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Operations Consulting

From Red to Black: Fall Strategic Planning helps CUs remain strong

Bill Rockeman, The League's Senior Consultant

The fall ushers in a busy time for credit unions. Most are already looking toward the new year by focusing on budget planning and, just as important, strategic planning.


Strategic planning is essential in helping a credit union remain strong and profitable because it better prepares credit union managers on how to deal with a long-term future filled with potential opportunities and threats.


Because of the ever-changing environment, it’s also essential – and recommended by the Office of Credit Unions – to hold a strategic planning session annually to ensure that the plan still fits the current state of the credit union.


Credit unions have a lot of choices to make when it comes to their planning sessions, but one of the first decisions is who will facilitate the session. It’s most beneficial for credit unions to hire someone outside of the credit union to facilitate because, by doing so, the facilitator will provide a fresh perspective that is removed from the day to day operations so the planning can focus on the "bigger picture."


After the facilitator has been determined, the following items should be conducted as prep work for the session:


  • Conduct a thorough financial review. Gather the credit union’s call reports and most recent financial statements to help your board get a general overview of the credit union’s financial condition.


  • Find an offsite location to conduct the session. This will allow the board to get out of the credit union and help them be more comfortable to speak freely. It will also limit disruptions.


  • Survey the board. Create a pre-planning questionnaire that asks your board about various aspects of the credit union. For example, ask your board how they think the credit union differentiates itself from other financial institutions, or ask if the credit union is their primary financial institution and why or why not. The questionnaire will get board members thinking about the bigger picture and can initiate valuable discussions.


As I’ve mentioned before, as part of The League’s consulting services I often serve as facilitator for credit union strategic planning sessions around the state. The League’s service includes:


  • Pre-planning meeting. To get a better understanding of the credit union, as well as its current focus and future goals, I meet with the President/CEO prior to the strategic planning session. During this meeting we also determine how the planning will be conducted.


  • Financial review. I’ll review the significant financial ratios and some simple projections to give planning participants a general overview of the credit union’s financial condition.


  • Survey. I’ll ask board members to fill out a pre-planning survey about specific topics discussed in the pre-planning meeting. While the responses will remain anonymous, I will use information from the pre-planning survey to develop a list of concerns/opportunities facing the credit union.


  • Review of mission statement. If your credit union does not have one, I’ll help to develop one or I’ll review the credit union’s current mission statement to ensure the credit union is fulfilling its purpose and functions.


  • Identify areas of concern or opportunity. I’ll help participants identify areas where the credit union should make improvements. While the list will be started from the survey responses, participants will be able to add to it.


  • Prioritize concerns. Once the list of concerns is completed, participants will have a chance to prioritize them. Top concerns will be developed into goals for the credit union to execute over the next year.


  • Envision strategies. I’ll help participants identify the root cause(s) of the problems and suggest remedies to eliminate them.


  • Develop goals. I’ll help participants develop goal statements that address the most pressing issues.


  • Develop action steps. I’ll help participants develop action steps and indicate who will be responsible for execution, as well as set deadlines.


Throughout the process, I really try my best to provide each credit union with the most comprehensive planning program based on my firsthand knowledge of credit union issues, as well as additional circumstances that may be affecting Wisconsin credit unions.


If you’re interested in learning more about this service, please contact me. I’m still taking appointments; however, the sooner you call to set up a session, the easier it will be to get your preferred time and date.


While strategic planning has been taking up more of my time as of recently, I have also been busy answering questions and helping credit unions with a number of things. In the weeks leading up to NCUA Board’s vote to set the Corporate Assessment at 25 basis points, I was fielding a number of calls from credit unions anticipating NCUA’s decision so that they could plan accordingly.


I also helped a couple of credit unions by answering their questions on specific policies, as well as providing a policy review. I was also happy to help with several questions regarding call reports and accounting.


As always, nothing is too small to call me with a question. I’m here to help. Contact me at (262) 751-3420.

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