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Key Conference Takeaways from CUNA 2022

By April 11, 20224 min read

The Social Assurance team was excited to join the credit union community in-person by attending the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) Marketing & Business Development Conference! This much anticipated reunion of credit union marketers brought together some of the industry’s most prominent leaders, innovators, and difference-makers.

CUNA 2022 began on March 9th in Los Angeles after a few years of virtual conferences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s conference focused on the details of a post-Covid world and the emergence of the digitally-empowered consumer. From keynote speakers to break-out sessions, this year’s session concentrated on the actionable steps that credit union marketers could take to make a difference in their community. Here are the three key takeaways we gathered from meeting up with our friends at CUNA 2022.

Encouraging Egoless Leadership

It’s no secret that these past few years have put our communities to the test. An often-undiscussed feature is how it also challenged the local leaders in our communities. With CUNA welcoming back in-person attendees, discussions abounded in how leaders could connect, network, and operate in the spaces emerging post-COVID-19.

Keynote speaker Nikkia Reveilla (Business Insights & Strategy Leader, Organization Designer & Building, and Director, Consumer Insights at Netflix) provided her insights on what traits provide for great leadership. Strategy, confidence, and decisiveness are commonly associated with great leaders, but Nikkia demonstrated how the secret sauce that often pulls everything together is leading without an ego. Providing psychological safety, empathy, and an open-growth mindset is vital when leading high-performing teams and, credit unions in particular, have the opportunity to help facilitate these types of environments.

“As we met with leaders from credit unions across the country, the theme of “uplifting” carried through. Leadership wanted to empower their people to shine and like Nikkia said in her session, ‘appreciate that when they shine, you shine too.’ It was evident to me, the credit unions are lifting each other up and in doing so, foster an environment of empowerment,” said Jaime Faulkner, Client Growth Manager at Social Assurance.

Slides during a CUNA 2022 Session

Promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The credit union industry is abuzz with strategizing and executing diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. CUNA showed the many ways in which the world is changing, and how credit union marketers must respond. Breakout sessions like Tracy Jackson’s (President & CEO, HR E-Z), Hiring and Leading a Diverse Marketing and Business Development Team taught about the benefits CUs can receive when building a diverse marketing and outreach team. Effective tips and actions were provided for recruiting diverse talent, avoiding hiring bias, and building a welcoming culture.

But DEI isn’t just applicable to hiring, it is also an essential consideration when creating your marketing campaigns. Khalilah Elliott (Founder and Chief Disruptor, Gafford Communications) encouraged credit unions to lean into their curiosities and be vulnerable.

“Widen the picture, so people see themselves, literally and figuratively, in your work,” Elliott says.

Khalilah provided actionable takeaways for credit unions to complete when they return to the office, like focusing on a new persona, holding more focus groups, and rethinking the stock imagery they use. Khalilah asked two (of many) powerful questions to challenge marketers and leaders to become more aware of their unconscious bias. “What assumptions are you holding on to about who your customers are? And “What blind spots might you have when it comes to audiences who don’t look like you?”

“Seeing DEI initiatives come to the center stage is a huge step in the right direction for our industry,” said Ben Pankonin, Co-founder & CEO of Social Assurance. “I’m excited about these projects and I look forward to working with our community partners on creating a more equitable and inclusive world. Change starts with us.”

Communicating Community Involvement Effectively

It’s no secret that credit unions are leaders in their community, but this year’s conference focused on what we’re doing to communicate our efforts. Volunteerism and involvement are so central to many credit unions that some include it in their brand story – as a few of CUNA’s speakers pointed out. Carrying your brand’s vision throughout all appropriate channels, including on your website to your in-branch displays and even your customer facing personnel is a top communication priority for 2022.  Tracking and communicating the work that your credit union does in the community can help your brand leave a remarkable impact.

“As Jordyn and I met with and learned about the various ways credit unions are giving back, we learned they are passionate about being involved and are giving back in big ways. The gap is in wrapping their arms around all they’re currently doing and sharing their impactful stories with their communities, proving that they are a Remarkable brand.” – Jaime Faulkner

Do you want to discuss some of CUNA’s themes more or did you miss us at the conference? Get in touch with us today and let’s chat!