MADISON, Wis. (3/28/07)--Credit unions must trust each other and collaborate to survive--especially now when they are faced with diminishing margins, increasing expenses, fierce competition and declining memberships, according to a new report by the Filene Research Institute. The report, “Connecting the Dots on Credit Union Collaboration: A Colloquium at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania,” summarizes the key findings of a 2007 colloquium of academics, practitioners and consultants. The event was sponsored by Filene in conjunction with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Collaboration theories and firsthand experiences were shared among attendees. Colloquium presenters included:
* Harbir Singh, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania; * Kirk Kordelesk, Bethpage FCU, Bethpage, N.Y.; * Lucie Bouchard, Desjardins Group; * Randy Karnes, CU*Answers; * Steve Williams, Cornerstone Advisors; and * Steven Michaels, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The report cites the challenges facing credit unions today as impetus for not only cooperation among credit unions, but for changes in the behaviors and mindsets of industry stakeholders, said Filene. Key findings at the colloquium included: * Information Technology and trust are critical to enabling collaboration; * Egos exist but have to be left at the door, as boards and executives consider large-scale collaboration; * Vendors need to create attractive price points to encourage collaborative efforts; * Collaboration occurs in phases--not leaps--so short-term, feasible goals are a good place to start; * Credit unions need to consider that risk-averse thinking among boards may be more detrimental than taking new calculated risks, including large-scale collaboration; * Credit unions need to share success stories; and * The industry challenges of the last five years--including rising expenses, shrinking margins, declining membership, and competition for market share--are reason enough to proactively seek change. The report also says that while collaboration is essential, it requires change, which isn’t easy, and then cites Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter’s sequential steps for making change stick. The steps are:
* Establish a sense of urgency; * Create a coalition; * Develop a clear vision and share it; * Empower people to clear obstacles; * Secure short-term wins; * Consolidate and keep moving; and * Anchor the change.