As financial markets evolve in 2017, credit unions are facing some major decisions, including everything from director pay and expanding membership to tighter, post-2008 regulations and the looming threat of losing tax-exempt status in the US. New technology, too, has presented credit unions with an unprecedented number of risks and opportunities.

Credit Union Boards

Adopting new technology means a lot of discussion and strategizing at the board level and your directors must determine whether new technologies meet the organization’s mission and vision, as well as whether they meet regulatory standards. On the one hand, better mobile banking features are key to appealing to younger demographics, but they also increase the risks of data breaches and over-reliance across the industry on a small number of suppliers. New technology in the form of board portals can also help them have those discussions and evaluate the risks of taking a new direction.

Credit unions must start leading with technology adoption to maintain their strength in American and Canadian markets and infuse new blood into aging membership bases. Technology is one subject that will be tackled by software provider Aprio at this year’s Mountain West Credit Union Association annual meeting and convention in Arizona. Annual meetings and conventions are a great opportunity for credit unions to learn more about the state of the industry and find out about new technology driving the industry forward, wherever they are. MWCUA members can take the opportunity in April to learn about board portals from vendors and learn how to meet the future’s challenges.

One of the biggest hurdles facing credit unions in both the United States and Canada as they prepare for the future is expanding their membership among younger demographics. The average age of membership in the United States is 47, while in Canada that number is even higher at 53. Even as the major banks lose customers to payday loan companies and online-only banks, CUs still struggle to appeal to Generation Y. Some credit unions have already embraced the same mobile technology that many conventional banks now use to appeal to younger demographics, such as depositing checks by sending a photo from your phone. It remains up to credit unions to keep up with financial technology to expand their appeal to a generation that is only just entering a life stage where they make major financial decisions, including entering the housing market.

Director pay remains a controversial issue among credit unions, while in many jurisdictions they are not permitted to pay board members, which means that recruitment can be a challenge. Recruitment can be especially difficult for boards that want to create a succession plan that involves replacing retiring directors with Millennials, who may not yet have considered board work. Coaching and training younger directors also remains a challenge, but using board software like Aprio can be an effective way to improve director engagement and supply training resources.

There are plenty of challenges in the years ahead for credit unions; make sure your organization is prepared to meet them with superior board software.