CU’s and HSA’s

CUNA released an article yesterday about HSA’s and how the HSA market share will lean heavily towards the banking industry side of the playing field and that CU’s market share will slip. The article also says that about 15% of the market share currently resides with CU’s and that will slip to 5% by 2010.

It’s no secret that most CU’s are struggling right now with profit margin issues, inability to bring in core deposits, and heavier than normal loan write-offs. All of that leads right to impact of your bottom line.

HSA’s provide a wonderfully inexpensive product to offer to your members. Not only will it greatly benefit members who use it to pay their medical expenses, but it’s cheap core deposit money.

Visa is even coming out with solutions to help its customers (FI’s and consumers) spend their HSA money easier and help with the IRA guidelines. Click here for that article.

HSA’s are great for both the FI and the consumer, so what’s stopping the CU’s for owning this? We here for our members, right?

If you aren’t sure what an HSA is or want more info, try the Wikipedia article or the US Treasury resource here.

are we really retail?

I decided to stop and drop off lunch to my fiancee at her place of employment on Sunday (a golf course, lucky me). I was with her for maybe ten minutes or so, returned to my car to find that it had been broken into and my stereo was ripped from my dash. Surprisingly, I wasn’t too angry because they had overlooked my recently purchased $500 item in the trunk as well as my golf clubs.

As I drove away, I realized that they stole my can of Dr. Pepper, which really angered me, they stole my stereo with a screwdriver I had in the car, AND then I couldn’t remember where my checkbook was. I never use the silly thing and I almost always keep it in my glovebox. So now I’m starting to get mad. And then it dawns on me that all our branches are closed and they won’t be open until Tuesday. I then suddenly realize the limitations of our(mostly all) credit unions. This person could be running around writing checks everywhere this weekend for two days and nothing can be done about it. It be nice if we (my CU) could put stop payments on our checks online, but we can’t. It’d be nice if we had a 24/7 call center, but we don’t. It’d be nice if I could report my account stolen/lost/whatever online, but I can’t.

Thankfully, I was semi-responsible and my check book wasn’t in my glovebox.

But the moral of the story: our members’ lives don’t stop on the weekend. Either we need to be open or our online channels better kick butt. So I don’t want to hear that the banking/cu’ing industry it retail anymore until we have full service branches open on Sundays!

talk to your members!!!!

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: “Read Fast Company!!” On page 71 of their July/August issue they have an article entitled “Talk to our customers? Are you crazy?” The article details the experience immersion, as the subject of the article calls it, and it outlines Credit Suisse Bank and how they are figuring out what the members, I mean customers, want.

Raise your hand if your CU has done a member survey in the past two years…….. Good for you. But wait you say, we do transactional-based surveys and we have a suggestion box online and a voicemail box to leave suggestions too. Pull out the party poppers. Everyone has that.

Some of you reading this might, just might have thoughts of a blog dancing in your mind like a sugar-plum fairy and good for you. But Credit Suisse has a real focus on finding out what their members, I mean customers want. (That’s a hard habit to kick!) They actual talk to their members. Not focus groups. Not surveys. Real, in person chats, in their branches. Now it doesn’t happen all the time but they drug out a few busy executives to 3 of their branches for a little visit.

The first branch the execs had to learn how to watch customers. The next branch they had to do some customer-type transactions. And the third branch they had to actual talk to real people. In person. Face to face. The end result: branch remodels, strategies to decrease wait time, and redesigns of basic policies.

Credit Suisse is doing an awesome thing, and us as CU’s need to pay attention. They are really talking to their members. Get those VP’s out in the branches. Make them do different transactions in a branch. Make them wait in line. Make them find an ATM location on your website or apply for a credit card.

Put on your member hat. And you can’t do it by sitting in your office because they are not just like you!

Let’s see the “C’s”

How many of your “C’s” (the CEO, CFO, etc) know what a blog is? How many actively participate, or at least subscribe to, blogs?

If you can get those C’s to start understanding the power behind blogging, you’ll be able to get your CU, or whatever other company, blogging to! Get them to see the product ideas, marketing insights, and financial management theories that pop up in blogs.

Help get your C’s blogging, and when you do, a CU sponsored blog will become an eventual reality.

Gaining some efficiency (and cross sales!)

I see everyone’s had a nice little vacation this past week. Not too much action in the CU blogging world! But last week was a busy one for me!

Just last week, I put the final touches (I guess I’m actually just getting started now) on our new “New Account Process”. I just got the CEO to sign off on our new contract with Andera, a FiServ company that specializes in providing online membership and share account opening. Not only will our FSR’s no longer have to do triplicate entry to open a new membership anymore, it’ll take the time down from over 30 minutes to about 10 minutes! Now with all of that extra time, our FSR’s will be able to do some more effective cross selling because they’ll have the potential member’s credit report in front of them to!!

AND we are now going to be able to full open, and fund, new accounts online!! How cool is that! Now I just have to figure out how to get the high-yielding savings account thing figured out. But I think I’m almost there……..

Focus Groups

I’ve heard it said before that blogging is the new focus group, and I believe it now. I just sat through a focus group for a product development project we’re working on and received very valuable feedback. I received so much in fact that I’d love to be able to do a monthly city hall type meeting and encourage members just to come and chat about the credit union.
Increasingly, I’m seeing the divide between what upper management thinks our members want and reality. I think that the city hall type meeting, more focus groups, and blogging will go a great distance to changing some of those misguided perceptions.