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July 16, 2014

I don't know where you are...but I know where you AREN'T.

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by Ron Daly

I don't have spy satellites. I don't have access to your GPS. I'm not the NSA, nor am I Google, nor am I any other intelligence gathering agency, public or private.

I don't know where you are...but I know where you aren't.

The other day, an email campaign was sent from our marketing team to a group of subscribers in my name. Naturally, I got all of the "out of office" replies. In came a flood of three hundred emails from people who were anywhere but near their computer.

As I sat there, my eyes spinning from all the out-of-offices, I wondered how much I could learn from all the information contained therein. Naturally, I know these people aren't in the office (or don't know how to turn off their automatic reply). But what else can I learn?

  • I can learn when these out-of-officers are supposed to be back in the office, in most cases. (Ex: "I will be out until July 18, 2014.")

  • I can learn who their nearest counterpart is. ("If you need anything in the meantime, please contact Trish Fisherwisher, at tfisherwisher@example.email.")

  • If I take a step back and look at the frequency of OOO replies for a weekly email, I can get an idea of when the average credit union employee is on vacation.

  • I know the addresses I have are active and working.

Those are three interesting pieces of information in my line of work. The campaign we sent wasn't time or info sensitive, but let's say I want to be sure that everyone gets a look at it. I know these addresses are good, I know when these people will be back in the office and I know who else to reach out to if it is something time-sensitive. All I really need to do is take a few minutes, mark the recipients in the list that are out of office and get back to them in a few weeks when they're back at work. Why not take this limited-but-useful data and do something with it?

I look forward to your opinions on this...in a few weeks, when you get back from the beach.

June 17, 2014

There Are No "Quiet Exits" in the Payment Game

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by Ron Daly

By now, you've likely heard the news that the Approved Card, the prepaid financial product promoted by none other than Suze Orman, is shutting down. You probably remember a few years ago when much ruckus was raised over Orman's endorsement of this high-fee product.  Now, Orman is seeking to exit the payment space "quietly", according to the New York Times.

Trouble is, there's no such thing as a "quiet exit" in this space. Who would expect silence after such a loud and hotly-debated entrance? Suze claimed her card would be the beginning of a revolution. 

From The Daily Beast

Even so, the Money Navigator flap was a minor blip compared to the storm Orman ignited in January 2012. That’s when, declaring a “financial revolution,” she launched the Approved Card, a prepaid debit card backed by the Bancorp Bank, the top issuer of prepaid cards in the U.S. “You can always bank on me,” Orman announced during the accompanying promotional blitz.

Well, it would appear the revolution has come to a bitter end. And as far as "always banking" on Orman? That's officially false as of July 1, when the cards will stop working. As for all the critics Suze called "idiots" and publicly shamed for questioning her judgement, I imagine they feel vindicated when they read these words in the New York Times

It is unclear exactly why Ms. Orman’s venture is ending. A spokesman for Bancorp Bank, which ran the back-end systems for Approved, declined to comment, citing a policy of not making statements about its partners. Ms. Orman could not be reached for comment. The website for the card does not appear to have been updated recently, and as of Monday night, had no mention of the card’s status.

If that wasn't enough, my attempts at reaching the Approved Card website turned up an error page. Seems as though someone doesn't want to say anything...which says a lot.

I'm not trying to diminish Ms. Orman's record as a financial adviser; many people adore her and trust her advice implicitly. But I imagine she's going to have a heck of a time explaining what went wrong with the Approved Card to its now-unbanked users...if she bothers explaining at all.

There are no "quiet exits" in the game of payment and finance. If you don't want to do the talking, don't worry - the consumers will do it for you. 

June 09, 2014

Hole in Boat, Version 1.30.19 (Beta)

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by Ron Daly

I'm no Brother Grimm or Mother Goose or any other storyteller by trade, but I do have a little fable I'd love to share. It's about a group of bankers (or "credit-unioneers", in this case) that were sailing a large boat down a river.

The crew all worked very well together, but one day the first mate noticed something was out of the ordinary. For some reason, the ship was lower in the water than it had been the day before. The first mate called the rest of the crew together.

"We've got a problem," he said. "For some reason, the ship is lower in the water than it was a day ago..."

"Nonsense!" cried the helmsman. "This ship is sailing as high and fast as it ever was."

"I don't know...I think we should check for any holes in the boat."

After several hours of deliberation, the crew split up, searched the ship and found the hole. They reconvened on the deck. 

"Well, we need to plug the hole," said the first mate.

"Now, now, let's not get in a big hurry here...that's going to take a lot of time and energy. Do we have what it takes?" said the watchman.

"Yeah, and who's going to pay for all this?" said the helmsman.

"You know, I'm not entirely convinced this is that big of a problem. That hole's been there, what, one whole day and we still haven't sunk?" said the Captain.

The first mate was frustrated. He stomped his feet and huffed and puffed, insisting they had to act on the problem immediately. Finally, he got the crew to (reluctantly) agree to work on the issue. After a few hours of cobbling, they came up with a giant wad of chewing gum. When the gum gave way, they put their heads together yet again and came up with a big bag of corks to plug the hole. When the corks proved too loose, they settled on a broken barrel. They patched up the hole with several planks from the barrel which stopped the water from coming in and grew and shrunk with the other wood on the boat. 

As the crew observed their handy-work and congratulated themselves on a job well done, they noticed something very strange was happening. The sound of loud, rushing water echoed inside the hull. The crew cautiously peeked out of the porthole window and saw a large, rushing waterfall - and noticed they were only seconds away from the edge. With everyone's resources devoted to fixing the hole, there was no navigation, no steering, no planning, no nothing...

And then the ship went over the waterfall.

The End

I 'm pretty sure you get the point. Plugging one "hole" with any given technology only solves that problem. If there's no strategy for electronic users and mobile members, you're going over the falls. Arguing internally about whether or not technological steps forward can be taken or should be taken? That's quibbling. The question that should always be asked: "will this step forward be a step forward for members, too?"

I'll be conducting a webinar on Wednesday, June 11 at 2pm ET in conjunction with CUES. It's called:

Is Your Largest Branch Open for Business?
“eStrategy” for Today’s Financial Institutions

Won't you join us? We'll be talking about all the ways credit unions can enhance their electronic strategy and keep the ship sailing for years to come. Sign up today as a CUES member or register as a guest - the webinar is open to all. I hope to see you there.

May 20, 2014

Blue, Navy Blue

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by Ron Daly

I saw a story on today's CU Watercooler titled "World's Largest Credit Union is Getting Bigger". It would seem that Navy Federal, the biggest dog in the credit union pack, is expanding its reach by another 60 branches nationwide.

From the article:

To keep up with growing membership, which has risen 25 percent since 2012, the credit union is opening 60 new branches across the country by 2016.

And: 

This month, the credit union opened its first “technology concept branch” in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard, marking its 32nd area location.

Yowza. That's a lot of branches, especially when you consider that many banks (and some CU's) are closing branches by the dozen. I did a quick Google search for how many CU's had closed in Q1 of 2014 but didn't find much info. Banks closed 281 branches in Q1, roughing out to about three branches closed every day for three months.

Navy FCU is growing while other institutions are receding. They have the money, the members, and the momentum. I'm sure for a few CU's out there, it might seem like this level of service and growth is unattainable. It might make you feel blue...Navy blue. As blue as you can be.

Don't be! You shouldn't think of your credit union as standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Navy. With $58 billion in assets and this rate of growth, they're by far the largest CU in the world. The average CU has $149 million in assets and typically doesn't serve a group as large in scope as the Department of Defense, all Military branches and their respective families. It's apples and oranges. 

But there are ways of offering Navy Federal-level service to your members. Take a look at this passage from the Washington Post article above:

Instead of traditional teller lines, the 3,300-square-foot [technology concept branch] offers a more interactive experience [...] There are iPads and smartphones on hand to show members how to use the credit union’s mobile apps to make deposits, transfer money and check balances. A kids’ area includes electronic games about financial literacy.

The credit union’s newest members are typically between the ages of 18 and 34, Romano said, adding that they are interested in learning how to use new banking technology.

“When you join, we want to show you all of the different capabilities we have,” Romano said. “It’s sort of like when you buy a car and the [salesman] drives it around the neighborhood and shows you all the features.”

What a stellar idea! Show members first-hand how convenient your virtual branch - the branch you can keep growing, with no regard for real estate prices - really is. Offer them iPads and electronic doo-dads they can play with right there, in the branch, to see how easy they are to use. Give kids games they can play that show the value of the credit union's work. Show people how to use RDC, Online Banking, eStatements...everything. Give them a really good test drive and they'll be much happier.

If you don't have the people-power to get all this done in the first visit, consider using email to fill the gap. Make this discovery process part of the onboarding campaign. Do a great job of educating members on how well the virtual branch works and they won't have to beg you to open 60 new branches...they'll be satisfied with what you've got.

The world of credit union technology is often one of "Me, Too's." You don't have to outspend Navy Federal on branches and advertising to win new members or to keep your current members around. Often, it's as simple as showing them that membership with another CU (or being a customer at a bank) would be very much the same...except for the level of service and care your credit union is willing to provide. Technology gives you a level playing field. Good service gives you an advantage. That's true whether you have three branches or three hundred and ten.

April 18, 2014

Love, e-Merican Style!

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by Ron Daly

Loveemerican

Ahh, love. There's nothing like it in the world. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy goes online to find a new girl, boy meets girl online, boy marries girl online, boy decides it was a doomed relationship from the start and gets divorced online...

Tale as old as time.

"BUT WAIT!" you cry, "You can't get married online, and you certainly can't get divorced online."

Well, I'm here to prove you wrong. Welcome to: 

LOVE, e-MERICAN STYLE! (You can write your own fancy theme music in your head.)

Americans are living their lives online, there's no two ways about it. It takes a certain degree of Internet obsession not only to date online (through eHarmony, Match.com, or any of the dating apps out there), but to get married online. 

There are only a few states in which you can be legally married online, but the posibility exists. A little money, a little wi-fi, an officiant and a Skype-kiss and bing bang boom...you're married. Typically this happens for religious reasons or for troops stationed overseas, but imagine what will happen when the e-Dating set gets hold of this idea. No muss, no fuss, and a heck of a lot cheaper than an actual wedding? It's a great idea. And all your registries can be on Amazon...

So you already took the plunge and it's five years later. The bloom is off the rose. Your once fiery passion you celebrated over the glow of your iPhone has fizzled. What do you do? Well, you already got an online marriage...maybe you need an online divorce.

WeVorce is a San Francisco-based startup that focuses on speeding unhappy couples through the divorce process. Run by a divorced husband/wife couple (no, this isn't The Onion, this is a real company), the goal is to save couples time, money, and the acrimony that often comes with a drawn-out court battle. 

"The average cost of a divorce in this country is $27,000. The average cost of Wevorce is $10,000," according to [Michelle] Crosby[, Founder and CEO]."

WeVorce is already helping couples who are seeking to separate. If Crosby's math is correct and a couple really does get divorced every thirteen seconds in this country, the company will surely see a steady stream of clients in the future.

Tie the Knot? Cut the Knot? Why Not?

I know I'm poking fun, but let me play Devil's Advocate here for just a minute. Let's say you really do want to get married online. If you have witnesses on either end and live where a wedding of that nature can happen, why not? Let's say you want to get divorced but you don't have a ton of money and you don't want to make it a huge production that upsets your family more than needed. Well, why not?

Why not just make it happen online?

It's the drum I've been beating for fourteen years now. If you can make things more efficient and less painful through digital means,  why wouldn't you? Sure, a big, fancy wedding is more fun than an online wedding. But if it's not practical or you don't really want it, why not go online? If you just want to break up and go on with your lives, why not use an online divorce service? If you want to do your banking simply or examine your finances or save your important files, why not use eServices to get it all done?

It's only when we accept that we don't have to have physical contact for these things that we start to overcome our sentimental attachment to the excess associated with them. We get more done and move on with our lives. And that, my friends, is...

LOVE, e-MERICAN STYLE!

April 08, 2014

From Now On, I'm Paying for Everything with Snow Tires.

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by Ron Daly

I was browsing through creditunions.com when I came across this story about a young man (or woman?) who is using GameStop as his bank. He buys video games in advance of their release with his paycheck, sells back the hold credit when he needs cash, and keeps the cycle going. GameStop holds his money, gives a little back, and affords him all the benefits of membership, including "exclusive content". 

I'm not a video gamer, so all the "pre-order" and "exclusive content" talk doesn't mean much to me. But I get what he's going for, and I love it! Gee, why didn't I consider that before now? I'm getting in on the action. I want to buy a few things on order and just hang on to them until I need their cash equivalent. Let's see, what's something I wouldn't mind having around the house or garage?

I got it! Snow tires!

It's the perfect scheme. I'm going to buy a few dozen sets of snow tires, pile them up in the garage, and return them to the manufacturer in mint condition when I'm short on cash! Who doesn't want a set of snow tires? They're so useful...when it's snowing, that is. And when it's not snowing, just put plants and stuff in them, I guess.

See? Why would anyone want to do business with a dumb old credit union or bank when we could just buy expensive things to establish an "account" with a store and then return them when we need...you know, real money.

Holy smokes...I think I just figured out how to make this thing even more simple. I'm just going to pay for things in snow tires! Naturally, everyone will accept snow tires. They'll have to invent new ATMs that dispense snow tires! The value depreciates a bit in the summer, but come the first blizzard this winter I'll be a rich man!

...Oh, wait, never mind. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard.

We invented money because bartering is too hard. We invented deposit accounts so that your flimsy money had a place to stay safe, outside your home and not on your person. We invented deposit insurance to hedge our bets and to ensure that people's money would be safe. We invented ATMs so you could get the money quickly and debit so you didn't have to use cash and chip-and-PIN so you didn't have to worry about swiping away your identity. We keep improving this system by adding both security and convenience. Sure, you can quibble about inflation and bitcoin and Tetris and Mario, but we've got a good thing going here. Why would anyone opt-out?

The article I mentioned above outlines a few reasons why this misguided gamer might take a different approach to his finances.

This consumer expects branches to stay open later, he wants shorter lines, and he wants low to nonexistant fees. Many credit unions meet these demands, it's just a matter of informing the public. Financial education and community outreach are pillars of the credit union way, this poster is a prime example of a disenfranchised member who needs to be shown the light. With alternatives abound, awareness of the credit union and its connection to community is all the more important.

How strange that, in a world where you can search for anything with a few taps on a smart phone, this guy still couldn't find a credit union or bank that suited all his needs. Is it a failure of branding, of advertising, or of the system at large? Is distrust in and distaste with banks so prevalent that people will trust their hard-earned money to their favorite brands for safekeeping?

Until this guy gets a "no more sell-backs" notice, I'm guessing he'll keep at it. But good luck paying for an emergency car repair or an expensive bill with a bunch of X-Box games.

And I don't think I'm going to switch all my money over snow tires after all. I like my money like I like my history museums: government funded, easily accessible and full of pictures of bygone presidents.

March 31, 2014

It's World Backup Day. Not That YOU Care.

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by Ron Daly

Ah, that wonderful spring air. The trees are in bud, the flowers are in bloom, the weather...well, the weather hasn't made up its mind just yet. All the calendars say it's the most wondrous day of the year...yeah, you guessed it, it's World Backup Day!

But let me guess...you don't care. 

I know your take on it. "World Backup Day? Is that the day we celebrate all the great backup singers in history?" No, not at all. World Backup Day is the day we all back up our computers. Many of us only do that once a year, regrettably, but better once a year than not at all.

"Ugh, backups," you groan. "My IT department is always bugging me to do them. Who has the time?"

Yeah! I agree completely! Who has the time?! Who has the roughly 30 to 60 minutes every two weeks to plug in an external hard drive, press "back up now" and let the computer back itself up? It's madness!

If your sarcasm meter isn't in the red right now, you better get it checked. Backing up your computer, your smartphone, your tablet - whatever electronic doo-dad you might lug around with you on a daily basis - has never been easier. You can back up to a hard drive. You might even be able to back up to a thumb drive, provided it's big enough. Heck, back your important stuff up to the cloud, or to your private online storage space. It's not that difficult. You don't need a computer science degree to know how, you just need to know your computer, know where you want the files to be stored, and know how to protect them once you store them.

"ARGH, I have to know THREE THINGS?! Listen, Mr. Daly..."

Mister Daly is my father. Please, call  me Ron.

"...okay. Listen, Ron, I'm very busy and I'm not very computer savvy. Plus, I keep my computer clean and free of viruses and it's practically new. Do I really need a backup routine?"

Yes. You really need a backup routine. Just like you really need insurance. You don't get insurance because you expect to get sick or injuredYou get insurance because sometimes, you get sick or injured out of the clear blue sky. Accidents and misfortune don't always have your name written all over them; sometimes, they're marked "to whom it may concern". Those are the days you want the benefit of a safety net. 

The same is true of computers. Sometimes, you get a virus that disguised itself as the latest version of your favorite Facebook game. Sometimes, your house gets struck by lightning. Sometimes, your clumsy nephew drops an entire glass of water into your CPU. These sound like crazy one-off events, but they happen to well-meaning people every day. In a world where we keep all our precious memories, our favorite songs, and our important documents neatly on the "C:" drive, why wouldn't you take the few extra minutes every month, plug in, back up, and then store that data somewhere safe?

On any given day, the person who is responsible for data loss is you. You can prevent it, and when you can't, you can prepare for a new computer that has all your important files on it. All it takes is a regular backup routine.

"You know what, Ron? You've convinced me. I'm going to go to the World Backup Day website, take the pledge and get my life on track."

Glad I could help.

"Speaking of backup singers, though...any chance you'll be in my cover band? We mostly sing Motley Crue covers..."

No way, no how.

March 14, 2014

The Devil, the Details and You.

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by Ron Daly

I was cruising through LinkedIn and saw this post from CU Grow, posted with the intriguing snippet: 

"Let’s be honest, a CEO most likely does not care about the details of the creative as they are more interested in the outcome and value the results of the creative provide."

As a CEO myself, I had to chew that over. Yes, I care about the creative details - I'd like to know they're on-brand and well-done and useful. No, I don't care about every detail - I have to differ creative choices to the creatives I pay to...well, create.

The article is all about KPI's - Key Performance Indicators. What makes a campaign successful? Is it the number of people that click? Is it view/play counts? Is it downloads? 

Chances are, none of these metrics tell you much on their own. Click-throughs matter, but only in the interest of finding how many people bought something on the other end. Views and play counts are nice, but how many of those views can you trace back to a loan offered or a problem solved?  How many downloads of your white paper got you another conversation?  "The Devil's in the Details," they say, and while I don't think you have to be the devil to see how your virtual branch is managing visitors, I think it is important to keep the big picture in focus.

I like the article I read. I like knowing that our online initiatives reduce acquisition costs, boost profitability, and improve operational efficiencies. And I really love seeing all of that happen, start to finish, through the analytics. That's why I like to look at the following pieces of information for any campaign done online: 

1. Campaign Sources - This is an obvious one. I like both a macro- and micro-view of the campaigns because I want to know more about what's working. Are banner ads outperforming email for a certain campaign? What target audience responds best to webinars? In a given email campaign, how far did clickthrough-visitors go in pursuit of information? Which leads me to info-point two:

2. Time Spent and Visit Depth - Of the people that came in from any given campaign source, how long did they stick around and how much reading did they do? Did they download anything? Did they sign up for a webinar? 

3. Where's This Going? - I want to be able to compare the products we're promoting against the page visits for those products. As much as possible, I want to know what brought users to those pages and how much each clickthrough cost.

4. Drawing the Line - For each lead we get, I'd like to be able to draw a line from one point to the next in the road to their admission as a lead. Is this a client? Is this a prospect? Is this a potential partner? What brought them in, what did it cost us, and what's our next step in bringing them on board?

Hopefully these are good guidelines for you as well. All of this information is pretty easy to ascertain if your analytics are correctly set up and you have a good grasp on your costs. As you dig in on your reports and results, ask yourself an even bigger question: "what might change?" As Brent Dixon discussed in his most recent CU Water Cooler post, there are many things to consider when you're looking at one end result. In most cases, you can't point to a single root cause of any effect. Consider everything and try to think of your marketing campaigns (and your department) as a system. How does one piece affect another? Can something be changed to improve overall performance?

The devil's in the details but finding out how each arm of your marketing plan is working with the others is heavenly.

February 19, 2014

What I've Learned About Shoveling

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by Ron Daly

If you've ignored every media outlet for the past week, you might not know that we've had a lot of snow in the DC Metro area. With a foot or more of snow comes the fun of sledding and snowmen...and the un-fun of shoveling.

The main roads get plowed and the sub-streets get plowed. My driveway, on the other hand, is entirely up to me. A cubic foot of snow weighs (roughly) ten pounds. Given the dimensions of my driveway, I was throwing around about 250 pounds over the course of a few hours. My aching back can vouch for me.

Here's what I've learned about shoveling: it's a pain in the butt. It makes you sore and tired and you can't really make a dent unless you have a few hours to spare. If you don't want to shovel, you have a few options:

1) A bigger, better shovel - My older snow shovel is nothing compared to my neighbor's. His has a weird curve that makes it easier on your back and shoulders. He paid a little more but he's done in half the time. 

2) A snowblower - I could theoretically get a snow blower and cut my workload by 90%. The problem there is that I don't get enough snow to justify the cost and I don't really have the room.

3) Outsource - I could hire guys to come shovel my driveway and walkway for me but that takes, you guessed it, more money.

Those are the options, least-costly to most-costly. I'm still weighing them out based on the winter we've been having, the amount of money I'm spending on ibuprofen and the room I have in my garage for more stuff that only gets used once or twice every year. I can only imagine how friends of mine who live in Wisconsin or Minnesota or Michigan are dealing with all this snow. Their cost-analysis spreadsheet looks a little different than mine because it's a problem they have to deal with a lot more frequently. 

One thing is clear to me: "do nothing" is out of the question. If I just decide to wait out the spring to melt the snow, everything will halt. We won't be able to drive to work or get our kid to her swim class. We won't be able to go to the store or invite people over to our home. We're stuck if I don't do something. I can't put the lives of everyone in my family on hold while I wait for the snow to melt.

When spring comes and the time is right, I'll make my move. But for now, I shovel. 

Want to know what else I learned about shoveling? It's a pretty good metaphor for the work we do in the credit union industry. Every day, people come to us looking for answers. We provide: 

  1. Information, so they can make informed decisions
  2. Enticement, so they know what we have to offer and see the value of same, and
  3. Services, so they can live their lives more fully with less hassle.

The tools are out there to provide all three. We can inform potential members, serve existing members and market more effectively to both. The tools exist and the methods exist. At DigitalMailer, we have clients that just need a "better shovel" - dependable technology that can handle small volume. Some clients opt for the "snowblower" - technology that can handle complicated tasks with ease and not much input. Others need manpower and consultation to get things done and to deal with the high volume of members. Different strokes for different folks, but they're all here because the small shovel wasn't moving the snow quickly and effectively.

The more members and potential members accumulate, the more we need to do something. We can do it ourselves with the tools we have but if the tools fall short, we need to either improve, upgrade or outsource. 

We can't afford to do nothing.

 

January 28, 2014

The State of Credit Unions in 2014, As Predicted by The "Crystal Ball" of Google

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by Ron Daly

Let's face it - Googling stuff is fun. It has been from the very beginning and it's still a hoot.

Sometimes, Google can show you the future. I decided to put Google's "crystal ball" capabilities to the test and see what 2014 had in store for the industry. I simply put

  • "In 2014, credit unions will *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions must *"
  • "In 2014, credit unions should *"

into the search bar and hit return. And voila! all the interesting tidbits about what the industry should focus on this year. Some highlights: 

"[Credit Unions] must focus on enhancing members’ cross-channel experiences, says Belinda Caillouet, chair of the CUNA Technology Council..."

"Charting Your Course Through 2014", creditunionsmagazine.com

Agreed. Members are leaning hard on technology and demanding more channels that work well with one another. That includes mobile apps, online banking and ATM/branch services that all play well together and stay up-to-date and easy-to-use.

"Financial marketers will be accountable for analyzing the real results of content marketing strategies in 2014. Because every channel ultimately affects all of the others, attribution modeling allows marketers to credit a specific ad or touch point along a sales funnel rather than just the last material viewed or clicked."

"Digital Marketing Trends for Banks and Credit Unions in 2014", TheFinancialBrand.com

Yep, right on the money. The technology we're using to sell to members is getting better and we can start making sense of data and offering products and services that make the most sense for each individual member.

“In the next 12 months, mobile will overtake online in terms of number of users. It already has more transactions."

"5 Mobile Trends to Watch in 2014", cutimes.com

I'll be interested to see the outcome of this one. Mobile's a big part of people's lives, but can credit unions rise to that challenge and create great mobile app experiences in the space of a year? A year, mind you, that's already down to eleven months as of Saturday of this week?

"In 2014, the trusted role of banks and credit unions as the collector of funds, provider of loans, processor of payments and advisor of financial relationships will continue to come under fire from non-traditional players including new financial organizations (neobanks), hardware providers, third party payment processors, and mobile app developers that merchants and consumers are using to chip away at the traditional financial services model."

"Top Ten Banking Trends for 2014", bai.org

More sharks in a still-pretty-small tank? This is the moment CUs have been waiting for — the moment to set themselves apart from the upstarts and prove they can be valued, trusted financial partners by offering sensible services and can't-be-beat member interactions.

"To experience loan growth in 2014, credit unions will need to originate significantly more consumer loans to offset the expected declines in mortgage originations."

"Marketing Overview and Data Report", catalyststrategic.org

I'm really curious about what kinds of loans credit unions will be promoting in place of mortgages (assuming they cut back on mortgage promotions, which some won't). Credit cards? Student loans? Where's the "heat" in lending in 2014?

“Looking ahead to 2014, credit unions can expect to see the CFPB expand its fair lending focus,” said Bundy. “The CFPB’s regulatory agenda unmistakably signals that fair lending will be a focal point of new rule making starting in 2014.”

"CUNA Mutual Group Anticipates Broader Regulatory Focus in 2014", cunamutual.com

"...The CFPB has the luxury in 2014 to move on to topics other than mortgages, such as overdraft, prepaid cards, Reg CC disclosures, and debt collection. To keep track of all of it, take advantage of various resources out there—besides NAFCU, and the CFPB, many law firms have compliance blogs and news alerts you can subscribe to for free. Knowledge is power, so grab on!"

"Credit union industry experts: What’s in store for 2014", cuinsight.com

I bundled those together for a reason: the CFPB will be stepping up its game in 2014. Credit unions will need to arm themselves with information, as mentioned in the second story. There are plenty of great resources out there, both free and paid.

Any other big predictions for this year? Leave them in the comments section.