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Transparency Shows Impact, Benefits of CUs, says Filene
Wednesday, January 7, 2015 6:30 AM

A new white paper from the Filene Research Institute explores how credit unions can measure and promote positive impact they have on their members and communities to enhance their standing in the financial services marketplace.

A range of credit unions with assets from $27 million to $11 billion were interviewed for the report, "Choosing Relevance: How Credit Unions Can Harness Transparency and Show Impact."

According to the report, credit unions could fare better in the marketplace if they show how they help members navigate life-cycle and other financial challenges in normal and turbulent economic periods. Credit unions should use business intelligence to see, show and share impacts benefiting members and the communities that they serve.

Fulfilling these goals will mean going beyond typical banking metrics and practices. Strategies that emerged from credit union executive interviews include:

  • Pool purchasing of core technology so that credit unions focus more resources and attention on differentiating, member-facing technology;
  • Go beyond member satisfaction scores and credit union organizational history in order to grow community impacts through "member returns" in addition to basic interest payouts, financial capability programs, payment deferral during community emergencies, and working with members facing life-cycle challenges;
  • Target particular segments for impact work and measure influence, for example, through financial literacy and account management for members who are now vulnerable (such as pre-high school children, young adults, retirees and the elderly);
  • Experiment with the sharing economy as a strategy for bettering members' well-being. As members focus more on use and less on ownership, consider how the credit union can responsibly finance life activities, such as education, small business and transportation; and
  • Rebrand the credit union as a knowledge transfer hub that places the credit union at the center of members' financial lives by allowing them to trade peer advice and insights about budgeting, buying, retiring and saving.