As credit unions evolve, so must their employees’ skills and responsibilities. That evolution is driven by a host of factors—technology, member preferences, cost, competition, and labor trends. In the next decade, the work force will be enhanced with new skills and characteristics. It’s important for each credit union to clearly define its vision in as much detail as possible, and then hire the people to get it there.
The following list is not exhaustive. Every credit union job will change to some degree, but these jobs are in for the most extreme changes:
Branch managers acting as ‘franchisees.’
Branch managers will be required to have a better grasp of member data and to be multimedia savvy, says Greg Inman, senior vice president of retail operations at Neighbors Federal Credit Union, Baton Rouge, La.
They’ll need an understanding of which channels members prefer and which messages resonate with members and potential members. And when members come in for visits, branch managers will need to have systems and staff in place to seize every opportunity.
Neighbors Federal challenges its branch managers to think like sole proprietors, says Inman. Branch managers at the $570 million asset credit union are asked to attain customized goals—lending targets, business development goals, or becoming active members of the local chamber of commerce.
“Act as if you’re a franchisee,” Inman tells branch managers. “What are you doing to build business in your credit union? What’s your strategy for growth? How can you operate more efficiently?
“We hire branch managers who bring a variety of skills and experience with them,” he adds. Not all of them come from credit unions. “Some have retail backgrounds, others were in the mortgage or finance business.”
Neighbors Federal has invested heavily in training to prepare its branch managers to play this more active role. Each branch manager goes through a six-week program conducted by Success Labs—a leadership development company. The program is designed to help branch managers build leadership skills in a variety of areas.
“Credit unions might find they can’t cost-justify having a traditional branch manager in each location,” notes Robert Carmichael, senior vice president at $241 million asset Maine (Hampden) Savings Federal Credit Union.
Perhaps each branch will have an assistant manager with a regional manager over multiple branches, he adds. “This decision might come down to your lending model: If you have local decision-making authority, it could still be appropriate to have either a manager or a lending officer at each branch.”
Marketers becoming tech-savvy strategists.
While social media and delivery channels are important, credit union marketers need to think bigger.
Marketing has traditionally focused on “creative” and “delivery channels,” says Amy Davis, vice president of marketing at $580 million asset community-chartered Red Canoe Credit Union in Longview, Wash. But marketers must become a driving force in strategic planning, she adds, and gain a seat at the executive table.
Marketers also need to take responsibility and embrace a new role: informed stewards of the bottom line, she says. Marketers must understand credit union liquidity needs, loan-portfolio dynamics, and profitability.
Marketing can’t be perceived as a cost center—it’s an investment, she adds.
To take on expanded roles, marketers need excellent data-capture and data-mining capabilities. Credit unions need to hire data-management analysts, says Davis. “We need to know which campaigns are working and which channels are most important to our members. To do that, we have to integrate with our marketing customer information file.”
Georgia (Duluth) United Credit Union shares this viewpoint and recently created a chief marketing officer (CMO) position.
“As the role of marketing has become more complex, it’s increasingly critical for us to show the return on investment from our marketing efforts,” says Jason Halperin, CMO at the $890 million asset, multiple-select employee group (SEG) credit union. “Our advertising agency is primarily responsible for the creative side, but every aspect of our marketing is driven by our organization’s strategic goals.”
Halperin, who has background in both lending and marketing, stresses the interdependence of credit union functions. Good marketers use all the resources available to them, he says.
“They understand the credit union’s financial goals, they know what members value, and they rely on IT to know what is and isn’t working,” he adds. “This coordination will continue to be critical as the credit union movement becomes more complex.”
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