The Bottom Line

Key Takeaways from NAFCU’s 50th Annual Conference & Solutions Expo

Posted by Ben Mrva on Jul 13, 2017 10:30:00 AM

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SRM was honored to be the signature sponsor at this year’s National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions’ (NAFCU) 50th annual conference. Given that more than a quarter of the roughly 250 credit unions in attendance are SRM clients, this was clearly an event our company wanted to help support. For anyone who missed the details, NAFCU hosted the four-day annual gathering in Honolulu, Hawaii drawing more than a thousand leaders from credit unions and service providers.

It’s hard to go wrong with Hawaii as a backdrop, but the content NAFCU provided – featuring strategic insights, timely industry updates and inspiring heroes from other walks of life – would have been rated five stars in any locale. A crowd favorite at the conference was keynote speaker retired Army Major General Vinnie Boles, who shared his perspective on leadership. The General’s charismatic and straightforward style resonated with the audience. He also provided plenty of useful insights to those tasked with leadership roles in the credit union industry including his observation that “Leadership isn’t complicated, but it is hard.  The goal is not perfection, the goal is progress.”

The Unavoidable R-Word

Regulatory relief is a topic at most any conference of this type, but in Hawaii there was a palpable, renewed energy around it given the reconstituted Washington landscape. However, the interest isn’t limited to trade association conferences like NAFCU. SRM was also on site at American Banker’s more tech-oriented Digital Banking conference held in Austin, Texas during the same week as NAFCU and the hope for regulatory relief was just as tangible. 

This made the welcome message delivered by acting National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman, J. Mark McWatters, especially relevant as he predicted credit unions could expect more regulatory relief and streamlined operations from the powers that be. The changes McWatters described would improve credit unions’ ability to compete and would be especially good news for smaller institutions where the disproportionate cost of compliance imposes an even greater burden. McWatters also added that the NCUA board is particularly interested in pushing for risk-based capital and stress-testing rules.

Thought Leadership on Vendor Management

Beyond the keynote speakers, a healthy docket of sessions focused on technology trends, disruptive threats and the ever-evolving ways that payments are executed by both consumers and businesses, with and without their financial institutions playing a visible role.

The session, “The Seven Most Expensive Vendor Management Mistakes,” led by Patrick Goodwin, president of SRM, was particularly well attended and generated plenty of follow-up questions and conversation. For those who were unable to attend, here are two particularly big “fails” often committed by financial institutions: Failing to track auto-renewal deadlines and not factoring in realistic growth expectations.

In another session led by John Fuller, SVP of Business Development, he provided insights about the distinct roles played by card processors and card networks. John’s takeaways included the observation that while both are mission critical to credit union operations, each presents their own unique vendor contract structures that credit unions need to understand and manage effectively to optimize performance.

It was a wonderful week in Honolulu, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s NAFCU event in Seattle. Aloha until then.

Topics: News