Finding the next generation of credit union leaders – 5 Key Traits

Great article on leadership in the 4-17-11 Sunday New York Times – adapted from “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed.”

The key question asked by the article – out of a pool of 100 people with similar attributes, what are the leadership characteristics that are essential for success – success for the individual and success for the organization? As credit unions turn over a major portion of their leadership over the next decade, finding executives with these characteristics becomes essential as we seek the next generation of leaders.

There are five, and they are all traits that can be developed (as opposed to being innate) –

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Make insurance a permanent ‘aisle’ in your branches

Guest post by Jeff Chesky, President & CEO, Insuritas

Strategies for selling insurance to credit union members are undergoing a radical transformation. Regulatory reforms are limiting or eliminating traditional sources of fee income, and that’s placing additional pressure on income sources like insurance sales to fill the gap and help with recapitalization efforts. Some credit unions are taking a hard look at insurance as a critical fee-income generator, reengineering their processes for selling insurance to members. Credit union executives won’t be able to avoid comprehensive insurance product sales much longer.

Today, a credit union’s insurance programs are often treated as a redheaded stepchild to its core businesses of deposit gathering, loan-making and investment advisory services. A credit union may have an AD&D mail campaign, GAP insurance, even term life. Some credit unions think the best strategy for generating more income from insurance is to squeeze better margins out of their current partners. Although adding a little to the bottom line, that strategy is short sighted. The nation’s leading credit unions are drastically expanding the insurance products they offer to members — creating a one-stop shopping experience for all of their members’ insurance needs.

With current sources of fee income increasingly constrained, pressure on net interest margins proving relentless and competitive incursions into your membership a daily challenge, it’s no longer a matter of if your credit union will provide a comprehensive insurance agency solution for your members but when.

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7 strategies to help members that are five years from retirement (or so they thought…)

Let me start this post by saying that although I am way way too many years away from my own retirement, I still feel very much connected to those who are soon to be retirees. I too dream of my retirement – of those carefree days of leisurely lunches with the ladies, spontaneous travel and actually participating in the painting hobby I claim to have (but, then I remember I’m about 40 years away from that – or more! – and snap back into reality). But I do wonder what it would  feel like to be just 5 years from retirement bliss and then suddenly have to doubt that I can afford it? I can definitely feel for those worried pre-retirees and you should too, because they are members at your credit union.

Did you know nearly 2 in 3 (64%) of Americans believe that realistically they won’t ever be able to stop working and retire? (As reported in a StrategyOne Survey). That’s depressing. 🙁 And 10,000 baby boomers in the U.S. are turning 60 each day, on average! Wow – if that’s not an obvious sign that your credit union help is needed, I don’t know what is.

The market downturn has indeed affected us all. And when you’re five years from retirement and your stocks plummet, your 401(k) takes the biggest dip you’ve ever seen and you have lost the excitement you used to get when crossing off those days from your retirement countdown calendar—where do you turn to keep your retirement dreams alive? Is there a way to hang on to your plan of lounging on every beach around the world before you kick the bucket?

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Take some tips from Peter Drucker

Every now and again I’ll go back and browse through a favorite business book from my stack, in part because their meaning to me changes with each new experience gained.  The beauty of this blog is that I now get to share with the world, instead of just everyone here at work.  Maybe that will make the process less painful for Kelly, Kirstin and Kristina!

So let me go back to one of my favorite quick business reads of all-time – “The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization,” by Peter Drucker with commentary from an all-star cast of business luminaries – Jim Collins, Philip Kotler, and others.  It cuts through all the BS you usually find in ‘mass market’ business books and gets right to some basic, timeless key points.

What is most relevant here are not just the top five questions, but the process of asking and answering them, which is often the more useful part of the exercise. You gain more insight from asking others with different perspectives within your organization and outside of it the same questions to see how their answers compare, and by coming to a consensus on direction within your key management team.

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It’s time to give your credit products a face lift.

NAFCU recently held its annual Strategic Growth Conference in sunny Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I was here in 50 degree DC for that one…nonetheless, I got the scoop from our team on which sessions kept people out of the sun and in their seats. “Integrating Credit Cards into Your Overall Payments Strategy,” was top of the list. The session was presented by the very knowledgeable Stephanie Polen of FTPS. Let me tell you, I’ve seen Stephanie on the big stage before, and she has a brilliant marketing mind (something I admire as a fellow marketer). At the Growth Conference she outlined how credit union marketers can put some simple concepts into action to revamp credit card programs post CARD Act.

I wanted to share some of the action items that you can take to your credit union and impress your peers with your marketing know-how, innovation and ultimately improved success and profitability of your card programs. (You can thank us later).

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