NACUSO 2010

NACUSO LogoThe NACUSO 2010 Annual Conference is nearing its end already. As is frequently the case with solid credit union conferences, we’ve been going non-stop since our arrival on Sunday.  We’ve had Gary Mangiofico from Pepperdine, John Fish from AstraZenca and Michael Taylor from Schelling Point, with more to come tomorrow. Rather than even try to update everyone on the presentations, go check out the Twitter feed from the conference. A few of us have been live blogging when possible and it’ll give you great insight into some of the discussions going down. As a side note, conference organizers should put all of the speakers’ presentations on Slideshare so everyone can get a copy of them.

As is usual with NACUSO, the caliber of people that this conference attracts is amazing. These are hands down, the most innovative and entrepreneurial people in the entire credit union industry. The things that people at the conference have been able to accomplish is amazing. Ongoing Operations of Hagerstown, Maryland, for example, won the 2010 CUSO of the Year award for their outstanding disaster recovery services. They have over 125 credit union clients and 20(ish) credit union owners in the actual CUSO demonstrating what real collaboration can accomplish.

The theme NACUSO has been driving home is collaboration and innovation throughout the whole week. The speakers have really brought home many of the concepts and done a great job talking about the good, and the bad, of collaboration and innovation.

Check out CU Times for for some more coverage from Michelle Samaad and don’t forget to check out the Twitter feed. Make sure to try and make it a point to attend next year. Who knows, maybe we’ll get a crash together for it…

Introducing Numbers

Numbers

Welcome to Numbers, CU Innovators call report data solution.

While the NCUA has been providing call report data for many years, it has always been structured in such a way that makes it problematic to use unless you were a database administrator. There are a few others solutions available to the enterprising user, but none give the flexibility required for a custom reporting solution or web application. Wading through the details every quarter to update Excel spreadsheets is monotonous and takes up valuable time. With Numbers, all that is a thing of the past.

Built on a high-availability database architecture, Numbers is readily available online to be integrated into almost any tool you can dream up.

Internal credit union reporting
Peer comparisons
Merger analysis
CUSO market research
Credit union industry trends
Custom web applications

Numbers has been integrated into websites to demonstrate the effectiveness of a product to potential credit union clients. It has been used for peer comparisons and analysis to determine high performing credit unions. It is currently being built upon to create an impact analysis for potential clients of a CUSO. The list goes on and on.

What, do you say, could I use this for? The NCUA call report contains a large amount of data, including the asset size of every federally insured credit union. It has the url of their website, which online banking provider they use, how many employees they have, who the CEO is, and how much fee income they produced in a given quarter. There is so much information, in fact, that we’ve created a searchable data dictionary (PDF) to help you wade through it all.

Numbers has a large variety of uses and is only limited by your imagination. If you have any idea of how you’d like to use Numbers, drop us a line. We’d love to help you out! For more info, visit the Numbers product page.

Florence Chamber Resources

Links

Google Alerts

Yelp

name.com (Domain Name Registration)

Google Apps (Email, calendar, etc)

WordPress (Free Blog/Website)

Files

Intro to Social Media Tools (PowerPoint Slideshow)

Intro to Social Media Tools – Slides (PDF)

Intro to Social Media Tools – Color Handout (PDF)

Intro to Social Media Tools – Grayscale Handout (PDF)

Free Things IT Can Do Webinar

We just finished up the first webinar with CU Tech Talk on Free Things IT Can Do to Improve Efficiency and Member Satisfaction. Here’s the presentation for those interested.

Click here to download the PDF version of this presentation.

Mica and Leggett to form new consulting company

Dan Mica and Keith LeggettDan Mica and Keith Leggett have announced today that they will be forming a new consulting company to assist credit unions and banks with strategic planning and political efforts.

Dan Mica announced his retirement plans in late 2009, but has been tight lipped about his destination until now. As a former Congressmen, Mica has very unique insight into how the political process works and how best to accomplish the goals of an industry. Keith Leggett, a senior economist with American Bankers Association, has been critical of credit unions and the NCUA in the past, especially in regards to business lending, corporate credit union issues, NCUA governance, and field of membership restrictions. In reference to the recent creation of a new low-income designated credit union, Leggett had this to say, “…I guess being a rogue agency is part of NCUA’s culture.”

While some may be initially shocked that such an avid credit union supporter would be joining forces with what many describe as an enemy of the credit union industry, the combination of their unique skill sets could be advantageous for credit unions and banks.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the industry. With Mica partnering with Leggett, could it be viewed as him jumping ship and getting in bed with the ABA? On the other hand, Leggett may be viewed has suddenly having a soft heart for credit unions. Either way, the pair will have a tough boat to row, potentially polarizing any potential clients. The industry will watch with anticipation once the company is launched in January 2011.

Here’s the full press release.

Auditing the cloud

Cloud computing this, distributed computing that. People hate buzzwords. Cloud computing however, is one you will have to put in your dictionary eventually, if you haven’t already. We’re big fans of cloud computing. It can dramatically change the way that financial institutions leverage infrastructure and their capital. But, cloud computing is still in its infancy. One of the first things most people ask about the cloud is, “Is it secure?” Most of the time, the answer is yes. But for financial institutions, that isn’t good enough. We have to prove it and that’s where it gets a little tricky.

Most financial institutions have robust policies in place allowing their supervisory committee, external auditors, or other vendors access to reports and analysis on the security measures in place. Not just alarms and panic buttons, but also teller and cash drawer controls, dual-custody policies, password policies, remote access policies, and board bylaws. As cloud computing becomes more of the norm, IT will need to demonstrate the security measures in place surrounding their cloud infrastructure.

Windows Azure LogoThe Windows Azure Platform is one of the newer entries into the cloud computing market. Created and run by Microsoft, Azure will be come a very popular selection for cloud computing needs simply because it is owned and operated by Microsoft. They claim to have completed a SAS 70 Type I and Type II audit on their “cloud platform”, which is one of the key factors for financial institutions, but they don’t specify that it is for their Azure platform, nor is it available for download. Either of those factors could be a stumbling block for credit unions or banks.

SQL Azure LogoSQL Azure, Microsoft’s database cloud offering, provides some excellent alternatives for database hosting. Rather than paying expensive licensing fees or hosting fees, a company can use Microsoft’s very robust and redundant infrastructure to host their databases. Even Microsoft’s cloud is still an infant though. Currently, their SQL Azure offering has no server level auditing in place. While logical, as many people are sharing a virtualized database and access restrictions are need, it also prevents users from verifying that no one else is logging in to or otherwise gaining access to their resources. Very few auditing choices exist today for SQL Azure, as demonstrated in this article.

Rackspace LogoRackspace, on the other hand, has a very descriptive page detailing their expertise and certifications, including their SAS 70 Type II and their PCI compliance. Their SAS 70 is able to be downloaded and their PCI compliance also presents a unique security offering to financial institutions, helping them be more confident in their choice of a cloud provider.

Cloud computing is going to become the norm in the financial industry. It may take the form of private clouds or stay public, but technology infrastructure is going to become a utility. Just like we pay for electricity now, we’ll pay for computing resources as well. If your FI is looking to make the move into cloud computing, start with baby steps. Don’t put member information up there quite yet. Start with your public facing website then move your intranet. Start experimenting, but keep in mind the many security and auditing concerns that exist today.

Free stuff is good

Everyone loves free marketing, right? Then why don’t wee see more credit unions taking advantage of holiday marketing?

As is always the case, Google had a “doodle” of their logo of for Saint Patrick’s day last week. Google has made it a point to create doodles of their logos for darn near every holiday possible. They even did a doodle to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the patent for a bar-code.

Google's Saint Patrick's Day Logo

Newegg, a major online electronics retailer, even gets into the holiday spirit with their own customized holiday logo.

Newegg's Holiday Logo

So what does all of this mean to credit unions?

Credit unions can stay relevant and fresh with only minor tweaks to your brand.
Your brand is not set in stone. It is not a palette of 3 colors that you must always use.
Take advantage of the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Oscar the Grouch’s birthday.

These “holidays” give a marketer a tremendous amount of material to create new campaigns to entice new members, and existing members, to strength their relationship with the credit union. Run a promotion that makes Oscar the Grouch (aka the CFO) cranky. And pitch it like that.  Don’t forget the upcoming Earth Day. But do forget the overused “Plant a tree for switching to e-statements.” You just missed National Pie Day on January 23rd, which was your chance to hold a pie fundraiser. Sell pies at $10 a piece to throw at your local branch manager to raise funds for Credit Union for Kids or your own charity. But be careful not to encroach on someone’s protected trademark.

Whatever your do, do it well and do it different. Your members will love you for it.

to try, test, experience, prove

That is the definition of experiri (in Latin) and it also represents the first set of product offerings from CU Innovators.

Frequently, projects we’re working on for clients create discussions around solutions that are missing from the credit union industry. Other times, problems not associated with our current projects are brought up by clients as a “wouldn’t it be nice if” kind of thing. We’re trying to fix some of those “things”.

experiri is our outlet to test new ideas, new business models, and other things we think could help the credit union industry. It is easy to talk about innovation in credit unions, but it is a whole other thing to actually encourage people to try. So experiri is our stake in the ground. This is our corner of the innovative industry that credit unions could be.

Our first product, slated to be available next week, is technology related and aims to make credit union data readily available to be “mashed-up” into online applications, market research, and other tools for credit unions. Our second product, due for release in May, is in the social media space, and we’ll give you a hint: Christopher Morriss just mentioned this as a pain point for him on Twitter.

Stay tuned for more information!

The Best Potatoes

Seriously, if I had money, I would just do things like this. Screw committees and politics. Insert credit union everywhere they say potato and we have a darn near great national credit union campaign.

I’d send an invite for each league president to bring themselves and one credit union CEO to a shoot and they’d have a script not to far from this.