Field of Membership to Big Data: What’s Been Important to Credit Unions
Posted by Mr. Doug Foister, Vice President 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
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