Recently, we hosted with CUInsight a webinar featuring Think|Stack CEO Chris Sachse, AWS Principal Strategist George Estrada, and Chad Ritchie, Chief Information Officer for Ventura Credit Union. They explored the disruptions and member demands driving digital transformation across the credit union industry.

Credit unions, like other financial institutions and businesses across all industries, are rapidly responding to the increased volatility from the pandemic to cyber threats that are impacting the way credit unions operate and changing the demands of members. In a fast-moving world, members are seeking businesses that can be agile and innovative to provide secure, digital experiences. As a highly regulated industry, credit unions are held to a high standard amid complex challenges.

Sachse shared, “We have to put people before technology. Certainly, credit unions need to catch up with the rest of the financial industry, but they can’t add new technology for the sake of technology. They need to understand what drives and motivates the people they serve – employees and members.”

Despite increased cybersecurity risks that could impact the protection of member data, many credit unions have yet to accelerate their digital transformation journey.

According to Ritchie, “It is challenging to construct a digital strategy without a clear vision. It is important that early on, those leading the digital transformation create a compelling picture of the future state of the organization that includes both the member and employee experience. To secure buy-in, leaders need to understand what motivates members, and the changing technology and regulations and what they mean for the way a credit union does business.”

He adds, “Many credit unions have monolithic vendors who are slow to change amidst significant regulatory oversight to secure member data. Members are expecting digital experiences for everything – credit unions are not the exception. Credit unions can’t produce solutions if you’re not listening to those serving.”

Estrada compares the changing expectations within the financial services industry with the disruption the newspaper industry experienced with the introduction of the internet and mobile devices.

“Credit unions have to anticipate where they have to be in the future and how to get there. They have to be able to pivot and move as quickly as they can. What’s the vision? The end state? What do we need to get there?” he shared.

He adds that it’s important to demystify technology and help all stakeholders increase their digital IQ so they understand how the way they work could change and why it will improve their experience.

Ritchie warns that the credit union could become like Blockbuster if they can’t meet the member expectations and prepare a strategy to respond to what is to come in a digital economy. Banking is a chore like shopping or ordering food. Members want these tasks to be easy and intuitive, and access and updates to be available in real time.

Sachse shares that 70% of people polled in a recent survey prefer to bank with a local institution, but don’t because of the lag in technology – not only the experience - consumers are becoming more savvy and want to know their banking institution is providing secure experiences.

“Credit unions used to have to worry about cybersecurity for insurance and regulation requirements, but today it’s also an important way to assure members.”

He shares that the cloud allows dramatically increased speed to market, which is exciting as employees and members look at new opportunities. Speed to market can make the organization more sustainable and prepare it to meet future expectations.

With cloud infrastructure compresses the time from inception to delivery, helping credit unions to be more agile and responsive to a rapidly changing world.