Credit Unions Must Improve Competitiveness in the Covid-19 era and beyond.

Even before Covid-19, the finance industry was rapidly changing and steadily becoming more competitive. This was putting pressure on traditional lenders to evolve, preserve and grow their business, with Credit Unions (CUs) being no exception.

With complications brought on by Covid-19, CUs must now find innovative ways to transform their financial services. They must strategize to remain competitive and continue to serve the needs of its members.

Let us take a quick look at the key elements of strategy CUs should adopt as the movement absorbs the new normal.

Enhancing Leadership and Governance Competencies

Enhancing this aspect of the movement will have challenges. If not effectively strategized, moving forward in this era may only prove to stunt our growth, development and competitiveness.

Critical here is examining and implementing, methods to enhance leadership and governance competencies of policy makers. This could include training workshops and assessments of organizational activities initially formulated to improve (evidence-informed) leadership and governance and improving the movement’s human resource capacity.

Such strategies can foster greater understanding of policy makers and the approach to developing functionality of the movement. This essentially paves the way for:

  • Effective policy guidance

  • Collaboration and coalition building

  • More effective regulation

  • Improved system design and accountability.

The outcome here would be more systematic and standardized processes, leading to improved competencies of leadership and governance.

Using Cloud Based Models

Cloud based models is the evolution of information dissemination and services medium in the world today. It enables users to access ‘self-service’ applications from anywhere in the world, through any web browser.

It is still however not clear to some businesses how the ‘cloud’ can help improve their competitive advantages. CUs must be cognisant of the fact that such systems provide opportunities for delivering a variety of applications to its members, in a way not experienced before.

These virtualized systems contain all software and applications needed to effectively operate a business. They essentially provide models of operation in which service providers are responsible for the ‘hard’ parts in using software:

  • Installation

  • Upgrades

  • Maintenance

  • Backups

  • Security.

This increased reliability and cost decline can result in CUs no longer needing to invest in their own servers or employ staff to take care of them. Instead, they will just pay for services on demand. Critical here is lower overhead and higher speed communications which, without a doubt improves productivity and efficiency. These competitive advantages will be crucial during this era where resources are becoming more and more limited and cost efficiency will become a critical success factor.

Operating in this dynamic environment would however pose a number of challenges for any organisation; but once effectively addressed the many advantages will make the shift justified.

Building and Maintaining Trustworthy Member Relationships In A Cloud-Based Environment

Of the challenges brought on by the Cloud-Based environment, the issues of trust, security and privacy, will no doubt be a challenge to overcome within the CU movement. These must be addressed to be relevant and competitive within the financial industry.

It is therefore important for both user and provider to have mutual trust and assures that issues such as data being unsecure will be neutralized. Thus, there is need for developing trust and reputation management strategy/techniques to foster trustworthy member relationships.

Highlighting Security Protocols

Key part of this strategy, would be emphasizing to members and staff that tools and protocols in place to bring to a minimum this area of concern. It should be stressed that the cloud protects data through mechanisms such as encryption protocols. This greatly minimizes occurrences such as a false user being granted cloud access to uploaded (personal) data.

Cloud Service Audits

Experts in the field believe that that continuous auditing of cloud services is one of the best possible ways to build trust and improve reputation.

Empowering Members through Entrepreneurship and Creating Sustainable Investments

Entrepreneurship and engaging in sustainable investments should be promoted and viewed within the movement as the key alternative to unemployment and poverty.

Entrepreneurs ought to be groomed by our movement to invest in sustainable initiatives as a key part of their business strategy. Critical here would be them being assured that they are investing in progress and hence positioning themselves for faster growth and competitiveness. It will be about them being guided by the movement in pioneering better ways of doing business and creating the momentum for growth.

The CFF will further explore these topics in our upcoming Thought Leadership Series.