CU 2.0 Fintech Friday: Coalesce AI

It’s CU 2.0 Fintech Friday! Today, Chris Otey sits down with Coalesce AI to discuss all things credit union, fintech, and digital innovation.

fintech partnerships helps credit unions introduce the power of AI and machine learning into their operational ecosystem. Their platform utilizes User-Defined Machine Learning, which allows clients to train’s automation platform how to gain expertise in a certain set of tasks.’s systems helps credit unions and financial industries reduce error and increase efficiency while saving time. By reducing or eliminating the possibility for human error and the necessity for manual labor, lets ten credit union employees accomplish the work of a hundred.

For credit unions, found that “the operations of a financial services firm like a credit union today requires—especially in the middle and back office—a lot of tedious, manual, repetitive work: opening spreadsheets, scanning emails, filtering through PDF documents. And with this new AI technology, we’ve been able to automate the way that some of that gets done at credit unions.”

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Credit Union Strategic Planning Facilitators Guide

The leaves are falling.  The smell of warm toner is in the air.  Yup – its budget season and credit unions everywhere are diving into credit union strategic planning.  If you hate strategic planning or think off-site workshops that align all of the stakeholders’ interest – then this post is not for you!  However, if you are a credit union board chair, CEO, or the person responsible for selecting a credit union strategic planning facilitator than this post will be helpful.

Credit Union Strategic Planning FacilitatorsStrategy Planning for Credit Unions

‘Every year 3000-4000 credit unions embark on an annual ritual of thinking of the future, determining BHAGs (big hairy audacious goals) and trying to think how our great credit unions might be disrupted.  In our experience having been part of credit union strategic planning sessions at credit unions, fintechs, CUSOs and as management, board, and facilitators – we have seen all sides.  There is nothing worse than a facilitator that doesn’t get our pain points, industry, process, or our underlying challenges from the past.   So here is a guide to 9 credit union strategic planning facilitators that “get it”.

Credit Union Solutions Group (CUSG)

CUSG is a CUSO owned by the Michigan Credit Union League  They do a great job helping credit unions focus on how to restart growth and find the right products and services for your members.   The process includes onsite facilitation, consumer research, business trends and disruptors, peer analysis, and best practices.

Dollar and Associates (Dennis Dollar)

Dennis Dollar is the former board chair of the NCUA.  Dollar Associates are highly knowledgeable on key issues such as mergers, field of membership and other legislative and political issues.  Their credit union strategic planning facilitators follow the SWOT (strength weakness opportunities and threats) approach to planning.  Session included key information on the “condition and future of the credit union industry”


Callahan’s has a long history and background in the credit union industry.   Callahan’s has great peer level data and analytics that will help credit unions see critical insights and industry trend data that helps credit unions plan for the future.


C.Myers is focused on engaging individuals and teams and focuses on the financial services industry.  Their visioning, leadership development and board development are focused on “creating relevancy, sustainability, differentiation” for their clients.

CU Strategic Planning (Mike Beall)

Mike Beall is a well-known expert and credit union knowledge source.  Mike focused on reviewing financials and looking at trends to develop strategies.   Loans, growth and profitability are key components of hiring Mike to be your credit union strategic planning facilitator.

Cornerstone Advisors

Cornerstone Advisors regularly helps credit unions develop and execute strategic plans.  Their process is more in depth then many and focuses on understanding the client, surveying executives and board members, performing an assessment and ultimately facilitating the meeting.

CU Strategies

Celeste Cook is a CU Industry Expert.  She focuses on one and two day plans for credit unions.  She works with teams to identify CSFs, critical success factors, focused on growth and retention.   Celeste is big on accountability and highlights her approach to building tracking, goals, and benchmarks in her process.

Credit Union 2.0 – Credit Union Strategic Planning Facilitators (Kirk Drake, Chris Otey)

Kirk and Chris take a unique approach to planning sessions. Our goals are to deal with some of the real issues facing credit unions.  These include:

  •                 Who is your ideal member?
  •                 How do we improve board governance?
  •                 How do we get our board to look more like our membership?
  •                 How do we deal with the onslaught of fintechs and technology?
  •                 How do we change our culture to be more like a fintech?

 As the author of Credit Union 2.0, head of a large technology CUSO, and founder of CU Wallet Drake has great insights from both his time working at a credit union through his entrepreneurship and board experience.

As board chair of South Bay Credit Union and former CU Wallet and Fiserv executive, Chris has worked with hundreds of credit unions to help them deal with board governance, CUSO, and other technology challenges.

Credit Union 2.0 -Options

DREAM (Based on the CU2.0 Book)

Credit Unions are under unprecedented attack from all angles.  1000’s of Fintechs are collectively hurting the bottom line.  Regulators are slowing the industry down.  Credit Union 2.0 outlines the DREAM (Differentiation, Repeat and Reinforce, Educate and Excite, Automate and Motivate) methodology that will help your CU begin the process of digitally engaging your members, building fierce loyalty and making them feel the CU difference.

The Credit Union 2.0 movement teaches why we need to change, key case studies from awesome credit unions, lessons learned from other cooperatives, strategies for creating fierce loyalty including – The ultimate first 100 Day Experience, Hacking your CU’s Repeated Mistakes, and Education = Trust | Trust = Sales.

Finally, CU2.0 will provide an optimistic outline of the CU of the tomorrow that Digitally engages members, builds fierce loyalty, scales gracefully, and make your members feel like they own the place!


Kirk Drake, a serial entrepreneur focused on CU technology and author of CU 2.0, reveals his P.A.I.N.T. strategy you can use to make your CU more competitive, more creative and more in tune with today’s digital expectations. If you have struggled with corporate culture, agility, moving faster or competing with the onslaught of new Fintechs – the P.A.I.N.T. methodology will help your CU quickly iterate, and apply key “Operating System” Strategies to better engage your members.

Take home these 5 tools:

  • Painted Picture
  • Analytics Plan
  • Innovation and Agility Hacks
  • Nimble Algorithms
  • Terminate


3 Good Reasons You Should Use Video Marketing

Video marketing is here, and it is here to stay. Video has become an integral part of online marketing that your credit union CANNOT afford to ignore. It is the most effective tool for sharing information and entertaining content with your members. According to Cisco, by 2020 video will make up 79% of all internet traffic.

With Facebook Live, Facebook Stories, Instagram Stories, and all the video we see popping up in our social media news feed each time we log in, it is clear that video is being used not only by consumers but also by businesses. However, throughout our content creation services at CU 2.0, we still find that many credit unions are not utilizing videos and that executives are hesitant to start. Many credit union executives share the same concerns about getting set up to successfully start video marketing.

  • What is the monetary investment necessary for my marketing team to start using video?
  • Even if we have the money in our marketing budget, where do we even start?
  • Do I need to hire more staff or do I need to outsource?
  • Do my members really care about video? I thought it was just for celebrities, social influencers, or for sharing cute videos of my dog.

So, the question becomes, do the benefits of developing, executing, and sharing a video marketing campaign outweigh the amount of effort needed to successfully do so.

The answer is YES. 100%, without a doubt.

Here are 3 reasons your credit union marketing team should be using video marketing.

1) Members love watching videos

Why does it seem that videos are popping up all over social media and in our email inboxes? It’s because people love watching videos. Our members prefer watching videos over reading long strings of text because videos have the ability to convey a ton of information in a quick and easy to understand way. Video also allows your members to connect with your credit union and receive the personal touch that they would not get with a text article. Youtube has over 4 billion video views per day and is currently the second largest search engine, after Google. In 2015, online videos accounted for 55% of all mobile traffic and are forecasted to rise to 79% by 2020. Video content online is only going to continue to grow.

2) Search engines are all about video

Video is imperative if you are paying attention to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Your credit union is 53 times more likely to show up on the first page of a google search if you have a video embedded on your website. Since Google acquired YouTube, marketers have seen a significant increase in how videos affect your company’s search engine rank. Simply put, your credit union cannot afford not to have video on your website. You aren’t considered relevant by search engines if you don’t have video on your page. Click here to learn more about SEO.

3) Video helps to build a member’s trust

Having video on your website, social media channels, and marketing emails helps to put a face and personality behind your credit union’s brand. Video is a terrific way to build trust with your membership and connect with members when they aren’t in a branch. A terrific example of this is when a member first joins your credit union. Instead of sending a lengthy welcome email full of text, send a video welcoming the member along with a couple of helpful tips, links, and information that a new member would need.

Video can also be used in marketing campaigns to quickly and effectively grab a member’s attention and inform them about products and offers available to them. An email with a video embedded is likely to increase email click-through rates and improve email engagement. Video tracking also allows you to see which members opened the videos, who watched it all the way through, and who replayed it. Having this information will allow your marketing team to build out lead nurturing campaigns and thus build a more effective sales pipeline. Your marketing team will also have a better idea of what content your membership finds relevant, and this will help you build more successful campaigns.

Hopefully, you now agree that video marketing is imperative for your credit union. But how do you get started? CU 2.0 provides content creation services, and in our next blog, we will focus on some of our tips if you want to get started on your own. Keep an eye out!

Want to talk to an expert at CU 2.0 about our services and how we can partner with your credit union? Contact us here today!

Four Lessons Learned From the CU Leadership Convention

This past week I had the pleasure of speaking at the CU Leadership Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada.  This was the first year I have attended this conference, and it was previously called the CU Directors conference. Now that the organizers have opened the conference up to credit union management teams, the conference attendees have grown and the topics discussed have expanded greatly. Here are the top four things I took away from the 2018 CU Leadership Convention.

Cal Ripken is a great opener! 

Cal Ripken kicked off the conference and in his keynote, he shared terrific stories, wisdom, and thoughts about how he set a major baseball record for most number of games played.  I followed Cal in the second speaking slot, and Cal made my life easier by exciting the credit union attendees. My favorite story Cal shared involved how he managed through spring training and avoided getting hurt.  Over Cal’s career, he had nine coaches. So, when spring training started, Cal would proactively propose a training schedule that worked best for him and would take the workload off his Manager. The result was two-fold. There was a happy Manager with a decreased workload and a happy player who avoided early season fatigue and injury. This is a lesson that all of us should remember and put into practice. We should think about how to make our bosses lives easier by proactively proposing solutions to problems and managing ourselves.

Digital Engagement is Happening

When I am preparing my presentation for a conference I am speaking at, I look for examples of credit unions doing innovative things in the area of digital engagement and digital marketing. I am excited to say that this task gets easier and easier with each speech! Credit unions are following the DREAM methodology from Credit Union 2.0 (Differentiate – Recreate & Reinforce – Educate & Excite – Automate – Motivate) and quickly improving their social media presence, websites, video utilization, and connecting the dots between data and the member experience. This is exactly where we should be heading as an industry.

Use Humor and Empathy – They Go Together

Matt Kazam from They Laugh you Win, gave a great presentation on how to use humor throughout our day to day corporate lives. His methodology for joke writing, fusing audiences, and connecting person to person, provided a great framework that we can use in multiple areas of our lives. We can implement his method for better connecting with our boards, giving speeches, or just use it to have a little more fun at home.

Joe Mirachi, CEO of Launch FCU, and Deedee Myers, CEO, DDJ Myers, Ltd. know their Board Stuff!

I think a lot of us really struggle on how to help our boards be more strategic and less tactical. One small example of this is using an associate board member structure to develop a recruitment pipeline that allows for finding younger and more diverse professionals to help you take your credit union to the next level.

Overall, whether you are a board member or a credit union executive, the CU Leadership Convention is a great conference to attend. You are sure to pick up new ideas, network, and jump-start your credit union strategic plans!

credit union leadership convention

Three ways to better connect with your membership

As small niche financial institutions, it is imperative that we don’t lose sight of who we serve.  It is essential to your credit union’s survival to be highly focused on your niche and to customize and personalize your credit union’s solutions. One of the most essential ingredients in this process is how to connect with your member.  Now, what do I mean by connecting?

connect with member

Connecting is about being highly relevant and memorable at multiple levels.  This starts with the aggregate credit union brand, moves to the products & services, and ends with the individual member.   At the end of the day, if you can create continuity between all three levels you will have members that love you. This is the goal. Members who love your credit union then tell your story and bring their friends to you.

There are three things that can help you better connect with your membership.

Utilize video to Connect with Members

Video is becoming highly important in today’s digital world.  In the next few years, it is anticipated that more than 80% of all content consumed online will be in video.  Your credit union’s website, member interactions, and content should all be heavily reliant on video first.   Every website should have biography team videos, a video on the problems you solve for members, video member testimonials, and at least one video on EVERY page.  All these videos won’t happen overnight, but list out all the videos you need, prioritize, and start tackling the videos one at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it is time to get working on the foundation!  Videos are an essential way to connect with your member.

Connect with Members with a Blog

Now I know what many of you may be thinking, blogs are stupid and no one reads them.  Not true! A blog is simply a more frequent newsletter that allows you to maintain consistent communication with your members.  It is also a key way to train Google on the problems your credit union solves and the community you serve.  Your blog should not be an in your face marketing channel. Members will not click on and read your blog regularly if it is sales pitch after sales pitch. Regular distribution of educational content is a great way to connect with your member. Your blog should be simple quick articles, community news, and things that are relevant to your members. Don’t forget to optimize your posts for keywords and Google.

Use data and machine learning and other tools to hyper-personalize.

Amazon is an example of a company that is a rock star at this.  If you and I both pulled up Amazon on our computers right now, we would see different things based on our historical purchases and what Amazon believes might be interesting to us.  However, your credit union website looks the same to everyone who pulls it up.  The offers on your website are not personalized to the member.  To stand out and be relevant, credit unions should be using analytics, machine learning, marketing automation, and website design to highly personalize every interaction with a member.  The most important ingrediant to connect to your member is personalization.

Ultimately, connecting with members is what it is all about.  Seeing the difference your credit union makes for each and every member is highly rewarding.  Smart use of video, blogging, and data will allow your credit union to enhance those connections and make you highly relevant to your membership.

Originally published on August 1, 2018 on CUInsight