If you’ve been following THINK 17 – and even if you haven’t – adapting your credit union to a new digital reality is likely to be top of mind. In this Q&A for CO-OP’s new THINK Review magazine, CO-OP President/CEO Todd Clark shares considerations for credit unions navigating their own digital transformation journeys. Here’s what he had to say:
THINK REVIEW: Do you think credit unions are aware of the urgent need for digital transformation?
TODD CLARK: The credit union industry has always been willing to embrace technology, so there isn’t a gap there. But the scale and the pace of change is easy to underestimate – not only for credit unions, but for banks as well. Maybe for everyone.
If you think about how OpenTable has changed the restaurant experience, or how Uber has changed transportation, it doesn’t seem like anything in financial services has come close yet. Even the big names in payments innovation that are out there – take Venmo or Square – those are features around existing products. There’s not an enormous amount of net new. We need to take a larger view, and when I say “we,” I’m including CO-OP.
THINK REVIEW: What can credit unions be thinking about if they want to meet the needs of digitally minded consumers?
TODD CLARK: Consumers are looking for things to be easier, faster, better – every day of their lives. You can start by asking yourself: Does your member experience meet your expectations as a consumer? What can you do to measure up to the Amazons of the world? That’s the kind of standard we’re trying to set here at CO-OP, so that when your members are looking for a real-time, pay-anyone P2P experience, they can use your card in the Zelle app. When they want to track their transactions on their smartphones in real time, they can use CardNav.
It’s also important to listen to what your members want when you’re considering new technology or experiences. You want to use their input before investing in innovation.
THINK REVIEW: Is that something CO-OP can help our clients do?
TODD CLARK: It’s something we should help them do, absolutely. We have a tremendous amount of our clients’ data. Philosophically, we’re of the opinion that all the data that we have should be available to our client credit unions to run their queries against. Practically, that’s a goal we’re going to keep working toward in the months to come. We’re integrating so our clients have access to more data. And we’re improving interfaces so they can understand that data more readily. A few of the ways we’re doing that: a set of APIs and a new, upgraded BI tool that we’re going to be introducing some time in 2017.
THINK REVIEW: That speaks to some of the technology that enables digital transformation. But how do credit unions provide the leadership that makes agility possible?
TODD CLARK: My best advice is to be deliberate and measured in your approach, but don’t be afraid to take a risk. And you won’t advance the ball at all if you aren’t willing to change yourself. One of the questions I would ask of a CEO is, “How many apps do you have on your phone, and how many do you use on a daily basis?” If it’s less than three, you might need to think about resetting your self-expectations.
We’re all empowered in the digital era. Everyone you work with has insight, inspiration, relevant experience. Mine that. Make sure your organization is uncluttered enough to recognize opportunity and act on it quickly. CO-OP will be right there with you, doing the same.
THINK REVIEW: Is this a conversation we can continue as we all undergo the process of digital transformation?
TODD CLARK: It’s a conversation we should continue, because this process is an ongoing challenge for CO-OP and for the credit unions we work with. Digital transformation isn’t as simple as plugging in a new technology. But it can begin with the simple decision to become a different kind of organization.
Would you like a free subscription to THINK Review? We’ll send you a new issue every quarter, each one designed to offer you the latest big ideas and trends through the lens of the credit union movement. Sign up now at co-opthink.org/think-review/.