While my time on the NAFCU Board of Directors will soon come to an end, I remain grateful for the opportunity to help steer the organization toward success. As I retire from the credit union industry, I can’t help but reflect on the great strides you, my colleagues, have made on behalf of American families and businesses across the country. I remain humbled by the mission that drives us and am honored to have served the members of State Farm Federal Credit Union. I could not be prouder of our industry’s ability to adapt, course correct, and modify for the better and I leave you with a final parting piece of advice: it is important, now more than ever, to be open to change.
When facing operational, emotional, and personal challenges, our industry stepped up to the table and worked even harder for our members. We put the needs of our employees, members, and communities above all else. During this time, we found new, innovative solutions to both re-occurring and new problems because we were forced to adapt.
Some of the proudest moments of my time in the credit union industry have surprisingly come during the pandemic. Our ability to change course and accommodate at the drop of a dime could not have been possible without strong communication with our board, our employees, and our members.
When we listen to our members and employees with the goal of understanding, rather than replying, change becomes an organization-wide decision and can be welcomed with open, trusting arms. When you create the space to address concerns with change directly, you let your employees know that their voice matters. This trust, which all financial institutions desire, must be earned and backed up by consistent action and respect. The first step to implementing change must always be to listen.
Whether you are deciding on new partnerships with fintechs, adding a new branch, or even making small changes to company policies—change can be unavoidable. But when we are open to evolving for the better, change can lead to unyielding success.
We all know that competitiveness is unavoidable in the financial services industry. This fact is even more apparent with the introduction of new technologies and an increasing pace in digital evolution. Change is not going anywhere. The credit union industry will again and again be faced with the important choice of whether to acclimate or reject—and my advice to you is to seek ways to embrace the future of our industry.
I know credit unions are in good hands with NAFCU. Because of this confidence, I am able to embrace a new chapter for myself and step away from the industry knowing it is on a path to greater success. You will continue to build on the momentum of the past several years and I know that what sets us apart today will lead us to a brighter tomorrow—because we are adaptable in times of change.
Tom DeWitt is president and CEO of State Farm Federal Credit Union in Bloomington, IL.