I recently had the pleasure of attending the Analytics and Financial Innovation Conference (AXFI) in Minneapolis which is organised by OnApproach and the Best Innovation Group. The majority of the 200+ attendees were from credit unions and it is clear that there is a real desire among credit unions to adopt the latest analytical developments and financial innovations where there is potential to add value to their employees and their members. Over the course of the event there were some fantastic keynotes from credit union thought leaders and guest speakers.
The event has grown significantly over the last couple of years and it felt more like a movement than a conference. So how very fitting that the first speaker Florian Moser, Head of Business & Product Development at Fidor Bank, played a popular TED video on 'How to start a movement' by Derek Sivers:
The underlying theme that speakers would refer back to was the need to start with strategy, getting the right buy in from the executive leadership and participation from business users of the credit union, before embarking on any analytics initiative. The importance of asking questions such as:
- Why are we doing this?
- What questions are we trying to answer?
- How will we measure the results?
- Who needs to be involved in this process?
- What data do we need to answer these questions?
Practical ideas for financial innovation
This event had practical ideas that could be applied immediately with skills being developed during an Amazon Alexa hackathon using Alexa’s voice recognition technology to provide information services such as branch opening times to credit union members. For more information on Amazon Echo Development I would recommend checking out John Best’s BIG Podcast episode on the topic with Paul Cutsinger of Amazon.
Practical ideas for analytics
There were many practical ideas presented by speakers including our own CEO, Graham Goble, who spoke at the conference on a panel with Scott McClymonds of CEO Velocity on the topic of “Turning Data into Actionable Information for Managers”. Graham’s latest publication on measuring, monitoring and managing the efficiency ratio provides an example of financial performance analytics linked to credit union strategy.
Credit union collaboration
One of my favourite sessions was the analytics competition where three representatives of credit unions shared their own innovations to solve tough business problems. I enjoyed this session because it highlighted for me the collaborative nature of the credit union movement and the willingness to share ideas and best practices. It got me thinking, would the big banks, in any country, share their innovations with each other? Innovations born from their own expertise, research and development to give them a competitive edge or greater efficiencies. I think I know what the answer is and I believe that the credit union movement has an edge in this respect. They may not be able to compete individually on economies of scale but they can compete by harnessing the power of the movement to collaborate and share best practices to stay competitive and continue to offer high levels of service to their members.