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Michigan Credit Union League

CACU’s Hubbard Contributes to CUNA White Paper Aimed at Helping Small Credit Unions Thrive

CUNA recently published a strategic guide for small credit unions success and prevalent issues that small credit unions face. CUNA’s white paper “Five to Thrive, A Strategic Guide for Small CUs” includes highly effective strategies that will benefit credit unions of any size. Small credit union experts CUNA talked with revealed “five to thrive” – broader tenets to make the strategic planning efforts more effective.
They include:

  1. Differentiate
  2. Strive to be consultative
  3. Price appropriately
  4. Make lending a priority
  5. Use available resources

In order to stand out from other credit unions, differentiation is essential and vital in order to be successful. Hank Hubbard, CEO of Communicating Arts CU in Detroit, has implemented the strategies to help differentiate the credit union. Hubbard contributed to the CUNA paper.

Communicating Arts opened branches in poor communities because people in these areas were not well served by other lenders. These communities reflect how Communicating Arts concentrate on serving low- to middle-income populations.

“We started with the premise that these were the people we wanted to serve,” Hubbard said. “If you want to serve them, you need to structure products for them and charge in a way that’s fair and is a value for them.”

To differentiate the credit union in the eyes of the consumers, you can’t become just another commodity and do the same traditional operations and expect different results.

“To differentiate, price for your market, and use what you got (available resources),” Hubbard said. “I think sometimes small credit unions are trying so hard to grow that they sometimes lose sight of what makes them special. I know that happened to us in the 1980s. You also set pricing according what larger organizations are doing; that may not be the best choice for specialized smaller CUs.”

Consumers want to hear why they should join your credit union versus others and how your credit union stands out from the rest. A unique selling position is talked about as a strength strategy under differentiation. Identifying a few key factors your credit union does consistently well is a great asset to include when trying to differentiate your credit union.

“There are a lot of resources available to smaller credit unions – from consultative services from places like MCUL, to grants of all sizes,” Hubbard said. “We get so caught up in the day-to-day that we don’t take time to look into some of these things.”

One resource for Michigan credit unions of all sizes is the Michigan CU Foundation, which can provide grant and scholarship funding. MCUF Community Reinvestment Grants can help small credit unions make a bigger impact in improving the financial lives of community members through their credit union services and outreach. Learn more at

Hubbard said he was happy to contribute to the white paper because he believes he has a responsibility to help other small credit unions.

“If you can help another CU, you just do, you don’t wonder why,” Hubbard said.

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2015-04-13 00:00:00