Building from the Client Up

June 25, 2018 Todd Clark

Building from the Client Up

“You have to start thinking like a startup.” 

Anyone who holds a leadership position within a legacy organization has been on the receiving end of this piece of advice, likely several times over the last decade. And for good reason. Some of the most powerful companies in the U.S. are also some of the youngest. The startup mentality has proven to be instrumental to market disruption, and in some cases, domination.

But what exactly does thinking like a startup mean? The answer that best resonates with me is: Thinking like a startup means building from the client up. And, designing from the client's viewpoint requires intense listening.  

CO-OP has been doing a lot of listening this year. We have been listening to you through our Co-Creation Councils; Client Experience initiative, leading us to approach everything from our clients’ point of view; THINK, and upcoming CO-OP Roadshow series. This has also been evident through the everyday work of our Client Business Executives, EMT members, Client Services and the rest of the company that supports them.

We have not only listened; we have taken action. As I reflect back on the first half of the year, I am incredibly proud of the progress we have made, driven by what we have heard from you.

The CO-OP Ecosystem. We are developing a comprehensive technology and solutions ecosystem for our clients, enabling them to provide a digitally transformed user experience for their members. Last month at THINK, I discussed my vision for the CO-OP ecosystem and how it is forming to serve both you and your members. You can watch the recording of that talk here to learn more about where CO-OP is heading on behalf of the industry with our ecosystem approach.  

THINK 18. We had a record turnout at our annual conference last month in Arizona, where we focused much of our attention – again – on listening to you, with one-on-one advisory sessions with clients as part of the agenda; and “Power Sprints,” interactive sessions tackling industry and technology issues. We’re now posting most or all of the presentations made at the conference, which you can view here.

COOPER. At THINK 18, CO-OP made an announcement about the future of machine learning and artificial intelligence technology within the CO-OP ecosystem. We introduced COOPER, designed to detect and fight fraud faster than ever before. Positioned behind the scenes as the data-driven “brain” inside of CO-OP, COOPER will be used by CO-OP exclusively on behalf of our client credit unions. Data will be harnessed to incorporate ML and eventually AI to better mitigate fraud and enable greater member engagement. 

I’m pleased to report that COOPER Fraud Analyzer will be launched soon to more than 1,600 CO-OP Shared Branch clients. COOPER Fraud Analyzer is an account-based risk management solution, providing added protection to identify and prevent potentially fraudulent transactions.

CO-OP Shared Branch Transitions. As we make a significant advance in shared branch technology with COOPER, we have also completed a huge step from a strategic business standpoint for the network. In May, we announced the sale of the remaining CO-OP-owned branches to two credit union partners, Public Service Credit Union and InFirst FCU. Finding the most efficient way to operate shared branching is part of our commitment to sustaining and growing the CO-OP Shared Branch network.

Operations/Technology Integration within CO-OP. Thinking like a start-up also led us to rethink our internal organization, specifically the need in today’s dynamic market environment to combine our Operations and Technology resources. By creating one functional area from two teams – under the direction of Nick Calcanes, Chief Operating Officer – we are creating a stronger, more integrated operation to help us deliver seamless and secure solutions for our clients.

$30.5 Million Shareholder Patronage. Our patronage for FY 2017 was a healthy return to our shareholders, ensuring that our own digital transformation process has been a well-balanced one. 

MyCO-OP. Our new client portal provides you with secure, universal access to CO-OP applications through a single, highly intuitive user interface. This is truly a key milestone in the blending of two legacy organizations into the industry’s most comprehensive payments and financial technology provider, one in which we recorded $6.6 billion financial transactions last year. 

Company Values Directed to Serving You. Like the integration of our Operations and Technology teams, this is an internal change with external implications. CO-OP has embraced a four-pillar employee value system as we work together internally to serve you better – work as partners, communicate openly and honestly, demonstrate excellence and champion change. This is how we will work with each other – and with you.

Doing What’s Right for the Member

Doing what’s right for the member is woven into the fabric of the credit union movement and I hope it’s clear that it is woven into every one of us at CO-OP. It’s what sets cooperative financial institutions and organizations apart from the rest. In that regard, you are already thinking like a startup, and have the cultural readiness to mobilize that foundation for the digital transformation of your credit union.

If you have ideas for how we can better build from the client up, I want to hear from you. Please join us for an upcoming Roadshow event near you, or give me or your client business executive a call. Hearing directly from you will be an essential piece to building that dominant financial ecosystem we are building for the future of the movement. 

Todd Clark


CO-OP Financial Services





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