Filene's George Hofheimer Brings CU Differentiation Strategies to Latest ELS Session

Posted by Marissa Anema Wednesday, June 11, 2014 12:00:00 PM

HIGHTSTOWN, N.J. – If someone asked you “why should I bank with your credit union?”, what would your answer be? Filene's head of research and innovation, George Hofheimer, presented this question right out of the gate at Tuesday’s Executive Leadership Series (ELS) session. 

Filene's George Hofheimer challenges credit unions to determine what makes them different and to focus on that distinction.

Convenience, lower cost, needs-based, financial cooperative, exist solely for benefit for members…these were some of the answers given by the credit union leaders in the room. Hofheimer delved a bit deeper into what makes us different and how we can “capture the imagination” of consumers.

Big banks have big megaphones, Hofheimer reminded the group. They have millions of dollars to spend on marketing and advertising, and they have a branch on every corner. Being cooperative is the key to having a bigger megaphone, he says. Credit unions can band together and tell a collective story, whether it benefits them individually or collectively. 

Our Banking You Can Trust interns Gabrielle Leach and Brett Dawidowski sitting in on the ELS session, learning credit union differentiation strategies. 

We have a lot going for us, but we haven’t grown into our own yet, he says. Context, competition, technology, regulation, industry…there’s a lot we’re up against. 

As one strategy to rise above the rest, Hofheimer stressed the notion that you can’t be everything to everybody. You must know what you do and what you’re good at. Are you a cost leader? Do you serve a certain niche? Do you offer unique products/services? Hofheimer challenged credit unions to choose one area to focus on, make a distinguished decision, then deliver something distinctive to your members. 

Throughout the “Credit Union Differentiation” conversation, many credit unions shared the areas they are focusing on, how they’re distinguishing themselves from the competition, as well as their struggles to “break out of the box”. 

NJCUL's Banking You Can Trust interns Gabrielle Leach and Brett Dawidowski sat in on the discussion and offered up a unique perspective on credit union awareness among younger generations.

Additional photos are available on the League’s Facebook page

Look for more in-depth coverage of the ELS session in this month’s Exchange.  

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