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    Is your credit union an innovation speedboat or tanker?

    February 13, 2020

    “Don’t be the oil tanker, be the speedboat” is the advice that Kate Grant, Director, Fintech Ecosystem at Fintech Growth Syndicate (FGS) gives credit unions in a recent CUbroadcast interview.

    This focus on agility is central in FGS’s vision to accelerate innovation and bolster the fintech ecosystem in Canada, offering strategies and services to both financial institutions and fintechs.

    In fact, FGS recently released a report on credit unions’ opportunity to build member-centric solutions. We spoke with Grant to get some insights into the report and how nimbleness is a competitive advantage.


    Outpacing banks

    Financial institutions of any type are always looking to put their members at the core of their business. However, says Grant, larger FIs, such as banks, struggle to do this due to their size (what she refers to as tankers in her metaphor). Credit unions can succeed with this task because of their agility (the speedboat).

    “By layering in fintech innovation, credit unions can quickly outpace the banks and will be able to implement new technology faster than their counterparts,” says Grant.

    This allows for your credit union to gain better insight on the needs of your members, decrease their pain points (such as long wait times and extra charges), and increase overall experience.


    Meeting the needs of your members

    All credit unions are looking to provide solutions that will ensure member satisfaction and keep their services. The question then becomes how do you know what these solutions are?

    “My advice to credit union leaders: talk to your members, find out what is important to them and innovate based on their needs, not just what you think they need,” Grant says.

    By creating this relationship with your members, not only are you further gaining their trust, you are also creating an experience that is fit for them.

    If your credit union is looking to adopt new services in this new year, here are a few services that FGS suggests credit union members are currently interested in:

    • Split the bill
    • 24/7 access
    • Digital wallet
    • Accounting and expensing
    • Perks and payments
    • Budgeting
    • Investing
    • No FX fees


    If you can deliver these services in a simple, enjoyable and convenient way, it can increase member retention and create new growth. 

    FGS suggests once you have discovered the needs of your members, a great place to start is searching for gaps within the services you’re providing. Check out their Challenger Bank Product Categorization tool to help with this.


    Getting members on board

    Determining the right services to meet your members’ needs is step one. But the more challenging step may be the member change management, says Grant.

    When undergoing changes in an organization, there can often be push back. Members are used to the way things are, and a change to their experience can be scary at first.

    When asked about the process of innovating your credit union to reach your desired point, Grant says, “For credit unions, I believe that having the members on board with the changes will be one of the biggest challenges to overcome, this is why working with your members will be of the utmost importance as you adopt innovation into your credit union”.

    Remind your members that they are the reason you’re making these changes and they are in their best interest. Agility is crucial for credit unions moving forward.

    The needs of members are forever growing, and it is your job to continue to innovate for your members, says Grant.


    Celero and FGS

    In 2018, Celero and FGS formed a collaborative partnership to enable Celero to deepen the connections and expertise available to their clients when forming fintech partnerships. FGS’s leadership offers crucial insights, such as market demands, financial industry trends and fintech partnership guidance to add value to credit unions and their members. In partnership with FGS, Celero has also developed an evaluation and due diligence rubric, ensuring that we are constantly investigating and partnering with fintechs that meet the needs of credit unions and their members today, and anticipate their expectations for tomorrow.  

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