Relationships Are Key to Success in 2023

By B. Dan Berger, NAFCU President and CEO

B. Dan Berger, NAFCU President and CEO

A recent report from Engageware explored financial services trends and identified three key themes to an institution’s success in 2023: Employee opportunities and retention, continuity in member service across banking channels (i.e., in-person and digital) and striking the right balance with technology.

At the core of the credit union industry is people. The cooperative financial model thrives because your institutions prioritize the well-being of members and make business decisions based on their needs, rather than solely focusing on profits.

How do you know what your members need? It comes down to the relationships you form—with members and employees.

Your employees are the backbone of your credit union. They interact daily with members—they know when a member has a teenager about to start driving, is wanting to buy their first home or is getting ready to retire.

These insights are invaluable as your credit union examines your product and service lines, prepares strategic plans and decides where to invest. While the relationships your employees develop with members are crucial, how you support your employees is the key for success.

Employees who feel valued for their contributions, receive benefits that provide a good quality of life and have opportunities to grow personally and professionally are much more engaged and loyal to your institution. Employee well-being directly correlates to productivity, a sense of responsibility and care. Your members get a sense of that well-being through member service.

The digital age we live in adds complexity to the relationship banking credit unions are known for—it’s important to have access to technology and online or mobile platforms that make managing finances easy. As we saw three years ago when the coronavirus pandemic upended normal life and limited in-person interactions, credit unions that had invested in financial technology—fintech—saw fewer disruptions in member service compared to those that had put off adoption.

But digital banking preference does not mean member service takes a backseat. Let’s face it—even with all the time and money spent on fintech advancements, issues still arise. Speaking with a credit union employee to sort through the problem and find a solution gives members peace of mind.

Working directly with a person is also critical in higher-stakes financial situations, like obtaining a home or business loan. These are tremendous milestones. People want reassurance that everything is being done in their best interest and being done the right way.

As an advocacy organization representing credit unions, NAFCU’s mission is to secure a legislative and regulatory environment in which credit unions can pursue partnerships, products and services to meet your members’ needs.

We fight daily to ensure you have more time and resources to invest in your employees. We fight daily so that your employees aren’t unduly burdened with compliance concerns, and that we provide you with needed resources to educate and train them on credit union rules and regulations. We also fight daily for policies that allow you to innovate and invest in fintech to stay competitive in the increasingly digital market.

So as you consider the trends and themes for success this year, know that NAFCU stands ready to help you reach your goals. We’re here to support you, your employees and your 134 million members. 

Connect with B. Dan Berger on Twitter, @BDanBerger, and on his blog at