Posted by Vicky Salkeld, Assistant Vice President, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 7/28/2014

‘Tis the season! No, not the holiday season – yet! ‘Tis the strategic planning season! The third and fourth quarters have historically been the most popular time of year for credit unions conducting their strategic planning sessions. As your credit union prepares for this important event, there is much data to be compiled and reviewed.

One of strategic planning tools available to credit unions is the Environmental Scan, prepared by the Credit Union National Association. The Environmental Scan is used to anticipate and explore trends that can affect credit unions’ plans. Here is a brief summary of the Top 10 Trends as identified in the newly released 2014-2015 edition.

  1. Mobile payments – Mobile payments by smartphone users jumped 150% from 2012 to 2013. Mobile payments are growing by 68% annually, from $16 billion in 2010 to a projected $214 billion by 2015. To remain the center of members’ financial lives, credit unions must increase member loyalty by giving them the ability to conduct any transaction – on any channel – at the speed they expect.


  1. Mobile banking – With more than one million interactions each day, mobile now dominates all channels of customer engagement. Consumers want and expect to access their financial products and services from handheld devices with ease, reliability and speed. Given current trends, mobile devices will soon surpass personal computers as the most common tool used to access the internet.


  1. EMV Card Standard – October 1, 2015 is fast approaching. This is the date when liability for fraudulent transactions will shift to the party with the least secure form of EMV – Europay, MasterCard and Visa – technology. Chip technology greatly reduces a criminal’s ability to use stolen payment card data by introducing dynamic values for each transaction. Even if payment card data is compromised, a counterfeit card would be unusable at the point of sale (POS) without the presence of the card’s unique elements. While EMV won’t prevent all fraud, it will greatly decrease card duplication fraud.


  1. Stronger Lending – Credit union lending is expected to grow 7.5% in 2014 and 8% in 2015 as credit unions expect a rebound in loan originations. These are the strongest growth rates since 2007 and will be very welcome as credit unions have struggled with loan growth for more than a few years.


  1. Key Operating Ratios – Credit unions‘ return on assets are expected to rise slightly from 0.77% in 2013 to 0.8% in 2014 and 0.85% in 2015. Improved loan growth will shift assets from lower yielding investments into higher yielding loans. This will push asset yields above the record low of 3.4% set in 2013. Operating expenses will continue their long-term downward trend, aided by the absence of corporate stabilization assessments.


  1. Life After Mortgage Refis – The mortgage refinancing boom has ended. Credit unions are now focusing on purchase mortgages. Another opportunity in the mortgage market will be home equity lending. Many real estate markets have rebounded and home values are approaching 2007 levels. This will provide the opportunity for home equity loans to make a comeback.


  1. Lower Fee Income – Fee income as a percent of average assets will continue its six-year decline as the economic recovery exerts a downward influence on penalty fees. The decline in mortgage refinances and the fees derived from these loans will play a part in the decline. Insufficient funds, overdrafts and courtesy pay fees from checking accounts, which have long been the largest source of fee income for credit unions, are expected to decline as members’ financial conditions improve.


  1. Interest Rate Risk – NCUA states that “interest rate risk is the most significant risk the credit union industry faces right now.” Expect examiners to ask more pointed questions this year about your credit union’s interest-rate risk program.


  1. Recruitment and Retention – Multiple surveys of human resource executives all point to the same finding – retaining top performers will be one of the most important and difficult challenges facing HR executives in the next decade. This comes during the same time period when the credit union industry is expecting a record number of CEO retirements.


  1. Big Data – Analyze your members’ use of your delivery channels. This will help your credit union understand how members currently access your products and services and how they will want to in the future. The challenge is to build bridges between the various systems to create a more member-friendly experience.

The credit union and financial industries are more complex than ever. Increased regulatory compliance requirements, ever-expanding technology options, non-traditional competition and economic consequences are among the many challenges credit unions face. As you prepare for your strategic planning session, utilize every available resource. Your credit union’s future depends on it!



Categories: Strategic Planning & Consulting
Posted by Mr. Doug Foister, Director of Research, Cornerstone Credit Union League on 7/25/2014

I once carried out an interesting research project: I examined sports coverage in the New York Times over a long period of time to see how America’s interest for sports had evolved historically. The results? Among other things, baseball was confirmed as the undisputed king from the 1920’s through the 1940’s, with boxing also being very popular. In the 1950’s and 1960’s, column space began to increase notably for football and basketball. Then, a few decades later, coverage of auto racing and soccer increased markedly.

A similar “content analysis” of Filene Research reports from the early 1990’s through the present helps us to understand how the needs and concerns of credit unions have changed over the past several decades. The results are interesting and informative.

In the early to mid-1990’s, Filene titles reflected concerns such as Field of Membership – An Evolving Concept (1991); Implementing a Private-Federal Deposit Insurance Partnership (1993); and Strategic Opportunities in Serving Low to Moderate Income Individuals (1995).

By the latter half of the 1990’s, we see the advent of a topic that remains vital to credit unions today – technology.  For example, 1997 and 1998 saw the publication of The Digital Revolution: Delivering Financial Services in the Future and Technology Strategies of Best Practice Credit Unions. During this period, we also witness a continuation of studies on improving members’ financial well-being. This is manifested in reports such as, Credit Unions and Asset Accumulation by Lower-Income Households (1999) and Fresh Approaches to Bankruptcy and Financial Distress (2000).

Here’s a sampling of Filene reports from 2002 to the present. Note the historical progression.

  • Small Business: The New Frontier (2002)
  • 15 Steps to an Effective SEG Program (2002)
  • Serving New Americans: A Strategic Opportunity for Credit Unions (2003)
  • La Oportunidad (2006)
  • Deposit Growth in a Changing Interest Rate Environment (2007)
  • Credit Unions and Social Media: Engaging Young Adults (2008)
  • The Credit Union Brand: What Is It Good For? (2008)
  • U.S. Latino Families, Heads of Households, and the Elderly (2009)
  • Finding Sustainable Profits: Green Lending in Credit Unions (2011)
  • Credit Union Digital Branding Colloquium (2012)
  • Online and Mobile Channels: Strategies of High Performing Credit Unions (2013)
  • Big Data and Credit Unions (2013)
  • Regulatory Burden and Its Effect on Credit Unions (2014)
  • Leveraging Personal Interventions to Help Members (2014)

The complete list of Filene Research reports ( is extensive and very impressive. I have included the above titles because I believe they provide a representative roadmap showing which issues have emerged at particular times, and how some topics, such as helping members and dealing with technology, have proved to be thematic over the years.  

Categories: Research
Posted by Emily Maxie, Marketing Director, SIGNiX, Inc. on 7/24/2014

credit union esignatureAttention Credit Unions: Are your employees engaged and satisfied with their jobs? The answer might be more important than you think! Actively engaged employees are 43% more productive than those that are disengaged or dissatisfied.1

But the sad truth is that most office employees aren’t engaged at work. In fact, a recent study showed that a shocking 70% of employees are either not engaged or disengaged at work.2

Of course there is no quick fix for employee engagement, but you might be surprised to hear that going paperless could have a significant impact on your employee engagement.


Paper Causes Frustration

Think about it… During their free time, your employees are used to managing their lives digitally. They have instant access to any information they need, from their child’s daycare hours to information about their finances.

It’s easy to see why employees would be frustrated when they transition from the digital world of their personal lives to the paper world when they come to work. It can be frustrating for employees to use paper files and processes when they know from their personal lives that there’s an easier way to manage data.

Paper files are difficult to find and manage, and they can easily become outdated or inaccurate. Relying on handwritten signatures to close business means you need employees who are dedicated to keeping the paper flowing smoothly. If you can’t keep these processes under control, you risk losing business or even losing members. 

Just think about the time and energy your employees spend doing these tasks:

  • Mailing documents out to be signed
  • Chasing down forgetful signers
  • Resending documents to members that misplaced documents or never received them
  • Opening envelopes when documents are returned
  • Reviewing documents to make sure all the signature and initial fields are filled out
  • Checking that all required information has been filled in
  • Assigning document ID numbers to paperwork
  • Filing completed documents
  • Scanning paper documents for electronic storage
  • Re-keying information from a signed paper form back into an electronic system

Today, most forms can be easily filled out on a computer, but then members must print them out and sign them on paper. These documents then need to be re-scanned and emailed, faxed or sent by snail mail back to the credit union that sent them. And your employees have to take up the slack by confirming signatures, re-keying information and scanning or filing the finished documents.

“We lost loans that could have been easily closed if we had SIGNiX’s digital signature service sooner,” says Alicia Alvarez of Alamo Federal Credit Union, remembering their paper process before using e-signatures. “We tried faxing paperwork over and having them fax signed documents back to us, but the process was still exasperating.”

Boosting Engagement with E-Signatures

Credit unions that adopt e-signatures quickly see an increase in employee engagement. E-signature solutions like SIGNiX take on all of the tasks typically performed by a group of employees. With this software, employees can easily perform all of these tasks in minutes instead of days or weeks:

  • Send out documents for signature to multiple parties
  • Track documents through the signing process
  • Send forgetful signers a reminder email (SIGNiX sends out reminder emails automatically every 3, 5, 7 and 9 days)
  • Prove each signer’s identity
  • Ensure that all mandatory fields are completed
  • Collect electronic copies of forms

By adopting e-signatures, you can give your employees the freedom to spend more time focusing on critical aspects of their work instead of just moving paper. This doesn’t just mean more employee engagement, but it can also mean more business for your credit union.

“E-signatures are an integral component of a much bigger strategy that we will continue to expand on in the future,” says SIGNiX customer John Hays of Access Community Credit Union. “If we spend less time closing loans, then we should have more time to go out and get new borrowers.”


ROI of Digital Signatures Worksheet


1. Engage Employees and Boost Performance, Hay Group
2. Gallup Business Journal

Categories: Business Partners, Remote Transaction, Sales & Service, Technology Consulting & Compliance
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