery Conference last November.  At ACUC she will focus on how social media tools fit in your marketing strategy.  Many credit unions are using social media, but how do you know it’s effective and relevant?  Kelly will cover social media marketing from A-Z.


Ann Davidson

Top Fraud Trends in 2011 – Is Your CU Prepared to Prevent Today’s Top Fraud Threats? presented by Ann Davidson, CUNA Mutual Group.

How much is fraud costing your credit union? The bad news is fraud is not going away. Are you prepared to defend against these top fraud threats, including cards, ACH, wires, mobile payments and more? During this session Ann will share the industry top fraud threats, criminal behavior, how to identify the weakest links and key defenses to prevent fraud. Keep criminals out of your credit union and away from your members!


Panel discussion

A View to the Future of Credit Unions with Gen Y presented by a Credit Union Panel: Ronaldo Hardy, LaCapitol FCU; Matt Vance, Industrial CU; Amy Stanton, Connex CU and Jen Shefner, Columbia CU.

How many of your employees are from Gen Y?  With numbers estimated as high as 70 million, if you haven’t hired them yet, you will soon!  How can you attract young professionals and shape them into future leaders of the credit union system? These four young credit union leaders will share how they are influencing their credit unions, and what they believe is needed to make credit unions more relevant to their generation.


George Hoffheimer

Under the Sheets: What’s Hidden in Your Financial Statements? presented by George Hofheimer, Filene Research Institute and Mike Higgins, Jr., Mike Higgins and Associates

Too often, strategic plans are put together with a pre-determined financial objective in place. Unfortunately, the tactics to reach an arbitrary ROA target can have unintended consequences. A strategic plan needs to be more thoughtful than that. It’s important that you study your credit union’s balance sheet mix and non-interest income production to understand how powerful, and sustainable its Net Revenue Engine is and where opportunities for improvement exist. Credit unions need a sound set of asset quality guidelines to make sure credit losses don’t deplete excessive amounts of capital. During this session, based on a forthcoming Filene Research study, George and Mike will walk you through the process and discuss the benefits for your particular situation.


Discovery CONTEST: We want to know: What are the credit union issues and opportunities keeping you up at night? What topics are you looking for more insight? Answer this question in a comment below and we’ll do a random drawing on May 12th of all commenters and give away 50% off the ACUC conference registration plus a copy of  Discovery speaker Kelly McDonald’s best selling book How to Market to People Not Like You, currently featured on Inc. Magazine’s Business Book Bestseller List.

UPDATE (05/12): This contest has ended – congratulations to our winner, David from The Golden 1 Credit Union. He won a  50% off the ACUC conference registration plus a copy of  Discovery speaker Kelly McDonald’s best selling book How to Market to People Not Like You, currently featured on Inc. Magazine’s Business Book Bestseller List. THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!

Christy LaMasney is the Communications Strategist, Discovery for CUNA Mutual Group.

CONTEST DETAILS: Contest begins today and ends on Wed., May 11th at 11:59PM (CT). No purchase necessary to win.  Make sure you leave an email address where you can be contacted.  The winner will be notified via e-mail and will also be announced on the blog.  Multiple comments are allowed as long as you have a valid idea in each comment. (No duplicate comments) The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants received.  Void where prohibited.

This competition is offered by Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and is open to anyone who comments on this post and is at least 18 years of age. Employees of CUNA and family members of such employees are not eligible to enter.

CUNA shall not have any liability for any malfunction of or damage to the prize. The award winner may be responsible for applicable state or federal taxes on the value of the contest prize.


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Big Time Thursday: Creating Magic at The ACUC in Texas! (Contest)

Posted by on Thursday, 31 March, 2011

ACUC Keynoter Doug Hall

From Ashley Fenrick:

A few months ago, when I began working on the marketing for America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC), I glanced through the keynote speaker biographies and one in particular stood out to me, Doug Hall. That’s because I remembered learning about him way back in college…ok I only graduated two years ago but still the fact that I remember him must mean something, right? He was discussed in my entrepreneurship class because well, Doug is pretty much an innovation and idea-generating genius!

He began his inventing career at the age of 12, inventing and selling a line of magic and juggling kits. After earning a chemical engineering degree, he joined Procter & Gamble where he quickly rose to the rank of Master Marketing Inventor. It doesn’t stop there – Doug is the founder and CEO of Eureka! Ranch, located in Cincinnati with offices in London, UK and Monterrey, Mexico.

Eureka! Ranch is a place where you can relax, reenergize and really take the time to think about your business and where it’s going. The eighty acre ranch includes a walking track, bicycles, a sand volleyball court, basketball hoops, a street hockey rink and even a lake for fishing, water skiing and tubing. Guests are encouraged to engage in all the activities they can bear and in between participate in various brainstorming and team sessions, where the ideas start flowing!

Want to learn more? Join us at ACUC, June 19-22, in San Antonio, TX, to hear Doug present his keynote session, Innovative Engineering: How to Innovate & Grow Your Credit Union.

In the meantime, here is a helpful guide for turning off filters and finding ideas from past ACUC speaker, Scott Berkun’s book The Myths of Innovation:
Four idea-finding (brainstorming) rules:
  1. Produce as many ideas as possible
    At this point you should focus on quantity, not quality. You won’t know which ideas have value until you really dig into them, so get as many ideas on the table as possible.
  2. Produce ideas as wild as possible
    Encourage participants to say whatever pops into their minds. Without this rule, we naturally constrain what we say for fear of embarrassment. Scott explains that if you set outrageousness as a goal and reward it, you’ll help turn that filter off.
  3. Build upon each other’s ideas
    No ideas are 100% new, they’re all combinations of other ideas. Making this clear prevents people from holding back for the fear of stepping on someone else’s toes.
  4. Avoid passing judgment
    Evaluation isn’t necessary during exploration. It’s too early in the game to understand the possibilities of new ideas, so why would you reject or accept any of them?

BIG TIME Thursday CONTEST: We want to know:  What are some of the things your credit union does to generate BIG ideas? Do you set aside time to discuss how to improve your products and processes? Answer one of those questions in a comment below and we’ll do a random drawing on April 7th (just in time to kick off our next Big Time Thursday contest) of all commenters to give away a copy of Doug Hall’s book Jump Start Your Brain and a magic kit to help spark your team’s next BIG idea.

Read more about BIG TIME Thursday Contests (there will be lots of great prizes through May 2011).

Ashley Fenrick is a Marketing Communications Specialist for the Credit Union National Association.

UPDATE (04/07): This contest has ended – congratulations to our winner, Amy Ackerman! Amy won a copy of Doug Hall’s book Jump Start Your Brain and a magic kit to help ignite her credit union’s next BIG idea. THANKS TO ALL WHO PARTICIPATED!

CONTEST DETAILS: Contest begins today and ends on Wed., April 6th at 11:59PM (ct). No purchase necessary to win.  Make sure you leave an email address where you can be contacted.  The winner will be notified via e-mail and will also be announced on the blog.  Multiple comments are allowed as long as you have a valid idea in each comment. (No duplicate comments) The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants received.  Void where prohibited.

This competition is offered by Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and is open to anyone who comments on this post and is at least 18 years of age. Employees of CUNA and family members of such employees are not eligible to enter.

CUNA shall not have any liability for any malfunction of or damage to the prize. The award winner may be responsible for applicable state or federal taxes on the value of the contest prize.

We Do Big Things: A Resource for Credit Union Planning Sessions

Posted by on Friday, 4 March, 2011

I can’t begin to tell you how great it makes me feel to work for CUNA.

Why?  One reason is because my department—CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance (CPF)—produces personal finance materials that credit unions trust to educate their members about important money matters.

And financial education is important to the credit union movement. Financial literacy efforts are part of the fabric which separates credit unions from other financial institutions. In fact, even American Bankers Association Senior Economist Keith Leggett gave a nod to credit union financial education efforts a few years ago.

So it does my heart some good to be a cog in the mighty credit union wheel.

Now, producing personal finance materials that credit unions can trust doesn’t happen overnight. Each year CPF holds several planning sessions to anticipate the needs of credit unions and the consumer-members they serve.

It’s been said, you can’t truly know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. So, at the end of the year CPF produces a year in review identifying our contributions to the credit union movement. It’s a wonderful tool that helps the department recognize what worked well and spark ideas to plan and research for the coming year.

Let me peel back the CUNAverse curtain and share the 2010 Center for Personal Finance Year in Review with you… see below. Perhaps your credit union or credit union organization can use this as an example for crafting something similar.

What does your organization do to help with planning for the upcoming year?

CUNA’s Center for Personal Finance Year in Review – 2010


  • CPF contributed to CUNA’s ongoing PR and outreach effortsHome & Family Finance Radio

Each week CUNA’s voice of authority in financial literacy reaches a wide national audience through Home &Family Finance Radio, a joint project under the direction of Washington D.C. staff …. The project entered a new phase with the development of a Home & Family Finance Radio player for credit union websites.

  • CPF staff expertise received outside recognition

Staff currently represent CUNA and the credit union movement on the boards Personal Finance Employee Education Foundation of the and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. In 2010, the following online and print publications tapped CPF for interviews and quotes:,, Parents Magazine, Daily Herald (an online suburban Chicago news outlet), Crain’s Detroit Business, and Parenting Magazine.  Also in 2010, NCUF-funded, CUNA-sponsored, and CPF-guided preschool financial literacy
research conducted in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison
was cited at an international child finance conference in Amsterdam.

  • CPF products, programs put the spotlight on credit unions

This year’s annual National Youth Saving Challenge resulted in 176,750 youth at 352 participating credit unionsputting $25,627,753 in existing and 10,631 new youth accounts. Participation in the Desjardins Youth Financial Education Award recognition program brought a record number of entries (56) from a record number of states (29). The Louisiana, California, and Illinois leagues hosted events showcasing CPF’s live group budgeting simulation Mad City Money, which also saw widespread use during Wisconsin’s MoneySmart Week, including all four of Madison’s high schools.

  • CPF partnership initiatives reached new markets

CUNA’s relationship with Coopera Consulting was strengthened by a number of
CPF joint projects, including editorial oversight of the Spanish language website El Poder Es Tuyo and the production of a basic money management seminar and four instructional videos in Spanish. CPF also brought Cabot Creamery Cooperative into a partnership with the New York Credit Union League that led to the licensing of content for a youth activity booklet about maintaining health and wealth. A new partnership with the Direct Selling Association and the Direct Selling Education Foundation resulted in a deal to license an online money management course.

Service to credit unions and members

  • New CPF products addressed new challenges and opportunities

The launch of the Money Mission, a joint collaboration between CUNA
and the Wisconsin Credit Union league gave CPF entry into the world of online educational gaming. With the launch of El Poder Es Tuyo, CPF expanded its support of CUNA’s Hispanic Initiative while garnering an award from the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators for quality of text and design, effectiveness of message, accuracy and usefulness of information,
creativity, value to the community, needed changes and program results.

  • CPF improvements kept existing products fresh and relevant

A redesign of CPF’s online editorial service Copy & Art Express improved the 12-year-old product’s ability to deliver articles, ads, and images, allowing subscribers to beef up their newsletters and web sites and, in one case, produce a 16-page informational booklet. All told, the department’s suite of onlineEDGE products combined generated an estimated 45 million page views from 850,000 visitors to the websites of 1,223 subscribing credit unions during 2010.

  • CPF responded to consumer news and changes in federal regulation

A spate of news stories about investment and other schemes targeting seniors prompted the production of a series of articles and brochures alerting credit union members to the threat and how to protect against it. Guides to Independence added two new credit card courses that reflect consumer changes wrought by the Credit CARD Act of 2009.


CUNA Volunteer Network 101

Posted by on Wednesday, 2 March, 2011

This past week, CUNA launched a new membership opportunity for credit union board and committee members.  I was fortunate to be working with this network for the past months as it was developed, but CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) attendees had the opportunity to see the members-only website as its launch was celebrated on Sunday night in the exhibit hall.

Kevin Smith, CUNA Instructional Design Manager

I took some time to sit down with Kevin Smith, CUNA Instructional Design Manager, who worked with developing and launching the membership to get his perspective on its usefulness and value for credit unions.  Read on to find out what he had to say as he prepared for the launch last week.

What inspired the creation of the CUNA Volunteer Network?

The job of credit union directors is getting increasingly complex, more demanding of time and attention, as well as requiring more expertise. It’s incumbent upon CUNA to provide products and services  to help directors keep up  with demand and to do their jobs effectively and efficiently. We see that directors get a great value from networking opportunities at our schools and conferences.  However, networking is challenging for them to continue outside of a conference environment. We also hear from directors who are traveling to conferences less often for a variety of reasons and they want a way to stay connected. There are a surprising number of directors at conference events using cutting-edge technology to try to keep up with everything (iPhones, laptops, Blackberries, etc.).

This all suggests that volunteers are very busy and need a community of resources to help them excel in their roles as directors.  Therefore, the CUNA Volunteer Network was “born” out of the necessity for board and committee members to keep up with credit union issues and connected with each other.

Is the CUNA Volunteer Network fulfilling a need that CUNA identified or was it driven by members?

CUNA identified a number of trends that inspired the idea of a network of volunteers.  Through focus groups of credit union volunteers, we fine-tuned the specifics of how that network would be delivered and what it would include to provide value.  We make a concerted effort to pay close attention to our directors to ensure we give them the tools they need, so this membership is an example of just that.

Due to recent regulatory changes affecting board members, CUNA sees the need for volunteers to stay up-to-date and connected becoming even more important given the additional expectations being placed on board members.  Volunteers are looking for more online resources, so a membership-based website was very well received by our focus groups and we thank them for their input.

What have you found is the most attractive value to credit unions to want to join?

By far the access to leading industry training, tools and peer advice anytime and from anywhere has been a big interest point for credit unions.  Specifically, the list serve, 20 online training courses, and Director’s Newsletter have been getting a lot of interest because of the value on a variety of potential topics each provides.

How are membership benefits different than the benefits of being a member of CUNA?

You have to be a volunteer or CEO of a CUNA and league-affiliated credit union to be a member of the CUNA Volunteer Network. The network provides opportunities that are focused specifically on the roles of credit union board and supervisory committee members. The membership benefits include additional discounts and access to tools and information CUNA offers, plus some exclusive options for just the CUNA Volunteer Network members at an affordable value.  Basically, if a board or board member takes advantage of even half of the tools available to them through the network, they’ve more than paid for their membership and it’s all served up on an easy-to-use and access website.

Learn more about the network at

Getting Butts in Seats: What Does CUNA Look for in a Meeting Destination?

Posted by on Monday, 17 May, 2010

From Rachel Best:

Rachel Best

Hi, I’m Rachel.  I’m a Meeting Manager at CUNA and I handle logistics like A/V and hotel rooms for some of our educational conferences.  I love my job because I love credit union people.

Additionally, meeting planning is the only field I found where my rampant color coding and slight OCD-tendencies seem to be good qualities rather than pesky roadblocks to getting work done.  Perhaps I could have been an accountant…but then I wouldn’t get to find these great places for credit union staff to learn and enjoy.

So, why was that one meeting held in San Diego?  Why is nothing ever scheduled for New York City; that seems like a fun place to visit!?  Well, here’s a snapshot of our logic when choosing cities for our schools and conferences.

1) Price/Value
Our first consideration is price or value of the hotel.  Since our attendees are employees of not-for-profits, it’s not terribly often that travel to an educational conference would be approved if the room rate was over $300.  I aim to find properties that are willing to negotiate rates around $180 to $200 a night or less.  We can’t base our selection on pure price alone.  Sure I could get you a great rate of $89 per night at a No-Tell Hotel, but what’s the condition of the room?  What about the meeting space?

Also, sometimes it’s worth it to go to a location even though it’s on the high end of our range.  For example, if we can get a Four Seasons Hotel (very, very nice – they polish your shoes every night if you want – for free!!!), for the rate of $220, that’s a GREAT deal, because you’ll be getting a one-of-a-kind experience that would usually go for over $400.  And we are guaranteed great service at this type of high-end property.

This is why it’s very difficult to go to New York City; it’s just plum expensive.  They get enough tourists and other for-profit organizations that they don’t need to lower their prices.  Except in the dead of winter…and even then it’s still pretty expensive.

Most of the time though, we are able to hold our meetings at great hotels for a decent rate.  Although in this economy…we’ve been able to get some really good deals as well.  Hotels are hurting for business and I don’t mind leveraging that fact in negotiations if it benefits our members.

2) Distance from Airport
Nobody wants to go through the hassle of flying for 3 hours, only to have to sit in a shuttle or cab for 45 minutes.  Much less pay for it – gee whiz!  So we try to select hotels and cities that are within a 25-minute drive between the airport and the hotel.  San Diego and Las Vegas work great for this.

3) Walking Distance to Attractions
For the same reasons as the above, who has the money to pay for taxis every night to go to dinner?  I look for hotels that are within walking distance of both fast-food and, sit-down dining, as well as bars and/night clubs.  Ideally, a tourist attraction (like the beach or a mall) would be within walking distance as well.

That’s  why we often pick hotels that are located in cities that have a thriving downtown area, and in cities where it’s safe for people to be walking about at night. Denver is awesome for this!

There are many other factors that go into site selection, but these are what I consider to be the most vital when it comes to locations for our educational conferences.

Rachel Best is the Meetings and Exhibits Manager for the Credit Union National Association.