AUX Blog

The Dreaded Annual Meeting, Is there a better way?

May 14, 2024

Here we are again. It’s the beginning of May and most credit unions have just completed their annual meetings. It’s not too long after the end of the annual meeting before credit unions must start thinking about and planning for the next annual meeting. Often these meetings are just a carbon copy of what was done the year before. We update the annual report with the latest figures, update the pictures of staff and throw in some shots of the work we did in the community and some of the accomplishments. We discuss the credit union’s accomplishments for the past year and some of the challenges that the credit union faced and overcame. Ultimately, these events are mainly attended by staff and the board members, and a small handful of members are also in attendance. Most people these days have accounts at multiple financial institutions, and given how busy everyone is, it’s no wonder that many annual meetings are poorly attended.

What if we could find a better way?

Here are ten ideas to consider implementing:

1. Promote annual meetings through all channels.

It’s not enough to post it on LinkedIn, but you should be posting it on Facebook, Instagram, and most importantly TikTok if you are going to attract younger members. Your tellers can wear shirts or buttons to call attention to it.

2. Increase member engagement during the annual meeting with live polls.

This will help with the collection of real-time feedback on key meeting topics in real time and spark conversation that would be relevant to those in attendance.

3. Communicate with members through the development of a monthly newsletter.

Engage with your members year-round so when the annual meeting comes around members are more likely to attend.

4. Conduct focus groups with younger members

Conduct sessions multiple times per year. Members often have the best ideas, and they know what they want. If you want to engage with the younger members, then take the time to solicit their feedback on exactly what products and services are important to them.

5. Highlight other credit union sponsored events

Increase engagement with your members by letting them know all of the great things your credit union is doing. April is both Financial Literacy Month and Take Your Child to Work Day. These are both events that can be leveraged to engage more with members and create fun, exciting, engaging events with members and an opportunity to create future members. Look for other opportunities to engage and connect with your members.

6. Speak with members about upcoming credit union projects and initiatives.

Annual meetings can be an important opportunity for you to highlight projects that your credit union is thinking about or has already decided to implement in the future, so members are not so surprised by changes.

7. Recruit new volunteers for the board committees.

If your credit union has vacancies on board committees, then speaking with and engaging with those members that frequently attend events can be a good opportunity to identify candidates.

8. Prioritize your most profitable members.

Run the reports and analyze the data to identify the 20% of your members who contribute 80% of the deposit base. Annual meetings may be a good way to reach out to these platinum members with a separate session to give them the white glove treatment and see what it is that they really want.

9. Adopt a vulnerable approach as part of your strategy.

To foster a higher degree of trust between your members and the credit union, get vulnerable. Credit unions want to be confident and portray an image that everything is perfect when often that’s not the case. With inflation at 40-year highs, increasing regulation, increased competition from FinTechs, etc., credit unions are struggling with various issues. Annual meetings can serve as a mechanism to put these issues on the table and be transparent with members, which would help you establish a stronger connection with your members.

10. Demonstrate technology.

Technology can be our friend, especially when it decreases the number of staff assisted transactions with members and decreases expenses. Many members visit branches to deposit checks. As a part of the annual meeting, offer hands-on workshops and demonstrations to show your members how they can leverage technology to use mobile apps, online banking, mobile deposit, etc. and help engage with them. A more engaged member is more likely to have a higher share of wallet.
Use the annual meeting as an opportunity to engage with your members. Credit unions could turn annual meetings into an all-day affair on a Saturday. Provide activities for the kids, and conduct educational workshops about building credit, buying your first home and topics that would appeal to the younger members. Putting some of these ideas into action will help both the members and your credit union thrive.

In Washington, DC, at its annual meeting, IDB Global Federal Credit Union typically hosts around 700 members from around the world. Members can participate virtually or in person. Marilyn Wagner, Chief Experience Officer, shared that “Members genuinely enjoy participating in a forum where they can hear about the Credit Union’s past performance and see the roadmap for innovation and success. Additionally, member feedback is invaluable and allows us to develop the products and services that meet their financial needs.”

The Fractional CFO team at Aux brings a wealth of experience and insights into all aspects of a credit union’s operations that can help a credit union develop strategic alternatives to drive higher member engagement and improved financial results.

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Written by: Jonathan Hefter

Jonathan has over 25 years of comprehensive experience in accounting and financial services. He commenced his career in hedge funds and money management firms before transitioning into financial statement auditing, with a specialized focus on community credit unions of varying asset sizes. Through roles as a controller in three different credit unions, Jonathan honed his expertise in liquidity management, investments, and regulatory compliance, including significant contributions to CECL implementation during his tenure as SVP/CFO at a $450M credit union. Jonathan holds an MBA in Finance from George Washington University and a master’s degree in accounting from Pace University. His diverse background, blending practical experience with academic qualifications, uniquely positions him to provide strategic financial guidance to Aux clients, ensuring tailored solutions that meet their specific needs and challenges.

Jonathan Hefter
Jonathan Hefter
CFO Consultant

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