Group ID'd As Future Leaders Of CUs Meets; Identifies Opportunities

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The Filene Institute's i3 program has met and released an update on its initiatives.

The i3 program, for Ideas, Innovation, Implementation, is an assemblage of senior credit union executives identified as "future leaders" within the credit union community. Its 26 members met recently in Washington where they shared their reports.

A common theme to those reports was that credit unions are in a good position to differentiate themselves from other providers of financial services using a variety of approaches ranging from educating young adults on the benefits and pitfalls of credit cards to offering mortgage programs that cross generational lines. Reports also covered product development, building member relationships, new avenues of communication, and service transformation. Filene said it will issue a publication on i3 progress to its members later this year.

According to Filene, several of the groups reported on pilot projects undertaken in their own credit unions to test the validity of specific product and service solutions. For example, one participant's credit union is offering "Lifestyle Loans" to assist its members who desire elective medical procedures not covered under their health insurance policy. This innovative program provides fast, easy and affordable financing for patients undergoing a specific surgical procedure, in cooperation with surgical specialists.

At another participant's credit union, members have access to a new family credit card program which assigns a portion of a creditworthy member's line of credit to other family members. The program is designed to help parents introduce their children to the world of credit, and to allow adult children to help their elder parents with financial aid.

"The i3 work groups presented programs that demonstrate tangible results that have the potential to change our industry," said Mark Meyer, Filene Director of Innovation. "Participants in the i3 process are future leaders of our industry, and are already working in key positions in credit unions. They understand the importance of following through on ideas to create products, services or business models that will make a difference in members' financial lives. Our great opportunity is to tap the skills of these executives for the benefit of the credit union community."

Members of i3 serve staggered three year terms. An additional group of 10 individuals will join the group in 2005. The application process is open, with guidelines available on the Filene Web site (www.filene.org). The i3 initiative is being partially underwritten by a grant from the corporate network and U.S. Central Credit Union.

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