Visa Invests In Building The Credit Union Of The Future

The pressures to keep up with rapid innovation in the banking space, changing consumer expectations and economic demands for offering the new capabilities needed to stay competitive in the market are top of mind for credit unions today.

But what if attracting to right talent could help address many of those pain points while also helping credit unions ensure they are equipped to handle whatever else may come next in the future?

Helping credit unions not only attract but hold onto the next generation of young, vibrant and creative professionals is the driving force behind Visa’s new partnerships and initiatives in the credit union space, Doug Leighton, SVP and head of community access for U.S. financial institution sales at Visa, explained.

The global card network announced the Building the Next Generation of Credit Union Leaders initiative, which, in collaboration with the Filene Research Institute and the Credit Union Executive Society (CUES), will help support and strengthen the Credit Union Movement.

The four-year program is aimed at providing a combination of research activities for the industry, professional opportunities for young professionals already within the credit union space today and support for credit union executives looking to take the next step in their careers.

Attracting The Right Talent

Young people entering the workforce today have no shortage of options when it comes to finding employers that will offer them challenging workplace environments.

Unfortunately, working at a credit union may fly under the radar when millennials and the Generation Z generation are seeking employment.

But these are the types of employees that Leighton said credit unions really need — those who are young, creative and closely connected with the needs and expectations of the new generation of members whom credit unions are looking to serve.

“The credit union space is and can be very compelling for people to build their careers. Many younger generations today seek out roles in which they can have more than just a profit motive but also a mission, and the credit union industry is truly mission-driven,” Leighton explained.

“But it’s hard to get the word out because there are a lot of competing entities and industries that are also attractive to people coming out of college.”

Helping credit unions stand out as an attractive and exciting work opportunity for young professionals either coming right out of college or in the early part of their careers is the first pillar of the Building the Next Generation of Credit Union Leaders initiative.

This part of the program includes a continuum of activities that start with the Filene Research Institute’s newest Center of Excellence, called War for Talent. The research initiative helps to drive insights and fill the pipeline for younger people coming into the credit union space by identifying the ways in which credit unions can better compete for attracting talent.

In turn, bringing in new talent allows the credit unions themselves to better connect with their members by providing products, services and customer service that aligns with the needs and expectations of a younger generation of consumers.

“Visa is helping to ensure the long-term health, vibrancy and viability of credit unions by working within the Credit Union Movement to showcase what an interesting and rewarding place credit unions can be,” Leighton noted.

Fostering Growth In Credit Union Professionals

The second part of Visa’s initiative involves its partnership with the Cooperative Trust, which is also a part of Filene, to support a group of young professionals already in the Credit Union Movement, the Crashers.

The Crashers are named as such because they’re there to crash the party — whether at conferences or events, they are there to gain access and exposure to executive decision making and build their network by meeting executives across the credit union landscape.

These young professionals are looking to gain a better understanding of what goes into some of the day-to-day thinking and work of a credit union senior executive, and Leighton said Visa plans to work closely with them to enhance the type of learning and experiences they receive.

This may take place through the fostering of deeper relationships with Visa executives or other efforts designed to continue expanding the role and significance of younger professionals in the credit union industry.

The third and final portion of Visa’s initiative will focus on sponsoring an existing course offered by CUES called the CEO Institute, which is a three-year program for people who are already in senior positions at credit unions to prepare them to take that last step toward becoming a CEO.

Leighton explained that the overall goal of the initiative is to provide a range of activities that can take someone who is presumably not in the credit union space today and expose them to the types of resources that can showcase the value and interesting work credit unions provide and eventually help that person get on the path to senior leadership within a credit union organization.

Fortifying The Credit Union Industry

While the overall health of the credit union industry remains strong, Leighton noted that the sheer number of credit unions is shrinking, especially among the smallest players that are struggling with keep up with the pace of innovation.

“The reality is that for many of these financial institutions and credit unions that’s very difficult when it’s compounded by the regulatory impacts they have, so you’re seeing consolidation amongst the smaller ones,” he explained.

Credit unions both large and small are also dealing with the ongoing challenge of both their member and workforce demographics skewing younger, which means an increased demand for newer, more digital capabilities.

Figuring out how to economically support and understand what members really want and how to serve them in a very competitive market has resulted in this big need for credit unions.

Like any financial institution, credit unions have to service their existing members, many of whom may prefer going to the branch or calling a phone number, as well as ensure they are equipped to service a younger, digitally driven generation, Leighton pointed out.

Balancing those competing needs is why many credit unions are looking to bring in younger professionals who may be able to help these banks meet the needs of a younger generation in need of financial services and a financial institution that understands their expectations.

Leighton said this is why Visa, along with its partners, want to ensure that there’s a path for this great and exciting new talent to gain exposure to the credit union space and discover the Credit Union Movement while also helping a new generation learn why so many people believe it’s a compelling place to be.


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