Ryan Patel: Today’s Crossroads is the Biggest Ever for CUs

(L-R): Keynote Speaker and Global Executive/Board Director Ryan Patel talked on stage with Nader Moghaddam, CEO of Financial Partners CU; Erin Mendez, CEO of Patelco CU; and Joan Opp, CEO of Stanford FCU.
(L-R): Keynote Speaker and Global Executive/Board Director Ryan Patel talked on stage with Nader Moghaddam, CEO of Financial Partners CU; Erin Mendez, CEO of Patelco CU; and Joan Opp, CEO of Stanford FCU.

“In the future, financial institutions are going to be content creators,” said Ryan Patel. “Your credit union will provide education through impactful, digital content. It’s an opportunity to make a great experience and change things. It’s up to you; your members are looking for it, and they trust your credit union.”

(View or download any of this week’s photos from the REACH 2021 photo gallery)

Before leading a panel with three credit union CEOs, the keynote speaker sat with California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra during the afternoon general session on Tuesday at REACH 2021, the Leagues’ annual conference. Patel is global executive and former/current board director of many companies, from small start-ups to large corporations.

Patel said financial institutions are always at a crossroads every few years. However, what has changed recently is that the crossroads today represents the biggest opportunity for credit unions and other players that he has ever seen.

“It’s okay not to be middle-of-the-pack, like many of you view yourselves compared to other financial services providers,” he said. “The ‘North Star’ has moved, and you can set your sites straight on it. Fintech is making this possible.”

Financial services has been “so very reactive” — not proactive — for many years, he said. Today, credit unions can draw a straight line to where they want to be and make the most of the post-COVID pandemic opportunities that have already launched them into new changes over the past year-and-a-half.

“You are prepared after COVID to do things and accomplish things that you thought were never possible,” Patel said. “You did things in record time. Don’t go backwards. You have an opportunity.”

Credit unions should recognize global interconnectedness and stay engaged with how world events are directly impacting their members. For instance, many consumers didn’t initially see global and domestic prices rising during the most recent consumer-and-business inflationary flareup.

“You are your members’ first line of defense in explaining this,” Patel said. “Be aware of evolution speed. Look around you, look at other industries, and study things. Dominos came out years ago saying they’re a tech company, not a pizza company. Now others are catching up to them. However, once you have that first crack at the consumer, it’s up to you whether to keep them or not.”

Patel discussed consumer needs, business fundamentals, and watershed moments that credit union leaders should be paying attention to — including cybersecurity, data privacy, and how important information is to the consumer today compared to a decade ago, given data breaches and other scenarios.

Toward the latter half of the discussion, three credit union CEOs joined Patel on stage to discuss member engagement, risks, rewards, examples, fintech, and other issues daunting credit union planning these days — as well as success stories. It included Nader Moghaddam, CEO of Financial Partners CU; Erin Mendez, CEO of Patelco CU; and Joan Opp, CEO of Stanford FCU.

Stay Engaged During REACH
Attendees and League staff will be sharing photos, comments and memories through Twitter (@CUatREACH), Instagram (cuatreach), and the REACH Photo Galleries.

REACH is one of the credit union industry’s premier annual events, attracting leaders and system partners from across California, Nevada and the United States. This year it’s held from Nov. 1 – 4 at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa in Palm Desert, CA!

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