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David Zach Prepares Credit Union Leaders for the Future
Thursday, July 20, 2017 6:40 AM

Catalyst Corporate Credit Union

For credit unions to succeed, leaders should be curious about everything.

“Be curious about the future of healthcare. Of manufacturing. Of transportation,” said futurist David Zach. He encourages credit unions to think about the big picture, because those who hyper-focus on just the future of credit unions may not make it. 

Zach is presenting An Owner’s Guide to the Future at Catalyst Corporate’s 40th annual Economic Forum, Oct. 2–4 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas, Texas.

"Two dominant forces are at the center of the economy,” he said. “Creativity and logistics. In other words, how we create and how we organize what we create. The successful credit union of the future is going to have to be seen as a logistics organization but must also operate in the realm of creativity.” Curiosity has to play a vital role, he adds.

Take 3-D printing, for example. Designers are already showing ways to print the walls of a house. How will this affect the housing market, and how will that affect credit unions, he asks.

“In about 10 years, we might be able to print the wall with the wires and the pipes already inside of it,” said Zach. “It’s very possible that more than 50 percent of the jobs that exist today might be done by a machine over the next 20 years. If credit unions aren’t thinking and worrying about this, they may be toast.”

While Zach sees curiosity as a driving force for future success, he also explains how credit unions need to differentiate fads from trends and principles in order to make the right choices going forward.

“Think of it this way,” he said. “Fads are like the waves on the water. They rock the boat. Trends represent the currents. They move the boat. But ultimately, you need the principles of sailing through the changes to correctly navigate your path toward your goals.”

In the credit union world, trends cross time may not yield immediate results. Credit union trends sometimes influence gaining or losing members and gaining or losing assets, he noted. Automation, as illustrated by the 3-D printing illustration, is a trend to watch, and Zach urges credit union leaders to “have a better grasp of this.”

In contrast, credit union principles transcend time. “They’re always going to be considered truth, even if we ignore them,” he adds. Fads can be used as spices to make trends more appealing to members, to draw their attention to the right things.

To prepare for the future, Zach offers interesting advice: “Stop reading so much ‘news,’ and start reading more ‘olds.’” News is about change, he says. And while monitoring change is good, the lifespan of a news story is hours, if not minutes.

On the other hand, “‘[O]lds’ is information that hasn’t changed since yesterday that you may need to know to be successful,” he said. “We’ve become too dismissive of anything that isn’t new, when ‘olds’ is the information that makes up most of the world.”

Another step credit union leaders should take to insure a successful future is reaching out to Millennials—possibly in a different way. “No group has been more heavily marketed to than Millennials,” he said. Because of this, Millennials are now wary of marketing.

“If you want to build rapport with Millennials, you need to show up where they show up,” Zach said. “Rather than try to approach them face to face, approach them side by side. Look at what they’re seeing. Stand where they’re standing. Try to see the world through their eyes by looking at what they’re looking at.”

To hear more from Zach and other thought leaders, attend Catalyst Corporate's Economic Forum. Register at

About Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union
Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union is a wholesale cooperative financial institution serving more than 1,400 member and client credit unions in all 50 states. Since 1975, Catalyst Corporate has been providing credit unions efficient and competitively priced core financial services, including payments and technology services, liquidity and member credit services and balance sheet management and investment services, as well as industry-leading back-office support.

Catalyst Corporate Federal Credit Union is a five-star endorsed partner of Credit Union Resources, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Cornerstone Credit Union League.