State of State Politics: Dr. Benjamin Dworkin Gives a Forecast for the Midterm Elections
By: Dr. Benjamin Dworkin, Founding Director of the Rowan Institute for Public Policy and Citizenship at Rowan University

Today, five of New Jersey’s 12 members in the House of Representatives are Republican. In no normal year would four of those five seats be up for grabs – but that is what is happening in 2018. This is clearly a result of the Trump Effect. Given that Democrats need 24 seats to flip control of Congress, our state is suddenly thrust into the middle of a national vortex heading into the November midterm elections. 

Convention Blog
What Does it Mean to Be Empathetic in a Digital Age?
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

We can (and will) endlessly debate whether we still need branches, but one thing is clear – more and more transactions are migrating to the digital environment, in which our interactions with members are impersonal. But credit unions pride themselves on close, personal ties to members. 

Which begs the question of how we can continue to empathize with members if we don’t see them face-to-face, or even talk to them directly?

We felt that this question was so important that we’re devoting a breakout session to it at our upcoming 84th Annual Convention and Meeting (October 21-23, 2018 at the Golden Nugget in Atlantic City). Our expert is Karthik Sethuraman, CEO of our Business Partner SimplyCredit, a credit card balance consolidation technology. 

One of the things that caught our eye about the SimplyCredit technology was the killer interface – that proverbial digital last mile to the member. It turns out that Karthik and his team have spent a good deal of time thinking about what it means to be empathetic in a digital world. 

I had a chance to catch up with Karthik to get a preview of his upcoming presentation…

Convention Blog
A Foundation of Social Good: Growing as a Leader with the Credit Union Mission at Heart
By: Marissa Anema, VP, Marketing & Communications, NJCUL, & Executive Director, NJ CU Foundation

As many of you know, the most rewarding part of my job is running the New Jersey Credit Union Foundation and its programs, which allows me to work closely with our credit unions in their communities and touch the lives of our New Jersey brethren.

It also affords me the opportunity to work with another fabulous, impactful organization…the National Credit Union Foundation. Our state foundation partners up with the National Credit Union Foundation on many programs on both the national and local level, helping our credit unions and their communities thrive.

I’m so excited to have Andy Johnson, Senior Program Director at the National CU Foundation, joining us at our Convention this year. He shares my passion for making a difference in others’ lives and is a credit union believer through and through.

He’ll be leading an interactive session on Sunday afternoon titled “A Foundation of Social Good: Your Members, Their Credit Union” for our Emerging Leaders track, reviewing the history of the credit union movement, the true mission and passion behind what we do as credit unions, and how emerging leaders should keep this at the heart of what they do, and every decision they make, every day.

I speak to Andy almost on a weekly basis during the Enhanced FiCEP semesters, one of which we’re in the middle of right now, so I asked him a few questions on one of our recent calls to get a preview of what he’ll cover during his session…

Convention Blog
Help Members and Grow Loans: Gaining Loyalty Through Credit Builder Programs
By: Barbara Agin, NJCUL VP, Member Experience & Education 

When I think about credit builder programs and credit migration, I think of Dr. Randy Thompson. I have seen his demonstration of how loans to good members with less-than-perfect credit scores can be both a benefit to the member and the credit union. Also, having had the opportunity to sit in on many lending sessions over the years, one big takeaway was that credit unions can’t compete for “A Paper.”

Randy Thompson will be presenting “Expanding Loan Portfolios with a Credit Builder Program” at this year’s Convention. I had a chance to talk with Randy recently to get a preview of what he’ll share with attendees… 

Convention Blog
NJPD Veteran to Provide Active Shooter Training at Convention
By: Barbara Agin, NJCUL VP, Member Experience & Education 

While it is unfortunate that we live in times where there is a need for “active shooter training,” we are fortunate to have an expert right here in New Jersey! 

In his Tuesday morning session, John Hunt, a veteran of the New Jersey State Police, will provide viable strategies as well as an analysis of the time of crisis as an event unfolds, review of an actual event, and details learned from an investigation of an event. The information and expertise John will provide will allow you to educate your team back at the branches to keep your credit union family safe while at work as well as when they are out with their families. 

I posed a few questions to John about his breakout session to see what we’ll learn… 

Convention Blog
From Tactical to Strategic to Successful: How to Develop a Strategic Thinking Habit that Sticks…And Why it’s So Important
By: Marissa Anema, VP, Marketing & Communications, NJCUL

It happens to all of us. We get so busy keeping the day-to-day work moving forward that we lose sight of the big picture. It's easy to stay very tactically- and operationally-focused. Thinking strategically, looking at what is going on externally, keeping a finger on the pulse of the industry, keeping an eye out for disruptors, making plans for the next 3 to 5 years…that takes time and energy that most of don’t feel we have.

But with the challenges credit unions are facing, we can’t afford NOT to make time. 

I’ll admit that I’m a BIG culprit when it comes to staying operationally-focused. I think it’s safe to say that many young professionals new to leadership roles sometimes struggle with shifting their behavior and though-process to the strategic.

That’s why I’m excited to hear from Tracy Morgan at this year’s Convention. As Managing Partner at North Star Strategies, Tracy’s work is dedicated to strategic planning, marketing, market research, organizational development, and financial analysis for organizations, including the New Jersey Credit Union League. Her Sunday afternoon session, “Succeeding in a Challenging Market: Strategies & Tactics for Emerging Leaders” is part of the League’s Emerging Leaders track, which includes topics aimed to help young professionals grow and thrive in the industry.

I spoke with Tracy recently to get her thoughts on the challenges credit unions face, why they need to be strategic, and how they can start thinking that way…

Convention Blog
Pivot and Persevere: How to Be an Agile and Influential Leader
By: Barbara Agin, NJCUL VP, Member Experience & Education

I am sure you have all heard of the book “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”

This classic acknowledges the differences between men and women in an effort to help them communicate more effectively.

In the business world, women have unique strengths and barriers to success. When Donnalyn Giegerich, the leader of an empowerment speaking and corporate training company, was highly recommended by a female credit union professional to speak at our Convention, we thought she was a perfect complement to our speaker line-up, especially since adding on the Emerging Leaders track focused on that next generation being groomed to move up the management ladder. 

“What’s Trending with Women and Leadership” is a two-part series dedicated to women; however, each session is effective as a stand-alone…and everyone can learn a thing or two!

I asked Donnalyn about each session, and based on her responses below, this really looks like a fabulous session!

Convention Blog
Why Understanding Analytics is Key
By: Barbara Agin, NJCUL VP, Member Experience & Education

While I am somewhat left-brained, credit union ratios and the understanding of how they interrelate has never come easy for me.

One person I feel does an outstanding job of explaining analytics in an easy to understand format is Dr. Randy Thompson. 

He will share his knowledge at the breakout session "Using Analytics to Improve Business." 

I posed some questions to Randy so he could give us a preview of what he'll cover at his breakout...

Convention Blog
Change Is Ongoing and Is Not Top-Down
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

Change is hard for all of us. Implementing a change process at an organization is even harder. Make that a large organization founded in 1935, with $20.6 billion in assets and nearly 4,000 employees, and it might seem like an impossible task.

About nine months ago, I had the privilege of seeing a presentation by CUNA Mutual Group on how they successfully executed an enterprise-wide change initiative, based on an evolution of their strategy. It was nothing short of amazing.

It is safe to say that many of us are either going through a strategic change process, are about to go through one, or are thinking about going through one – or maybe recovering from one we just finished. Successful organizations of all sizes know that you never really stop changing, that it is an ongoing cycle.

Which is why we wanted to bring a CUNA Mutual Group case study to the 2018 NJCUL Annual Convention. Joining us will be Ms. Linda Nedelcoff, CUNA Mutual Group’s SVP of Human Resources and Communications. Linda was directly involved in the organization’s change process, and will walk us through key success factors, as well as some of the unexpected issues they encountered.

We had a chance to visit with Linda to get a preview of the presentation...

Convention Blog
What The Heck Is An Exogeneous Variable, and What Does It Have To Do With My Credit Union, Anyway?
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO 

For those of you that can remember way back to macroeconomics in ECON 101, an exogeneous variable is an economic variable that affects economic activity, but which is independent of that activity. In layman’s terms, things like interest and unemployment rates over which you have no control, but which can have a major effect on your business.

The general economic environment within which we operate falls into this category. As individual actors, credit unions have no control over it, but understanding current conditions and trends is critical for CEOs and Boards charged with making well-informed strategic decisions.

Convention Blog
Looking Ahead to the 2018 NJCUL Annual Convention
By: David Frankil, NJCUL President/CEO

We’ve just opened up registration for the 2018 NJCUL Annual Convention, and it promises to be bigger, better, and more focused on your needs than ever before.

Highlighting the program is our CUNA Mutual Group Keynote – Jonah Berger, Professor of Marketing at the Wharton School and best-selling author. You may recall Jonah making his inaugural credit union appearance at our 2017 CU Reality Check, and he was the highest-rated speaker among an all-star cast. Since then, he has been picked-up as a speaker by numerous other credit union groups.

My only regret about that meeting was not being able to feature Jonah more prominently – and the 2018 NJCUL Annual Convention gave us the chance to remedy that.

His presentation at CU Reality Check was focused on one of his bestsellers – “Contagious: Why Things Catch On,” with a message that is directly relevant to credit unions, i.e., how we can better communicate the value of our business model to uninformed consumers. See my interview with Jonah here.

This year, Jonah’s presentation is going to focus on another one of his bestsellers – “Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior.” This message is also meaningful – why our members do what they do, and why we do what we do.

But it doesn’t end there – we’ve pulled together a tremendous roster of speakers.

Convention Blog