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The Credit Union Landscape will be Different in 2025. Are You Prepared?
Wednesday, December 23, 2015 6:35 AM

By Dean Borland, SCMS, CUDE, VP Product Development, Credit Union Resources Trending Credit Unions in 2025

In the white paper, “The Next 10 Years: Credit Unions in 2025i,” the Filene Research Institute’s Ben Rogers and Manny Nat observed that the number of U.S. credit unions has declined 36 percent since 1998, and estimates predict the loss of an additional 150-200 credit unions per year in the future. While it is true that some credit unions close due to financial hardship, most of the attrition in the number of credit unions in recent years has been a result of voluntary mergers involving small credit unions who have lost primary sponsor subsidies or who were unable to replace the loss of a long-time CEO or directors.

Future decline in the number of credit unions will likely be attributable to a variety of factors, not the least of which is the anticipated retirement of a significant number of credit union CEOs. However, in almost every case, mergers are influenced by a credit union’s inability to identify, articulate, and sustain its value proposition to members.

In the future, value will likely be closely aligned with how EASY it is for members to conduct business. Credit union “winners” will leverage remote delivery to provide instant gratification for all types of product and service interactions, from new account opening to payments and even mortgages. Credit unions who do not adapt will suffer diminishing value as consumers (think Gen X and Gen Y) migrate toward providers who offer ease, convenience, and instant gratification of needs.

All credit unions will be challenged, both technologically and financially, as operational processes and remote delivery systems are reengineered to serve the preferences of Gen X and Gen Y (Millennial) consumers. Scale (asset size) will definitely have a positive influence on credit union success. Unfortunately, few, if any, credit unions have the scale or financial capacity to be everything to everybody. As a result, credit union winners will likely be those, large and small, who identify a niche, something that consumers (members) want, and deliver on their promise better than any competitor.

As the future unfolds, some credit unions will survive, others will not. According to the Filene study, “Every credit union should have the hard discussion about whether to remain independent in its niche, seek acquisitions, or be acquired.” The discussion is a strategic imperative, one that focuses on the value provided to members, one that needs to involve senior leaders and directors, and one that needs to happen sooner than later.

If you need assistance with Strategic Planning, Succession Planning, policy development or board member education, OnBalance is here to help. To learn more about all of the products and services we offer visit us online or contact Karen Houston-Johnson at khouston-johnson@curesources.coop, Howard Bufe at hbufe@curesources.coop or Dean Borland at dborland@curesources.coop.

i The Next Ten Years: Credit Unions in 2025, Filene Research Institute, Ben Rogers and Manpreet Nat, September 2015