19SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Scott Cowan Over the past 25 years, Mr. Cowan has held Executive Technical Sales and Management positions with several Fortune 500 companies including: Fiserv, Qwest Communications and Nokia Internet Communications, Network Security … Web: www.mviusa.com Details In the 1950’s a scientist by the name of W. Edwards Deming worked in Japan helping the country’s post war industry get back on track. In the 80’s a business model called Kaizen was introduced in Japan that would bring continual improvement to quality and consistency across many of the country’s industries making them a well-respected exporter.These pioneering works to improve production, process, and quality levels – especially in areas of manufacturing – would also be adapted worldwide and taught in many U.S. business schools.So what does this have to do with credit unions and technology?Simple, technology and industry changes so rapidly now that it requires continual learning, investment, and focus to simply keep up. But the real question is this: Are you keeping up?Maintaining viable technology practices requires a commitment from the top down including: allocating necessary funds, having a culture of continual learning, and a willingness to evaluate and where to implement newer technologies.I recently spoke with a colleague who sits on many of the financial banking committees and was saddened to learn that we are losing approximately one credit union per day to mergers and consolidation. I was also shocked to hear him say that the same scenario was holding true for the community banks. This scenario means operations are more closely aligning with them and we know what that eventuality means – more regulatory scrutiny and consistent rules and standards for both.Looking down the road in 10 years, I see that business will be more globally centered. Continued migration toward mobile or next-gen financial services is expected and younger millennials will push for ease of use and tech-based financial services.You may disagree with my assessment, but as a society technology continues to change and evolve so quickly that we are forced to keep pace or we end up behind the curve, as well.A good example of this assessment is that I have two college age children who rarely visit their credit union branch. They prefer, instead, to use debit cards, direct deposit, and third party apps to transfer funds to friends for splitting dinners, chipping in for gas, etc.This was driven home to me the other day when my daughter asked me to help her set up direct deposit for her employer. She was concerned because when she opened up her draft account, she did not ask for nor receive any checks. She was now required to supply a voided check to complete the process.Simply put, their financial lives are out in cyberspace.Another example was with my son. This past summer we bought a new vehicle for him to attend college and get to his after school employment.The entire loan process was handled online and through email including the application, signing papers, and money transfer to the dealer. No need to set foot in the branch; we just handled everything via a remote channel. Surprisingly, start to finish was probably in the range of 15 minutes or less and kudos to my credit union for this awesome experience!Now, back to the idea of continual process improvement. How do credit unions ensure they are future proofing their business?Invest both time and money in good people who share a mindset of continual self-improvement and provide them with ongoing learning opportunities via CPE courses, attendance at vendor conferences, and PKI’s related to their specific job functions.Make a concerted effort to put a realistic tech refresh program in place, which means keeping depreciation times to around 36 months. Yes it hurts, but not keeping up is more costly in the long run rather than saving a few dollars in monthly expense. (Remember Darwin and survival of the fittest?)Create a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) team that will continually be on the lookout for ways to improve business processes by automating routine tasks and monitoring industry trends so you are not caught off guard by market changes.Invest wisely in technology. Be very careful with complacency in this area but also balance it against being first in line, as well.Adopt an attitude of best of breed. A Swiss army knife is a great thing for MacGyver, but in the real world the right tool for the job is always the best – and, yes, it will be a bit more costly and require more effort. Not doing so may be the difference between thriving and hanging on, however.Choose business partners that can help you get where you want to be. This choice touches on the best of breed concept. In reality, if you have good partners, they can provide an exponential amount of help so you can achieve your goals because their survival in a shrinking market place is also predicated on your success with their solutions.Set goals that will stretch your abilities but make sure they are obtainable. Obviously, trying to accomplish too many projects at one time will not get you the results you need. Prioritizing, focusing, and executing on a realistic number of them will.Hire or assign a trained and dedicated project manager on your more complex projects. The greatest successes I have seen working with large and small organizations alike was their ability to have someone focused on task. Additionally, support from the management team and access to the resources both internal and external are essential to successfully accomplish project goals.Budget, budget, budget with time, money, resources, etc. Failure to properly plan and budget is probably the greatest threat to a successful project outcome.Make it a winning proposition for all stakeholders internal, external, and for your members, as well. Everyone involved must have a clear idea of expectation and outcome, and a positive buy in to the project.I am sure there are many things that could also be added to any of these discussion points. But the reality is unless we are like W. Edwards Deming or adopt an attitude of Kaizen’s continual improvement, we are going to be left behind.
Investments at Finnish State Pension Fund VER returned 6.4% last year, with equities producing enough profit to offset a 1.8% loss on fixed income holdings.Reporting figures for 2013, the pension fund said the market value of investments rose to €16.3bn at the end of the year from €15.4bn at the end of 2012.VER transferred nearly €1.7bn to the state budget, up from €1.6bn the year before.The contribution was more than the pension contributions received by the fund of €1.63bn, the fund pointed out. The year before, the pension fund had received more than it transferred.Managing director Timo Löyttyniemi said: “VER has moved into the role of balancing pension costs.” This development was assumed to continue, he said.“Over the coming years, VER will increasingly balance the pressure of the rising state pension costs,” he said, as the return on investments in the short and the long term had remained at a good level.The 2013 return undercut the previous year’s 11.3% investment profit.The fund said the strong rise of the equity market was the most important factor contributing to overall profit.On the other hand, the year was particularly hard for fixed income investments, it said, with interest rates low as a result of expansionary central bank policies in the wake of the financial crisis.The fixed income loss of 1.6% compares with a profit of 8.8% generated by the asset class in 2012.Equities produced 18.2%, up from 16.8% the year before.The highest returns within equities came from investments in developed countries, VER said, with Finnish shares providing the highest returns at more than 30%. Returns on emerging market equities, however, finished mostly negative at the end of 2013.VER said it was a big net seller of equities at the end of the year following the strong performance.Allocation to the asset class subsequently stood at 39.9% at the end of December, only slightly higher than the 38.4% share the fund held a year before.
Overseas couples wanting to get married in Guyana may be thwarted by the delay in acquiring their marriage certificate.This was according to the Director General of the Tourism Department, Donald Sinclair during the launching of the 10th annual Wedding Expo on Friday evening at Roraima Duke Lodge, Duke Street, Kingston.He stated that the process of acquiring a marriage licence could be a setback for couples coming to Guyana to get married and may be the reason why Guyana is not listed as a tourist destination for weddings.Director General of the Tourism Department, Donald SinclairThe Director General however noted that the Tourism Ministry is working closely with the Citizenship Ministry to resolve this issue and more so, to reduce the amount of time a couple has to wait before receiving their certificates.Sinclair said the law requires a newly wedded couple to spend 14 days in Guyana before the marriage certificate is acquired.“We need to pay attention to the legislation which will make it more attractive for persons to get married here, that in itself has been a setback for many years so now we need to look at it from a tourism standpoint,” Sinclair said.Nevertheless, he noted that if the destination idea is taken much more seriously, Guyana can grow as a wedding destination.Brainchild of the event, Captain Gerald Gouveia, while delivering his address urged Government to change the legislation highlighted by Sinclair.“People leave to go to Jamaica to get married, people leave to go The Dominican Republic to get married; those countries are beautiful but Guyana is amazing, imagine getting married at the Kaieteur Falls or at Orinduk Falls or in the Rupununi or at Baganara. Young people would love to come to Guyana to get marries but can’t so we are using this Wedding Expo as a platform to urge the Government to look into the legislation,” Gouveia noted.Gouveia further stated that Guyana has the potential to become one of the most sought after destinations in the Caribbean, while noting that certain framework has to be set.The Wedding Expo, he noted, has been one of such events that can showcase Guyana as one of those destinations over Jamaica – a country where couples flock to get married due to the fact they do not have to wait a long time to acquire their certificates.The three-day affair was launched with great pomp and high expectations with over 40 exhibitors on show.The expo is being used as a vehicle to provide yet another opportunity for a couple to get married under the spotlight.