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It's tough out there but credit unions are working to meet a variety of challenges head on.

Roughly 1,700 credit union professionals were expected at the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions' annual conference this week and America's Credit Union Conference from the Credit Union National Association, which took place this week in New Orleans and Orlando, respectively. Throughout both conferences, Credit Union Journal spoke with executives, directors and advisory board members about their biggest worries and concerns for the industry right now and their priorities for the upcoming year.

The following are their responses, which have been edited for clarity.

More coverage from ACUC can be seen here and here.

Additional NAFCU coverage can be found here and here.
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Louisiana Sanders, director of the $1.1 billion-asset SRP FCU in North Augusta, S.C. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"Our biggest concern is regulation. What new regulations will the new NCUA board come out with? When you have new [board] members, there's always a concern. You won't know their perspectives. We are a strictly regulated industry and there are already regulations on credit unions that don't fit credit unions' purpose."
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Darin Guggenheimer, CEO of the $341 million-asset Gain FCU in Burbank, Calif. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"I worry about overall longevity, especially recruiting volunteers [for the board of directors.] It's harder and harder to replace experienced board members and there's no substitution for good governance. With finding replacements, you have to make sure they are well educated on the issues and will help us survive and grow. I also worry about longevity in terms of deposits as a generational shift is happening. We have a lot of baby boomers. How do you replace them on some scale?"
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Donna VanderVries, director at the $979 million-asset Michigan First CU in Lathrup Village, Mich. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"Technology like mobile banking apps and making sure we do what we need to do to stay relevant to upcoming generations. You have members with different service expectations. There is a sense of wanting instant gratification now."
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Rich Miller, director at the $170 million-asset Service One CU in Bowling Green, Ky. (attended ACUC)
What are your priorities for the upcoming year?

“We’re in the process [of focusing on] digital transformation; anything from new core systems to the advanced mobile systems. So, I am looking for how to optimize those particular resources so that we get an optimal return on our investment. All credit unions, when we engage in these kinds of processes, when they upgrade, are putting out millions of dollars. And we have to be sure that we’re utilizing every possible component to provide better sources for our members and find ways to attract new members as well. Our credit union is identified in Bowling Green as the #1 FI over banks and everyone else in the area.

We see that the younger group has no patience for long periods of time; they want things very quickly so we have to be very, very nimble with our mobile. The attention span [of millennials] is incredibly short.”

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Renee Nelson, chief financial officer at the $1.1 billion-asset First Community CU in Coquille, Ore. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"Staffing is a big issue. We are pretty financially strong with good operations and a strong board. We have the hard stuff under our belt. It's hard finding people who want to stay at the credit union. You've got to keep younger employees engaged. It is also hard to grow loans. Consumer confidence seems to be down. A lot of loans were from refinance activity before. Tariffs [are hurting confidence] and everyone is watching to see what the Fed will do with rates."
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Mark Morrison, president and CEO of the $103 million-asset Mountaincrest CU in Arlington, Wash. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"I worry about consolidation. There is a merging out of small institutions. That destroys the industry if we are all over $1 billion. We will no longer be credit unions and we will end up being taxed. I believe small credit unions ensure we serve small communities."
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Doug Thompson, director of retail delivery at the $3.5 billion-asset Citadel FCU in Exton, Pa. (attended ACUC)
What are your priorities for the upcoming year?

“We are focused on consulting with our members to find the right product for them – whether it be a checking account, credit card, or a meeting with a member of our wealth management team. We have some of the top awarded advisors in the country, and as our members move toward milestones such as saving for college or retirement, our advisors can provide financial guidance.”
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Mary Kiser, supervisory board member at the $2.2 billion-asset Ornl FCU in Oak Ridge, Tenn. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"Because of my position on the advisory committee, I focus on risk a lot and security of information. Cybersecurity is really important. One bad incident could break you. You hear about [the breaches]. It's not just our cybersecurity. It's also with vendors."
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Jimmy DuBose, director of the $2.1 billion-asset GTE Financial in Tampa, Fla. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"All of the new competition that is entering the market, like Amazon and Walmart. They are vying for our members. If we do what we are supposed to do, we will differentiate ourselves. We need to offer our members the best service and make it convenient for them. The competition is making things convenient for everyone."
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Faith Fuller-Hayden, vice president and controller at the $67 million-asset Stamford FCU in Stamford, Conn. (attended NAFCU)
What is your biggest worry or concern for the industry right now?

"CECL implementation is overwhelming and complex. We are a $67 million credit union and we have 12 employees total. This will be a huge cost financially and human resource wise. It's a tremendous undertaking. We will have to stretch our people a bit further. I'm praying every day they give an exemption to credit unions."
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Demi Botonis, organizational effectiveness consultant at the $1.8 billion-asset Anheuser-Busch Employees’ Credit Union in St. Louis (attended ACUC)
What are your priorities for the upcoming year?

“Right now we’re working on getting our technology where it should be, so our big priority is getting our core conversion done.”
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