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Thought Leadership

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The Single Must-have Attribute of a Successful Team

Posted by Scott Butterfield on January 8, 2018 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (1)

Sometimes it feels odd to contemplate the lack of trust that exists in the credit union space. Pre-hire criminal background checks, credit checks, references, and the required insurance bonding – one might assume anyone who could pass these “trust” tests would naturally add to an abundance of trust. But there are different dimensions of trustworthiness. The bottom line: “your trustworthiness is your commitment to fulfill another’s trust in you.”


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The Top 3 Direct Loan Growth Strategies for 2018

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2017 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

The 2017 strategic planning season is ending. During the year, we facilitated dozens of strategic-planning sessions with credit unions of all shapes and sizes: small and large, rural and urban, community and single-sponsor charters. We were exposed to a wide range of unique credit union opportunities and challenges. We also took note of several reoccurring themes. The most common? Credit union desire to focus LESS on indirect member and loan growth and MORE on direct member and loan growth st...

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Is Your Brand a Line in the Sand?

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2017 at 1:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Your brand consists of the perceptions and images that represent your credit union. Many credit union leaders think of their brand only as a logo or tagline, but a meaningful brand is so much more. Your brand is the promise of what you’ll deliver, your members’ experience, and most importantly, what your organization stands for.

Where do you draw the line?

The line in the sand metaphor denotes a point (physical, decisional, etc.) beyond which ...

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Who Needs You Today?

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2017 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

The credit union movement was founded on the principle of service.

We’ve all heard the phrases:

  • Not for profit, not for charity, but for service.
  • People helping people.
  • The real job of a credit union is to prove, in modest measure, the practicality of the brotherhood of man.

Credit union history teaches us that the ideal of service means more than better rates, lower fees, and friendly service. My experience as ...

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Credit Union Soup for the Soul

Posted by Scott Butterfield on September 11, 2017 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

I was in Connecticut last week to join friends at Members Credit Union and Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union in celebrating their recent National Juntos Avanzamos (Together We Advance) Award (more on that in a minute). I couldn’t help but smile when I noticed via a lobby directory that Members Credit Union shares a building with the famous Chicken Soup for the Soul authors. I immediately thought about how credit union work could be considered food for the soul.

For t...

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The Road Less Travelled to Membership Growth

Posted by Scott Butterfield on September 11, 2017 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (0)

It’s strategic planning season for many of us; a time for reassessing our environment and revisiting our strategic themes to ensure we are heading down the right road.

The competition is fierce. Most of us prefer an uncontested market space, but the reality is that many of us operate in hyper-competitive markets, fighting for dominance. But the payday for those credit unions that take the right road and find their niche is deeper consumer demand, greater organic growth...

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Is Your Heart Really In it?

Posted by Scott Butterfield on September 11, 2017 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Last month, former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer resigned after running the company for about five years. She resigned because Verizon’s $4.48 billion acquisition of Yahoo officially closed, netting her a $23-million payout.

At a conference in London, Mayer said that one of the things she was looking forward to in her post-Yahoo life was “using Gmail again.” Presumably, as CEO of Yahoo, she had to use Yahoo Mail. She was widely criticized for the remark...

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CUs Trapped in the Thick of Thin Things

Posted by Scott Butterfield on September 11, 2017 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Spend as much time with credit union boards and management teams as I do and you’ll learn that far too many credit union leaders spend too much time focused on the “thin” operational things and not enough time and thought on the “thick” strategic things.

The thick important things are the mission, vision, and values that define us. The thick is the bold strategies that inspire us to move forward and motivate meaningful engagement. It’s a f...

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Change the Complexion of Your Board

Posted by Scott Butterfield on September 11, 2017 at 7:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Diversity among your directors provides a competitive advantage.

Democratic membership representation is a hallmark of the credit union movement. Common-bond groups long have elected people from among their ranks to serve as their voice in credit union decisions.

These volunteers understood first-hand their constituency’s needs because they were part of the same socioeconomic demographic.

But the makeup of many credit union bo...

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Capitalizing on Credit Card Growth

Posted by Scott Butterfield on June 4, 2017 at 10:40 PM Comments comments (1)

The opportunities for credit union loan growth haven’t been this good for a very long time. According to the CUNA Mutual March 2017 Trends Report[1] (January 2017 data), overall, credit union loan balances rose 0.9 percent in January (better than the 0.4-percent pace reported in January 2016) and 11.5 percent during the past 12 months. Credit union seasonally-adjusted annualized loan growth reached 12.8 percent in January of 2017 – the fastest pace since January of 2000.

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The Three Most Important Strategic Questions

Posted by Scott Butterfield on June 4, 2017 at 10:35 PM Comments comments (0)

It’s that time of year again when many of us are finalizing arrangements for annual strategic planning meetings. Besides nailing down the right venue and getting calendar confirmations from each of our board members, our thoughts turn to weightier matters and questions, such as “where do we go from here?”

In preparation of the event, questions are asked, challenges considered, and opportunities identified in order to determine the best mix of content and fo...

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Wisdom and The Island of Misfit Toys

Posted by Scott Butterfield on June 4, 2017 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (2)

Those of you from my generation are sure to remember the 1964 animated TV special, “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

In this classic tale, Sam the Snowman narrates the story of Rudolph, a reindeer who is born with a glowing red nose. His father – Santa’s lead reindeer, Donner – feels ashamed, and uses a special cover to hide Rudolph’s nose so that he can join in the Reindeer Games. During some horseplay, the cover on Rudolph’s nose p...

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CUs are doubling down on the Latino and immigrant market

Posted by Scott Butterfield on February 23, 2017 at 6:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I’m writing this article in response to a recent announcement titled, “Anti-immigration proposals work against economic growth goals” posted by Cathie Mahon, President/CEO, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (the Federation), Maria J. Martinez, President, NLCUP and CEO, Border Federal Credit Union, and Miriam De Dios, CEO, Coopera.

First, I’d like to recognize all three of the authors and their organizations for the great work ...

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Zen, The art of credit union leadership

Posted by Scott Butterfield on February 23, 2017 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

It can be exhausting to review a credit union’s to-do list. I’m talking about that long laundry list of everything a credit union team has committed to for the year. It’s interesting to review these lists alongside their owners. All too frequently some items have little to do with the credit union’s key strategic priorities. I see this conflict all the time.


Sometimes there is debate over whether or not something on the list will have a m...

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Small Credit Unions, The Silent Majority

Posted by Scott Butterfield on February 23, 2017 at 6:10 PM Comments comments (0)

In many ways, today’s small credit unions resemble the “little guy” the credit union movement fights so hard to recognize and serve. As of September, 71.9 percent of our 5,966 credit unions are considered “small,” with assets of less than $100 million. Last year, I personally visited more than 35 small credit union boards and management teams for strategic planning sessions, credit unions located across the country in both urban and rural environments, and repres...

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Politics, credit unions, and my dad's hands

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2016 at 10:25 PM Comments comments (0)

It’s been a month since the election, and like many people I’m still shaking my head, trying to make sense of what it will all mean. Before I get into this too deeply, I should state for the record that I supported neither candidate and spent Election Day knowing full well I was going to be disappointed, regardless of the outcome. I’ve never been a straight party-ticket person, as I tend to see many different sides to an argument, but it’s become even more challenging ...

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To Err Is Human; To Innovate, Divine

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2016 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Late last month at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., a much-anticipated NFL matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals left football fans across the country shaking their heads – some in amazement, some in disgust. The game was a defensive masterpiece between division rivals, neither team having scored a single touchdown when it went into overtime tied at six.

For those who don't follow football, overtime scoring is confusing and mercile...

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NCUA: Thy right hand dost not know thy left

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2016 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Disorganization and contrary schools of thought are not uncommon within organizations, especially large ones. The idiom “the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing” is often used to describe these situations. Sometimes these occurrences are harmless, easily corrected, and don’t create much harm. In other situations, great harm can occur to the people subjected to the disorganization, as well as to the organization that is disorganized.

I ...

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Your legacy, and the changing of the credit union guard

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2016 at 10:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a difficult time seeing credit union friends nearing the end of their career and heading off into retirement. Over the years, I’ve been blessed to work with some remarkable credit union people, amazing people who helped me and set a great example for me to follow. Friends like Bob Schumacher. I had a difficult time seeing Bob retire (although it’s great to still see his mug on some of the CUDE workshop posts). Bob, or “Schu&...

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Are you ready to protect and grow your loan portfolio in 2017?

Posted by Scott Butterfield on December 7, 2016 at 7:55 PM Comments comments (0)

As many of us enter peak strategic planning season, now is the time to assess our loan portfolios and field of membership to identify the greatest opportunities for growth and profitability. One key driver? The world of new and used auto loans.

Recent Q2 2016 trend reports indicate the space continues to be a strong source of loan growth for credit unions. In fact, the data reveals:

1. Credit Unions experienced the largest year-over-year growth of outstanding loan bala...

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