Cisco Canada Blog

Connecting, Change and Communications for Canada’s Credit Unions

October 15, 2012

By Geoff King, Sr. Advisor and Business Transformation Solutions, Financial Services Industry, Cisco Canada

Last month, Cisco was featured prominently at the Credit Union Services Association (CUSA) annual conference: sponsoring, speaking and networking at this great event held at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa from September 23 – 25.

CUSA is an alliance of Credit Unions based mainly in Ontario and Atlantic Canada. Nearly 200 senior leaders and ICT heads came together last week to discuss the “C”s, with topics covering connecting, change, consumerization, cloud, communication and competition.

As Cisco Canada’s business transformation lead for financial services, I presented at CUSA on the topic of change. I spoke about the opportunities to transform Retail Financial Services organizations through improved business interaction and collaboration. Why? Because collaboration enables increased productivity, a differentiated customer experience and profitable geographic expansion, all topics very critical to the leadership of Canada’s credit unions as they prepare to compete with banks for market share.

I was joined by Jim Phillips, Cisco product sales specialist for collaboration technologies. Jim spoke about consumerization and the trends shaping collaboration technologies. Specifically, he discussed the BYOD and Unified Communications approach essential for credit unions to fully leverage the technology’s benefits, and the decision factors to consider that are the key to success.

While at CUSA, the size of Canada’s credit union industry was impossible for me to ignore. There are over 700 Credit Unions and Caisse Populaire organizations with over 3,000 locations across Canada. The largest 100 credit unions reported assets of over $132 billion and have over 1,700 locations.

Credit Unions are based on cooperative principles and it was clear to me that collaboration comes to them naturally. While smaller in comparison to banks, they are innovators in how to structure their operational ecosystem to serve clients with competitive products and services at minimized costs.

They achieve scale through partnerships with services providers and shared infrastructure, application platforms and branches that can serve members of other Credit Unions. In essence, Credit Unions have employed the ‘X-as-a-Service’ (XaaS) consumption model for a long time.  Platform providers such as CGI, League Data and Central1 provide client-facing applications like mobile banking, as well as core banking systems, websites and document management. Some are now deploying video-enabled ATM’s to provide more convenience, better serve their members and leverage customer service personnel.

Looking to the future, cost effective and profitable growth is the key business imperative for Credit Unions. Changes to regulatory framework will allow Credit Unions to operate branded branches beyond traditional provincial boundaries and larger Credit Unions, some with assets exceeding $9 billion, will more than likely seek to expand and grow. Further consolidation will be essential for the small-to-medium sized unions, while the larger and better capitalized organizations are likely to pursue Mergers and Acquisitions.

Cisco is continually increasing its investment in this transformation of the financial services industry. Our partnership with CUSA and its conferences creates a great platform to build on these investments and to further strengthen the relationship between ICT leaders, service providers and the credit union community.

Together we will stimulate conversations on productivity and innovation, and work to solve the industry’s business needs with technology that will help grow, advance and transform Canadian credit unions.

Geoff King is the Sr. Advisor and Business Transformation Solutions lead for the Financial Services Industry at Cisco Canada.  In his role, Geoff works with Senior Business leaders to identify key business imperatives and to develop initiatives that leverage Cisco’s expertise, products, services and partners to produce business value. Geoff has s a broad base of international leadership and business transformation experience and most recently worked with the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, a strategic partnership composed of the major Financial Services organizations, three levels of Government and Educational Institutions, focused on building the international reputation of the Toronto region as a vibrant and strong Global financial centre. Geoff is passionate in his belief that technology innovation is a key enabler of sustainable businesses, an enriched human experience and a prosperous society. 

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