Ever since they first emerged on the North American scene, credit unions have played an important local role in shaping how people save and invest their money. But over the past twenty years, as the banking industry has seen consolidation after consolidation and a handful of powerful national financial institutions have come to dominate banking in the United States, credit unions have become the service of choice for consumers who want their financial institutions to offer local decision-making and investment into their community. Even as this has given credit unions greater significance and power, it has also left them a new set of governance challenges.
By their very nature, credit unions tend to be local organizations that serve a specific region or group. But as they have grown into the void left by mid-size community banks, they are capturing a larger share of the market. In some cases, this is cause for strain, as boards and executives attempt to realign their strategies and organizational values with their new profile and significance. In the end, the solution and the challenge are usually the same: communication. Boards that could once easily manage the affairs of their organization through quarterly meetings now need to be in more regular contact, and this is not always easy if members are spread out over a geographic area.
One of the tools that is proving most popular among credit union boards that want to improve their communication strategies is board of directors management software — a technological solution that blends intuitive design with advanced encryption to create a document sharing service tailor-made for boards of directors. Software from companies like Aprio allows board members to access all the information they need via an easy-to-use app, and to share and collaborate with each other on everything from annual reports to agendas for upcoming meetings. Users can annotate documents, chat with each other, and access previous board documents via an extensive archive library, and they can use the app both online and offline.
Because it makes it possible for directors to access board data and network with each other between meetings, management software is helping credit union boards achieve a greater degree of connectivity and collaboration than has ever been possible before. It is also helping directors creatively respond to the challenges that face any growing financial institution in the 21st century.
Recent data suggests that credit union growth is only likely to continue. Not only are more Americans being won over by credit unions, strategic visioning among some of the most dynamic credit unions has positioned them to mount a real challenge to conventional banks — which, even a decade after the financial crisis, still struggle to gain the trust of the American people. But the long-term health of credit unions relies on prudent growth and strong leadership from their boards. This is why many credit union boards are turning to the best technological solutions, like portal software, to help guarantee the best communication and governance.