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!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

MatriMoney...how do you want it??

We are looking at two ways to get MatriMoney to the members?

Again I want to know what you prefer, and which your CU is more likely to grab onto. There are two ideas behind MatriMoney and what it can/should look like.

The first: Is the traditional CU implementation of MatriMoney. The CU will pick it up, they will use the established brand name and maybe even some consistent collateral, but how it will be handled will be based solely on the discretion of the CU. Have a look at North Island CU and Mountain America CU, they have both established some excellent MatriMoney wedding registry programs. Both are prime examples of an example implementation of MatriMoney at a CU. It certainly serves the purpose of the member, and that is the ultimate goal.

But here is a little bit bigger idea. Lets say that a a CUSO or some other CU oriented organization wanted to pick up and develop MatriMoney into a very in depth online registry. The members can establish goals, they will receive common collateral, and this will allow for online deposits to the account via Credit/Debit Card, ACH, and auto-drafts. So potentially Aunt Suzie in Germany who can't fly in for the wedding, can go online and deposit a gift without leaving home. You are thinking, well that is cool, but where is the CU involved?? The idea is that any and all CUs that want to participate will be able to "link up" with the MatriMoney website. The CU will actually be the account custodian, not the website, the website just provide a detailed online tool, to gather deposits for the account. So the individuals would be required to be members of a participating CUs to use the product. This would allow members who go to their CU to get the account and individuals that just heard about it and want to get it, can join a CU locally that they qualify for. (New member acquisition)

So that wasn't exactly easy to put in type, but I think you should be able to grasp the concept. In respect to what we are doing, we will continue to find and help CUs implement MatriMoney on a CU level, but we are also exploring the idea of finding a partner to develop the project to meet a much larger potential.

So I want your thoughts!!! As a CU rep, do you think that your CU would be more likely to take this develop and implement it themselves? OR Would they choose the other path, that is likely quicker, with less required development and join in on the much larger scale? What fits your CU best? What do you think is the potential for MatriMoney?

I look forward to your feedback it will be very useful moving forward. Thanks!!!

Chance at Large Prize or a Garunteed Small Prize

Which do you and/or your CU prefer for a Prize-Linked Savings account??

As we continue to develop the Prize-Linked Savings (PLS) concept, we are looking at two different avenues for the prize. I want to know which is better in your opinion, which appeals to you more, and if you represent a CU, which will most appeal to your membership?

***Not sure what a PLS is? Let me give you the basis of the PLS in one 3 short sentences. PLS is the idea that members are more likely to save money if they are given a chance to win a prizes and/or a large cash prize. For every (insert $ amt. here) they deposit to their PLS they get an entry into the drawing for the prizes for that month, quarter, and year. Okay now back to my question...

The first (traditional) construct of the product, is to have monthly prizes of vary value that range from several at $20, $50, $100, and even one at $1000. Of course in many cases, prizes such as iPods, TVs, etc., fill in for cash prizes. Then there is a larger quarterly prize, and an annual prize of $10k to $15k, depending on the CU. This prize is guaranteed and will be given away to one lucky member.

The second construct is a chance at a much larger prize. Say for each entry the member has a 1 in 1 million chance at winning $100k at the end of the year. This prize is not only non-guaranteed but the chance of someone/anyone winning it is very small. In addition to this large non-guaranteed prize they will also be able to similar monthly prizes as in the traditional construct.

So the main difference is that the CU can either give a member $10k or they can underwrite a chance to win $100k. So which do you prefer, if there will be smaller prizes won, would you rather play and be guaranteed that someone would get the $10k, or would you rather play and know that you have a chance to win $100k, an amount that most likely will not be given to anyone.

Which do you prefer? Which is a better fit for your CU? Which would your membership prefer? Thanks for the insight.

P.S. Your opinion could have an impact on how this product develops in the future.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Bring on the Implementation

So I finally make it up to Madison, WI, the center of CU world and otherwise known as "Mad City." The very first thing on my list of to-dos over the next 2 days is walk on the frozen lake. In Oklahoma, lakes dry up in the summer, they don't freeze in the winter. But being the dare devil that I am and seeing all the crazy ice-fisher guys out in their little tents, I brave the cold and ice and find myself on the frozen lake, alone and cold.

I will say that the trip did get a bit warmer, I got to meet dozens of great credit union people. I had the pleasure of touring the Credit Union Center, CUES, and even a little of downtown. I have two thoughts that stuck out more than anything from my tours:

First: The Credit Union Movement changes lives. I used to think it just consumed them for people like myself, but it really does change lives. While touring the World Council, I was able to see what all we do for people who are truly impoverished. If you are not already supporting the World Council in some way, I challenge you to do so. The Credit Union Movement makes differences in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. I hope one day 40 years from now I can look back and know that I was a part of something so huge.

Second: Credit unions can make a difference and they can change. What credit unions have done in the past is amazing, what we are doing the present is awesome. But if we want to do more then just exist in the future, but really expand to provide great and fair services to people all over. We need to not just talk about change, and admire change, but we must make change happen. The world is changing at a sprint, credit unions can't take baby steps and think that they will keep up. I challenge you to not just talk about change but embrace it and keep the Credit Union Movement moving forward.

I want to say thanks to Maureen for setting up such an action packed 2 days in Madison. I got to meet alot of great people that I look forward to working with in the future. I believe that we as a movement can make a difference in millions of lives that don't know what a credit union is yet. "People helping People" is what we were founded on, and it is what we will continue to do.

How do we make a difference, how do we make change happen? You guessed it, IMPLEMENTATION. That's where you come in...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Deal or No Deal

I have no doubt that all of you have heard of this new game show by now. It is like "Who wants to be a Millionaire?" without the tough questions, just tough yes or no decisions. All you do is play a game of luck and chance, with the ability to make an educated decision. My wife loves the show, I do to a point. I find it very intriqueing to see the process that someone goes through to make the decision of when to sell their case, as most of them do. Even during the current "Million dollar Mission" where half of the board has $1,000,000 in the cases. The person has a 50/50 chance of getting a million. yet nobody wins the million, even those that have it in their case, sell it becuase they would rather be garunteed several hundred thousand then they would take the risk of getting next to nothing if they pick the wrong case.

Why do we also settle on less instead of take the chance to lose it all? Here is a few suggestions.

The always popular proverb "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush;" is ingrained into our minds and grabs hold of us. Wonder why this is, well the proverb has lasted about 2500 years, and has variations in almost a dozen languages. It is found in one of Aesop's fables, a hawk seizes a nightingale, who pleads for its life, arguing that it is too tiny a morsel to satisfy a hawk. The hawk replies, "I would be foolish to release the bird that I have in my hand to pursue another bird that is not even in sight."
(I recently learned of its origin in the book that I am reading. Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. I am not much of a reader but this book has captured me.)

Would you trade $100,000 for a 1 in 5 chance at winning $1,000,000.??

I would bet that almost all of you would rather take the garunteeed $100k instead of a 20% chance at a million. I would.

Life is risky in so many ways, but when an individual is provided a garuntee, it holds much more value than a good chance at something much bigger.
So now we know why NBC hasn't given away their million dollars yet. How does this relate to the Credit Union movement? Well I think it is interesting to see how individuals will take risks with their money, but when it comes down to the end and the ultimate risk is there, they almost always settle for the safe answer. Credit Unions can provide the best of both worlds. We can be the safe alternative to other riskier asset accumulation methods, but we can use an individuals willingness to take risks to help them save money. That is the idea behind products like a Prize-Based Savings account. We appeal to the risky side while providing nothing but a safe place to store their money.

By the way. My wife and Mom want me to submit an application to be on the show, I think it might be a good idea, the only problem, is that I might be the first person, that refuses to deal money with a banker. I am more of a Credit Union guy. And they don't want to buy my box back, they want to help me get to that million dollars.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Prize Based Savings

It's not Gambling because there is nothing to lose

The Filene i3 group has an innovative idea that Credit Unions can encourage non-traditional savers to do just that SAVE. Well we are going to appeal to motives that usually cost someone money, not teach them to save it. The idea of a Prize Based Savings appeals to people who gamble or play the lottery, but it has absolutely nothing do with that.

A 2005 survey commissioned by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) and the Financial Planning Association® (FPA) discovered that nearly 40% of low-income earners think it is more practical for them to accumulate significant savings by winning the lottery than by actually following a systematic plan for saving. Seriously if this isn’t an opportunity then I don’t know what is.

The Prize Based Savings can be developed many different ways, but the basics of it, is for every (insert amount of $) deposit a member makes they will get an entry for a monthly, quarterly, and/or yearly prize. This will encourage them to save because they have a much better chance to win at this than they do to win the lottery. But the key is that it teaches them to save money. Something that they likely were unable to do before.

There are a few different versions currently on the market: FORUM CU’s Weekly 5 Club, Neighborhood CU’s Prize Savings Account, and Centra CU’s Super Savings. All of which are tweeked differently to work best for their memberships.

As Credit Unions our job is to provide the best products and services to our members at the lowest cost. We do a great job. People all over the world find it impossible to save, as a Credit Union we need to do what we can to encourage and teach our members to save so that they are prepared for life’s challenges. This is a way that CU’s can do just that.


A way for an engaged couple to ask for cash…without asking for cash.

What is this idea, MatriMoney? Simply put, it is a wedding gift registry for deposits hosted by a Credit Union. The idea is that a CU would offer a place for an engaged couple to establish a registry that would allow individuals that prefer to give money as gifts, a place to do so. The CU would give the couple a package that has cards with instruction on how to deposit. And on couples statements a list with the names of the depositers beside the deposits so that it becomes an easy and convenient list to make thank you cards with. (Nobody thinks about this until afterwards.)

In today’s world, couples are getting married much later in life. In most cases they have already established a household each or sometimes together. So why would they need a toaster? Instead of getting an iron, they would like to save up for the down payment on a house, or pay for their honeymoon, or furnish a new house. MatriMoney provides a convenient vehicle for couples to ask for cash without asking for cash.

The benefit to the CU is that MatriMoney gives them a service that will build or establish a relationship with both individuals. It will also open the door for cross-sell oppurtunities for other products and services. The newlyweds will be in the middle of combining lives, accounts, income, and the CU is right there offering cool and unique products that they can’t get elsewhere, why would they choose to put their accounts anywhere else. Most often the CU will have already established a relationship with one person in the new family, now they have established a relationship with both, and you have helped them work towards meeting one of their very first joint financial goals. What better way to start a relationship?

MatriMoney was piloted at North Island CU, go check out what they can offer to soon-to-be newlyweds.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's not i2 it's i3

Completing the circle of i3... Ideas, Innovation, and Implementation.

Those are the three i's that the Filene i3 group is based on. But how successful has the i3 team been in meeting those objectives. Take a look at any number of their projects and you can see that they have been very successful at the first two. The i3 group hits extraordinary highs when it comes to creating new innovative ideas that can help Credit Unions expand their services to meet the changing member needs. But it seems there are challenges when it comes to implementation? Phil Smith an i3er from Minnesota coined the title phrase this afternoon, he is absolutely right, it is the Filene i3 group, not i2.

What good is having innovative ideas if those ideas to don't get back to the membership? Filene has been working towards providing the ideas and tools necessary for CUs to implement. Now Filene is stepping up their game. Maureen and I will be putting together proof of concepts for each that make it easier for CUs to take an idea and implement it. Anyone who has worked in the innovation process should know that not all ideas make it to the front-line, but as a CU we need to make sure that we implement as many as we can. Filene and CUs nationwide find themselves in similar circumstances, a whole bunch of a great ideas, without the ability to implement them all. We need to take the best and one by one make them available to the members.

As a Credit Union it should be your mission to make sure that you have the best products and services available to your members, to do this you need to be implementing, because innovation without implementation does nothing for your members.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Savings Revolution

Let's Start a Revolution...

Anytime the word “revolution” is used I immediately think of the destruction and rebuilding of a government. If you look at revolutions in history you see government systems being removed and rebuilt. Take American history for example, the American Revolution caused the destruction of British rule over the colonies and building of a democratic government. So what does this have to do with saving money? The destruction of a savings environment has been happening for a few decades, the reasons that individuals fail to save are numerous: the rising cost of living, value of the dollar, and the need to have more toys then the neighbor. All are reasons that people would rather turn to borrowing than saving. Members ability and motivation to save has eroded overtime.

What can be done about this? For a revolution to take place there has to be rebuilding. The Filene i3 innovators put their brains together and created the idea of a “Savings Revolution.” The Savings Revolution is the idea that through social media and credit-union collaboration, people can change their financial lifestyles to save money and reduce debt.

The family that comes closest to or exceeds its financial targets is named winner and is given a substantial prize usually around $10k. The revolution occurs by other individuals and families seeing the changes that the participating family is making in the challenge and they participate at home, by using online resources or resources at their CU to make changes to their financial lifestyle. Ultimately this will combine savings with reality TV and it will lead to a revolution of how thousands of CU members, and non-members save money.

But will it work?? That is a great question, it is early in its development. GECU of El Paso implemented it in 2007 and they had a lot of success, their deposits and accounts went up, but most importantly they helped countless members change their saving habits. In 2008, there are 4 CUs looking to implement the Savings Challenge.

This is just an introduction to the idea; there will be a lot more about the Savings Revolution in the near future. Teaching members to save should be at the forefront of the Credit Union Movement, how better to do that then through a REVOLUTION!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Who am I?

Who am I:
Good question. Well in my profile it says my name is Kent Sugg. That is true. It also says my profession is banking. Well close, my profession is actually Credit Unioning, and since that wasn’t an option, nor is it a word, I chose banking. I should explain. My business card says that I am a Manager, Member Services at Tinker Federal Credit Union. Most days I carry the title well. But for the next 6 months, it is just my title. Who I actually am is the side-kick to the Director of Innovation Projects for the Filene Research Institute. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, well side-kicks aren’t very important. Well now you know why I kept my title as Manager, Member Services.

Why I am writing this:
For the next 6 months, I will be working on the implementation of a few of the Filene Research Institute’s i3 Innovation projects. Maureen Maddox and I (she is the one with the important title, it’s an experience thing) will be working our tails off from different parts of the country to create and execute implementation strategies for these lucky products. The purpose of this blog is for me to document my experiences with the Sabbatical.

What will I write about:
The vast majority of this blog will be focused on the progress of the three Filene i3 projects: Savings Revolution, Prize-Based Savings, and MatriMoney. It will have tons of information that doesn’t go out in Press Releases about the experiences of Credit Unions in regards to innovation and even more importantly the implementation of all those great ideas. In addition to product information I will talk about my Radical Sabbatical Experience and even a few thoughts on the Credit Union movement.

My Credit Union Experience:
TFCU is the only place I have ever had a savings or checking account. I have worked for TFCU for 5 years. I was previously a teller, Member Service Officer, Teller Supervisor, and most recently a Manager. I have worked on several projects including the GenNext project at TFCU, which will be mentioned in future posts I am sure. I will also be mentioning Southwest CUNA Management School some, as I progress through my Three-Year Strategic Planning Project. Perhaps the biggest honor of my Credit Union career is being elected President of the Class of 2009 at SCMS.

My family history in one paragraph:
I am blessed to be the father of an amazing one-year old boy, Kaven, who has me trained well. I am also proud to report that his favorite word is “dada” and his favorite food Macaroni and Cheese. I met my wife, Thea (pronounced Tia) at TFCU 5 years ago, she wouldn’t go out with me because I was only 19, but we married a year later, so that worked out. She is currently a teller supervisor and aspires to be a stay-at-home mom. My dad is the manager of a glass business, he kicked me out of that line of work at 15, (Thanks Dad!!) so at 18, I went into my mom’s line of work. She is currently the HR Director at a Credit Union in Oklahoma City. She worked for TFCU for several years, and is probably the reason I got hired in the first place. She also did consulting for 5 years with numerous Credit Unions and State Leagues.

Other Disclosures:
So now you know who I am, and what I will talk about. I will go ahead and apologize for my poor grammar and inevitable typos. I welcome all feedback and look forward to getting your opinions on my opinion. Remember even though I will discuss mostly my Research Sabbatical and other subjects as related to the Credit Union movement, the opinions expressed in it are mine and don’t always reflect the opinions of the Filene Research Institute or Tinker Federal Credit Union.