Why I am running for the board at Vancity – Community Focus #2

The second point of the the Desired Director attributes and Experience was “Deep understanding of the communities Vancity serves and the opportunities and risks of delivering financial services.

Having grown up in Vancouver and lived here most of my life one sees the changes in our community over the years. Working in the Fraser Valley for a number of years I was able to compare how both communities were changing. Each community has a different history with a different set of challenges. Some were very similar. In years not too distance, it was the local branch that one made their deposit at and the local branch that you withdrew your cash. The network of ATMs now do this. Automatic deposits, transfer and bill paying have changed how we manage our finances. There continues to be an evolvement of these services. 

The digital channel supplies information and allows us to transact business ourselves. But most of us as members need financial advice at certain times. Mortgages used to be a key transaction but with the affordability of housing will that be less of the case? Does the change in employment patterns require different products to service a members needs? The use of technology to give new opportunities is a given these days. The risk of delivering these financial services is also the new norm.

But will a technical algorithm with any product deliver everything we need. There always needs to be a pathway to allow the exception. Our needs are not always exactly the same and there needs to be a human understanding and decision at times. This is a key factor in making a difference and managing the risk of delivery of financial services. Reliance only on the two dimensions of digital communication cannot cover all circumstances. Vancity is a credit union that has kept the human factor in mind even as it has grown. That understanding is so important today.



Expectations for the CUWaterCooler

There are only a few days left until leaving for Nashville to attend the CUWaterCooler event. It has been a few years that this event has been in existence and has evolved from the Forum Solutions Symposium in Fishers, Indiana that goes back to at least 2008. (somebody out there will correct me on this).

I realize some individuals when reading this will say that most of us are just regurgitating the same old stuff and live in our own credit union echo chamber. That may appear to be so. Maybe it is because most of us have travelled the road of attending too many value-less conferences. We have paid large amounts of money only to hear experts tell us what we either already know or what we have dismissed as not extremely vital.

One of the key understandings of co-hosts and editors is to have a symposium that brings value in the simplest of terms to everyone who attends. Most presentations are by people who have a high degree of passion for what they will speak about. They are genuine in what they present and are more than willing to be challenged to further the dialogue. When everyone is willing to discuss the subject everyone learns.

I am always amazed by the people who attend for the first time. They really haven’t experienced those types of discussions or that level of networking. They usually come away excited and anxious about what to do when they get home. That makes this event different. The ideas you hear about get developed to a greater degree by the communication you have with everyone there. You begin to formulate what that will mean where you work. That is the real magic of the CUWaterCooler. Two days of being part of a group of people who want to do a better job, are willing to change and have some great ideas on how to accomplish these new found challenges — who wouldn’t want be to part of that?

Here is some advice. Come with no expectations except to enjoy the company, have intriguing discussions and make some new friends. What you leave with will be a gentle prodding to try something different. For some that will be immediate, for others a much longer journey. The fact is that something in the way you perceive credit unions will change, if only just a little. And that is what makes it all worth it.