Tuesday, May 27, 2008

FREE Webinars, Hosted by Filene's Sabbatical Team

Credit unions all over the world are innovating and you can, too. We're hosting free Webinars in June to show how three Filene i3 innovations: MatriMoney, Savings Revolution, and Prize-Based Savings have worked in other credit unions and how they can work in yours, too. If you have read this blog before, than you have already read about some of the great things that credit unions are doing with these three projects. Come here why they are successful and what your credit union can do.

You can register for the Webinars by emailing me at kentsugg@filene.org. Send me an email with your name, credit union, and session that you'd like to attend. Do it today because space is limited.

June 6th at 10:30
June 9th at 2:30
June 11th at 10:30

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You're strong, but are you i3 strong...

Denise Gabel and the Filene Research Institute are looking for creative, intelligent, and savvy innovators to join their i3 program. They have 12 spots available in 2008 and you can be one of them. The three year term serves the needs of Credit Unions by focusing on ideas, innovation, and implementation is an amazing opportunity.

This position is for all types of Credit Union people. They need CFOs as much as they need Marketers and Operations Gurus. I have had the opportunity to work with dozens of i3 folks over the past 5 months, and I can tell they are top notch. If you want to help make a difference in the Credit Union movement on a national scale, this is the group to join.

They are accepting application from now until May 27. So click on the link and go apply today.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Mis-quotes, status-quos, and mentors...

I apologize for the length, I had several thoughts to share...

Two days ago, I found out that my interview with the CU times, turned into an article. Awesome!! Unfortunately, the quote of the day, wasn't a quote after all.

George Hofheimer pulled together three "Gen Yers" to help him present on Credit Union 2.0 at the TCUL annual meeting this past month. Amy Stanton, AVP/Marketing from Connex CU, Trey Reeme, Director of Channel Integration from TDECU, and myself co-presented and fielded questions from a group largely full of Boomers and Baby Boomers. The presentation was great, we had some awesome questions, and we were able to answer a few questions about "our" generation.

Evidently we made enough waves that we got the attention of the CU times. The article "Generation Y breaks the news to Texas CU and League Executives: 'You're Boring' " made a few shock waves. Not the boring part, but instead the misquote:

Reeme, the former executive vice president of Trabian, a Plano, Tex., marketing agency, also suggested that those 60-plus-year-old directors looking at the industry’s future should seriously consider stepping down to make way for a generation more connected to new technology.

Why is Trey thoughts not in quotation marks you might ask? Well, he didn't say it. When I saw that Trey said the CU industry is boring, I thought well, yea, you might be able to say that. But to suggest that all 60+ Board members should step down. Well, that one threw me for a loop. At the presentation Trey had several of his own CU's 60+ Board members present. And that wasn't the message at all.

So after you read the article. What does it come down to? Here are my thoughts on this issue, straight from my keyboard to your computer screen. I only have one issue with how most Boards are ran in the CU industry. And like Trey I don't suggest that the majority of CU board members (which are likely 60+) can't run a CU that successfully attracts and meets the needs of Gen Y.

1. Credit Union boards are comprised of volunteer individuals that are elected to represent the CU membership and their purpose is to set and reassess the direction of their CU.

My issue: The Board is very often elected by acclamation, because all positions run unopposed. The Nominating and Election Committee for the board, will do what they are comfortable with. If a board member is up for reelection, they renominate them. In the event that a Board member retires, resigns, or dies, the Nominating and Election Committee, will elect one of their own to replace them. Therefore, no "new blood" ever can get in. But with all that being said, how can I expect the N&E committee to go looking for 30 year olds that are qualified to get on the Board AND actually want to sit through a board meeting. The challenge is there.

How can we resolve it: I am not sure I have the magic suggestion to change it. Lets say, I left TFCU for a job outside the industry (won't happen.) I would immediately pursue a nomination and election to the Board. First, with my application, would the N&E committee nominate me. Not likely if one of their own is up for re-election. Second, I would need to get 500 signatures (varies based on CU bylaws) on my petition for nomination (I could pull this off.) Third, looking at the voting members present at the meeting, who would vote for me over a renominated member. All that being said, my quote in the article is right on:

“Look, my whole family life has been about my credit unions, my mom works in one, but I also see how difficult change is in credit unions,” said Sugg who said he would “absolutely love to be on a credit union board” though he knows that may not happen soon based on CU governance. (I should mention that the quote is pretty accurate, but I never start a sentence with "look")

I am also contributed with:

Sugg of Tinker said he too agreed with Reeme’s general assessment, but he said the “status quo and atmosphere” problems emanate from aging boards. “How can you justify attracting a young membership when you have board members all over 60?” asked Sugg.

As I told the reporter after he asked for my response to Trey saying the industry is "boring," I said that "I wouldn't say that it is boring, but I would say that we don't like to challenge the status-quo, as it is something that we are comfortable with." The vast majority of all corporations and Financial Institutions maintain "older" boards. They attract young people all the time. Getting a voice and an understanding on the board of who our Generation is the important part, replacing them isn't justifiable. Change is difficult and slow. Gen Y is definitely difficult, but we change (for the better) on the fly.

Does your CU board represent your membership base? It goes back to what CU's were founded on. The founders challenged the status-quo and made something better. To make something stronger the best thing to do is challenge it. To make the board even stronger challenge it. If the members remain the same, great, if they are challenged than that means the right people are there.

I recently talked at our local chapter meeting in March. My main topics was that I hope that all of those 60+ somethings that are getting close to retiring, make a huge effort to pass on all of their experience and knowledge to the younger generations. Young managers and leaders like myself didn't get to experience the last 30-40 years on the CU movement, we can't read about it in history books, we need to learn about it from today's leaders so that we can be better leaders, tomorrow. Our Board and leadership is the best resource to future leaders for learning and growth. As we develop learning the past experiences is an important part in creating the future.

Learn from the past, experience in the present, grow for the future!!

Disclaimer: This post is reflective of my thoughts and concerns. It doesn't reflect the thoughts, opinions, or ideals of The Filene Research Institute or Tinker Federal Credit Union or any of their employees or representatives (other then me of course.)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So Kent, What Do You Do?

That is the question that has been posed to me by just about everyone at TFCU over the past 4 months. The scary thing. My wife asked me this last week. And I give her a daily recap, every day!!

Here is a typical Q & A of a conversation that follows the "titled" question:
(For the purpose of this conversation, we will call the employee I am talking to Ben)

Ben: So Kent, what are you doing now?
Kent: I am on a Radical Sabbatical with the Filene Research Institute, focused on implementing some really innovative projects that their i3 teams created.
Ben: Um, Okay...
Kent: Filene is a organization that supports the Credit Union Movement through open source innovation and academic research. I am helping them focus on implementing the innovation. So I am talking with credit unions about why the three projects that I am working on are so cool. TFCU loaned me to them for 6 months.
Ben: So what do you actually do?
Kent: I work on the Internet a lot, and I am on the phone a lot. I work with Maureen from Madison, she is basically a mentor, teaching me a whole bunch of stuff, she does most of the writing and stuff, while I host a blog, call CUs, and keep track of all the people we talk to. We are a very good balance for each other. She keeps me focused, I keep her from focusing too much. What we do changes a bunch, but we basically just put all our efforts into pushing our projects forward in implementation.
Ben: So do you travel and stuff?
Kent: Yea, I travel some. I have been few places for meetings with Filene, but I have also been able to go and tell people about the projects and about the cool things that Filene is doing.
Ben: Do you like it?
Kent: I love it. I have met some amazing people in the Credit Union movement. I am working with a team from the 30 under 30 group with Filene focused on Gen Y. I have met people at CUNA, CUES, the World Council, Texas CUL, oh and I have made about 30 new friends on twitter.
Ben: Twitter?
Kent: Yea, it is like a super IM. I have group conversations with CU people from all over. Alberta, Canada, Maine, Cali, Texas, Wisconsin, Washington, North Carolina, and more. It is a cool way to talk about things going on in the CU world, without leaving my desk.
Ben: So what are you going to do when your 6 months are over?
Kent: I don't know. I will be done in June, and I will be back focused strictly on TFCU. Whatever I do, I know that I want to maintain all my contacts from Twitter and other social media. I also know that I have seen a lot of really cool things, that could really help TFCU. It's awesome being a part of something as big as the Credit Union Movement.
Ben: Cool. (Walks off and stops to talk to his buddy Ryan)

Ben to Ryan: "See I told you, Kent just plays on the Internet all day, he even said something about that cartoon character Tweety."

So What do I do?? Simply put, for 6 months, Maureen and I are doing everything possible to move the needle of implementation for MatriMoney, Prize-Based Savings, and the Savings Revolution.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Washington DC and Houston

Over the past two weeks I have had the opportunity to do some cool things.

Washington D.C. -

Last week, I was able to experience the i3 meetings first hand. I must say when Denise Gabel puts on a meeting, she gets stuff done.

-Sunday night, we attended a great performance of "Shear Madness," which relates well to innovation.

-Then Monday we were able to see the results of the hard work that the i3 teams have been doing for the last 6 months. I am happy to announce that there are going to be some great new ideas coming down the pipeline that will greatly assist CUs in helping their members. Look for the new publications from Filene for details. I have spoken with many of the team members on the phone about our projects, and now meeting most of them, I am happy to say that the collective wisdom, experience, and innovative thinking is outstanding. I look forward to seeing more and more great things come out of the team.

- Tuesday morning we had the opportunity to talk with two of NCUA's board members. Vice-Chairman Rodney Hood and Board Member Gigi Hyland both of them were excellent speakers and spent a lot of time answering our questions. The NCUA doesn't always get a good rep, because as the regulator they have to be the bad guy sometimes, but I must say if their leadership says anything, there are an amazing asset to the Credit Union Movement, one that we cannot allow to get lost within other regulators as proposed by the U.S. Treasury.

Houston -

I just got back into the office today after spending yesterday in Houston, at the Texas Credit Union League Annual Meeting, speaking with George Hofheimer, Trey Reeme, and Amy Stanton, to about 100 daring participates about Credit Union 2.0, Innovation, 30 under 30, and Social Media. After our presentation we participated in an excellent discussion about Gen Y, and Social Media. I feel that it was a very effective presentation.

Ahhh, now back to work helping credit unions implement innovation.

"The Prize is Right"

WEOKIE CU in Oklahoma City, implemented an awesome Prize-Based Savings Account on April 1.

There new program simply enhances their basic membership savings account. All members already qualify. To gain an entry the member must add an additional $50 to the average daily balance during the month. They are giving away a total for $5000 to 30 winners each month. This program is an excellent way to give back to their members as well as get members to save more money each month. For members of WEOKIE, there is no reason why they shouldn't deposit at least $50 which can be done via automatic transfer or any number of ways.

Again congrats to Weokie on such a great job implementing the idea. Based on their structure I think the success of the product will be great.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Headin' to the Capital City...

Well it is Friday and I leave bright and early Sunday morning on my way out to Washington D.C. I am excited about the opportunity to meet another group of amazing Credit Union innovators as I get to meet the i3 teams. There will be several new and amazing credit union innovations presented and I look forward to seeing what is next in line for the Credit Union Movement.

I will have a post for everyone next week with my thoughts from the experience. I will also let you know about some additional great things that are happening with the Savings Revolution.

Until then...have a great weekend!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

MatriMoney...What else?

Over the past few months, I have been able to talk to dozens of credit union professionals about the great projects that I am working on. The ideas are always well accepted. What we have seen, specifically with MatriMoney is that the oppurtunity and potential use doesn't only exist within the wedding registry idea, but it could be adapted for baby registrations, Quinceaneras, high-school graduations, college graduations, or really any other major life event that gives someone the opportunity to ask their family and friends for gifts.

The great thing about the MatriMoney idea and what it holds, is that operationally there isn't a whole lot that goes into it. The way that it functions and the way that it is marketed, is the key. So to enhance the idea and change it to benefit another "big event" for a member's life, really isn't quite that difficult. Credit unions can use this idea to meet several needs of their members, without limiting it to just the newlyweds.

Isn't innovation fun...projects don't get built and stop, they continue to evolve as the need changes and/or grows.

Here's to innovation!!!!

P.S. Everyone have a great Easter Weekend.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Savings Challenge meet the Financial Makeover

Community America Credit Union in Kansas City, MO has taken the concept of the Savings Challenge and given it a make-over, a Financial Makeover to be exact.

After the successful pilot of the Savings Challenge at GECU in 2007. Three credit unions decided to join the Savings Revolution and hold Savings Challenges of their own. A+ FCU in Austin, TX and Connex CU in New Haven, CT both implemented their own Savings Challenges for 2008. Community America CU put a little different spin on things. They took the concept and applied a little of their own flavor to it. The Financial Makeover was born.

The concept is still the same. They are helping four families meet their financial goals. As you can imagine each family doesn't have exactly the same goal. Instead Community America is helping them meet the goals that will improve their financial well-being. The Morrows are working towards "Budget Management," the Weinands are working on "Long-term Planning," the Carmichaels are in "Financial Recovery," and the Blinzlers are "Regaining Control." WOW, each family is going to be making changes in their lives to drastically improve their financial well-being.

And guess what.....you can follow along, because each family is going to blog about it. That's right social media at its finest, connecting real credit union members to, well, real credit union members.

I would encourage you to check out their stories, what they have experienced, and the motivation that they have to make a change in their lives. Do you have members just like these four amazing families? I will bet you do. What is your credit union doing to help them make a change?

Like several others, Community America figured it out!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Way to go Neighborhood CU!!

Neighborhood CU in Dallas, TX is on the ball when it comes to innovation....in more ways than one.

In addition, to being one of the early implementors of the Prize-Based Savings program, Neighborhood CU is also leading by example with the services that they provide to their baby boomer members. Neighborhood CU was mentioned on the Today show as a credit union that is a great deal for baby boomers. The feature was on how banks are catering their services to meet the needs of baby boomers, and Neighborhood CU was one of those featured institutions.

Click here to see a video clip of the show.

During the "Money" section of The Today Show, Jean Chatzky their financial editor, was telling them about great deals for baby boomers. While mentioning a few banks and the services that they provide, she also mentioned that there are several credit unions that are doing thing for baby boomers. She specifically mentioned Neighborhood CU and that in additon to giving their members several free services, they also throw in a trip.

Nice work Neighborhood CU!!