Gene's Note: The Opportunity of Change

I have always seen change as an opportunity to discover and learn. Yet, many people I know only experience  fear when they think about change. My financial services career started in the late 70’s and over the years, I have seen considerable change. One of my first jobs was as a weekend courier for a bank. Each Sunday I would meet a driver from Portland in Eugene and then deliver stacks of green bar computer reports that would be used by the branches for the rest of the week. By Friday of each week, we were relying on customer data that was at least a week old. As a teller, I would have to manually dig through these reports to determine if I could cash a check or make a cash withdrawal for one of our customers. The process was slow and cumbersome. But, our customers accepted the service limitations because the processes had been the same for years.

In the 80’s, when I started my credit union career, we had data processing systems with current balance and transaction data, but every loan document was still produced on a typewriter. The simple process to type a loan document without errors could take up to an hour or more. In the 90’s, we debated the value of a credit union website for our members, and I didn’t have a work e-mail account until the mid-90’s. In the 2000’s, technological advancement was spurred by Y2K and credit unions took great leaps in creating member convenience through electronic services as we saw the rapid growth of households with personal computers. Internet banking became common place and consumers began to take personal control of their finances. With the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007, the future of financial services was forever changed. With the emergence of the smart phone, multiple platforms were developed to take advantage of the mobility that was now available.

It is hard to believe that it has only been a little over 11 years since the iPhone was introduced. Yet, the change in the world and financial services is directly tied to the rapid growth in the capability of a device that you now hold in your hand. A device that is conservatively estimated to be 100 million times more powerful than the computer in the Apollo 11 capsule. There is an incredible battle being waged by technology providers to utilize that power to create better, faster, and more convenient financial services. As a credit union, many of our members have asked for better mobile service options. They want more robust online and mobile banking platforms…they want us to keep up with the pace of change and create financial mobility than we could have only dreamed of just 10 years ago.

With that desire to keep up comes change! I have heard from members that that we are changing too fast. They would like us to do business like we did in the Johnston’s garage so many years ago when the credit union first started. If we did that we would only be open a few hours a day…a few days a week. We wouldn’t have checking accounts and you would have to wait for a loan decision for a couple of days until the loan committee could get together to approve your loan. We would not be here today if we still did business the way we did in the Johnston’s garage.

Your Board has challenged me to ensure the long-term success of the credit union. In order to ensure that success, we have to move forward and make bold member focused change. Change that will create additional convenience, value, and opportunity. We will be introducing a new and upgraded Online Banking this month that will allow us to keep up with the rapid pace of technology advancement. Yet, some may be hesitant or apprehensive of this change. I hear you and want you to know that our team worked hard to find a system that is simple to use, while at the same time powerful enough to take advantage of the digital service tools that are available today.

I know that what many of you see as an inconvenience for today, is your credit union’s opportunity to secure our future. We are committed to our branch network and know that it is the mainstay of our member focused service strategy. However, we know that you also expect strong digital solutions. To support that growth, we are introducing the online banking tools that will provide our members the convenience necessary to meet your growing digital needs.

To ensure a smooth transition to our new online banking tools, our teams are prepared to help you navigate the new system. They are committed to making this process as seamless as possible for you and they stand ready to assist you. Please join with me in embracing the opportunity to ensure the long-term future of your credit union by implementing solutions that allow us to keep pace with the changing digital needs of our current and future members.

 

Thank you for your loyalty to your credit union!