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CEO Summit: Discussions Identify Key Areas of Credit Union Strategy

To succeed in today’s fast-paced, changing world, it’s imperative that your credit union has a solid overall strategy; one that can adapt and change with the times.

   David Polet opens a discussion at CEO Summit. 

On July 9-10, 2013, the Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) held its CEO Summit to address the cumbersome topic of strategy. Unlike the traditional conference structure, this two-day event included open dialogue sessions and interactive group projects.

CEO Summit is about collaboration and strategizing for credit unions. This event worked to find solutions to the challenges credit unions are facing today.

Held at Camden on the Lake, CEO Summit invited credit union leadership, such as chief operation officers and chief executive officers. Also in attendance were the people responsible for setting and implementing their credit union’s strategic goals.

"The itinerary was flexible enough to allow the group to spend time on topics relevant to today’s market," said Scott Shults, president of Rolla Federal Credit Union. "Overall it was a very positive experience." 

David Polet, director of Voice of Customer for CUNA Mutual Group (CMG), facilitated the dialogue and work groups. Using his experience in facilitating CMG’s fourteen advisory groups, David shared the current trends in demographics, lending, operations and the economy. Attendees were encouraged to share their ideas and trends they are seeing in their markets.

"This year's event really motivated me to meet with senior management and open up that discussion on our credit union's strategy," says attendee Carol White, CEO of Central Missouri Community Credit Union. "David provided a lot of data and statistics that I can bring back to my management team. We can use these tools to look forward and plan for the future." 

In just the first two hours, attendees dove into topics such as areas of impending growth, what areas to focus on for growth, and how to implement these strategies. They also dug into membership growth strategy. This brought about several very straightforward questions such—why do members close accounts? Are credit unions conducting research  on why members close accounts? How do credit unions retain current members? 

Attendees get hands-on with identifying brand themes key to positioning credit unions in the marketplace. 

One discussion topic covered positioning credit unions in the marketplace. During this topic, attendees talked about the brand themes that credit unions might employ in their strategies. Brand themes discussed included integrity, choices, flexibility, price leader, convenience, overall value, trusted advisor, smart money and customer/member advocacy. This was an interactive session that not only asked attendees to weigh in, but to also assist in identifying the emerging brand themes. Another session highlighted the obstacles that many credit unions face. Some of the major obstacles included regulatory compliance and culture for both staff and board. For example, staying on top of the ever-changing world of compliance can be tricky, so setting ways to handle these changes are important to credit unions—big and small.

Further into the discussion, initiatives were discussed on how to handle some of these obstacles. These included new product development, refining communications and marketing, and implementing focused training for employees and credit union leadership. Also, setting realistic goals were identified as solid ways to overcome these challenges. Goals covered included capital growth, loan growth, branch expansions and growing credit unions’ membership.

An interesting question that arose was whether credit unions require their board members to use the services of the credit union. What if the chairman of the board was at a business lunch discussing the benefits of credit union membership and then pays for the meal with a bank card? Little actions can affect the way that others perceive the credit union.  

This is a must-attend event for credit union leaders. It assists credit union leaders in getting to know one another and collaborating on the future of the credit union industry. Credit unions must work together to continue to grow and thrive—not just survive. With the 2014 planning sessions kicking off, make sure to add the CEO Summit to your professional development calendar to take full advantage of this must-attend conference.