How To Leverage Glatt Consulting

Need a resource to help your credit union define and execute strategy? Look no further than Glatt Consulting, a credit union-focused consulting firm led by 20-year industry veteran Tom Glatt, Jr. We provide credit unions around the country with quality consulting support for a variety of initiatives and endeavors. Learn more about what we offer in this overview of recent projects.

What is Glatt Consulting?

We are a strategy consulting company focused on helping credit unions define distinctive strategies that lead to achievement, growth, and financial health. Since our formation in 2006, we’ve assisted credit union leaders nationally with such tasks as strategic planning, policy development, chartering, branding, mergers, critical vendor selection, and product and service development.

While we employ a variety of consulting solutions to solve any given strategic challenge, our value as a consulting resource is truly found in our personal, situation-specific approach to solving the unique challenges facing our credit union clients. As of late, these challenges have included:

  • Improving Earnings/Profitability
  • Improving Operational Efficiency
  • Increasing Membership Growth
  • Stabilizing Net Worth
  • Increasing Asset Growth
  • Improving Member Relationships (Loans and Deposits)
  • Utilizing Technology
  • Planning for Volunteer and Executive Succession
  • Creating Executive Performance Evaluation Programs

In addition to our quality approach to consulting projects, we also created, calculate and publish the highly-regarded Credit Union Industry HealthScore. The HealthScore is a financial performance score, calculated quarterly, reflecting the financial health of US-based credit unions. HealthScore data is used to provide guidance to the credit union community regarding overall industry performance, and as a support tool to inform Glatt Consulting strategic/business plan, merger, and chartering consulting efforts.

How Have We Helped Credit Unions?

We’ve been involved in a number of varied and interesting credit union projects. In this section we reflect on a few of our more recent projects to provide some background regarding the style and depth of our consulting support.

Online Branch Planning/Project Management

We recently wrapped up the creation of an online branch master plan. This plan maps out the development and deployment strategies and timelines of all aspects of a fully functioning online branch capable of supporting a diverse and geographically-dispersed field of membership. Plan development involved (among many other tasks): identifying online branch design, technology, and functional requirements, projecting development costs and return on investment, analyzing current technology compatibility with plan objectives, developing a development/deployment schedule, vetting vendors, and drafting the plan document for review/approval by the board and senior management.

Charter Change

On two occasions we worked with credit unions to expand from single common bond charters to Trade, Industry, Profession (TIP) charters. One of these credit unions served a health-related arm of a major university with offices in a dense center of healthcare-related businesses. The credit union’s board and senior management determined that growth opportunities were limited given the lack of growth in the core sponsor itself. Credit union leadership was therefore interested in gaining outside assistance in the exploration and pursuit of new growth opportunities.

While this particular project involved analyzing growth opportunities within the field of membership, as well as informal merger discussions with other local credit unions possessing complementary fields of membership, ultimately the credit union decided to pursue the TIP charter. We drafted the business plan and application for charter change, submitted the application on behalf of the credit union, and managed subsequent interactions with regulatory authorities. The charter application was approved.

The other credit union we worked with to acquire a TIP charter requested our support in developing the business plan and managing the charter change application process (they had already made the strategic decision to obtain a TIP). For this client we researched and prepared the required business plan, and in the process conducted a member survey designed to acquire background business plan detail regarding member support for the credit union’s operating model. The TIP charter business plan and application expanded upon the credit union’s service to a single school district with a more broad focus on educational professionals working in a two-county area. The charter application was approved.  

Most recently we developed a charter/field of membership expansion business plan and application, and managed the regulatory application process, for a state chartered credit union. The application, requesting a market expansion of nearly three million people, was approved.     

CUSO Development Study

On two occasions we have worked with credit union management to study and recommend credit union action regarding distinct CUSO business opportunities. One opportunity was for a lending-related product designed to help credit union loan officers quickly identify refinance options based on member credit file analysis. Tasks involved in completing this project included: engaging a beta test group of credit unions to work with the system and reporting back findings regarding product functionality and utility, calculating the size and growth potential of the market, and determining general return on the investment required to fully develop and support the product.

The other opportunity was a CUSO designed to provide cloud-based workflow tools to credit unions. Tasks involved in completing this project included identifying and analyzing competing vendor product functionality and pricing, estimating the size of the market, and calculating profit potential.

Membership Survey and Analysis

We have conducted a number of member surveys on behalf of credit union clients, in almost all cases making use of the Net Promoter survey methodology. Our survey efforts involve querying members using the net promoter standard questions (“how likely are you to recommend the credit union?” and “what is the reason for the score you gave?”), cross-referencing responses with account data specifics such as age of account, products, demographics, financial relationship, and then analyzing the results. In most survey projects we debrief clients on response details and then work with credit union team members to develop response strategy.

Crises Response

We were approached by an existing client with a request to assist senior management in responding to a lending policy violation that led to a substantial write-off. Our task on this project was to work with management to quickly identify and select the strategies best suited to cut overhead expenses without resulting in complete loss of ability to serve member needs.

Our effort resulted in a targeted reduction in staff (both front-line and management) and reorganization of the credit union’s organizational structure and responsibilities. While the credit union’s net worth was substantially reduced, its quick response to the situation coupled with the development of a comprehensive Net Worth Restoration Plan (on which we provided guidance) led over time to a return to proper capitalization and credit union growth.   

Vendor Analysis/Selection

On many occasions we have been called upon to assist in the evaluation and selection of critical vendors, including vendors for home banking, website design, and core systems. We have written up our selection process and posted it on the Glatt Consulting website here: http://glattconsulting.com/2012/04/26/evaluating-and-selecting-critical-vendors   

Strategic Planning

We have supported the strategic planning efforts of credit unions nationwide (including the territory of Guam), with support ranging from basic discussion facilitation to the development of complex business plans, financial scenarios and budgets. We generally work with both board and senior management to define broad corporate strategy, then with senior management to define the tactical actions required to support strategy.

We recently posted strategic planning process overview. You will find it here: 2016 Credit Union Strategic Planning  

Merger Partner Analysis/Selection

We have worked with numerous credit unions to analyze potential merger partners. Projects have included credit unions looking to acquire merger partners and credit unions looking to be acquired. One of our most notable merger projects involved a credit union seeking to be acquired. This credit union was located in a state substantially impacted by the real estate downturn and economic recession. Credit union leadership sought assistance in locating a merger partner healthy enough to absorb projected losses and impaired net worth, and that also operated with a similar service philosophy.

We first worked with the credit union’s board and senior management to identify merger partners healthy enough to support the deteriorating financial environment (the in-depth analysis conducted during this project was the catalyst that led to the creation of our HealthScore system which we still use today to gauge the general health of individual credit unions and the industry as a whole).

We then facilitated discussion meetings between our client and key board and management team representatives from preferred merger partners to determine cultural fit. Finally, we facilitated a decision strategy meeting with board and management team members to aid in their selection of a merger partner.

New Credit Union Charter

We have been approached on a number of occasions for assistance in chartering new credit unions. While most requests are made by individuals uninformed about the cooperative structures of credit unions and/or the capital requirements required to properly support a growing credit union, we did extensive chartering analysis on behalf of a national student loan lender/servicer. Our work on this project included:

  • Educating leadership on credit union cooperative business principles;
  • Facilitating discovery meetings with major trade associations and regulators;
  • Qualifying field of membership opportunities;
  • Developing pro-forma financial projection scenarios and operating budgets;
  • Preparing a preliminary business plan.

As the development of the preliminary business plan was concluded, laws changed with regard to student lending that required the organization’s board to weigh allocating the organization’s financial resources to start a credit union versus reinvesting in organizational change necessary to survive as a resource supporting its existing student loan servicing business. Though the business plan and defined field of membership showed the potential for a highly successful credit union, the board determined that the capital required to support the chartering effort was greater than what it could commit, given the uncertainly surrounding the legislative changes likely to impact its core business.

Note: We published a post covering many of the lessons learned as a result of our work on this project. It is available here: http://glattconsulting.com/2011/10/06/the-credit-union-that-never-was

Mystery Shopping

On many occasions we have been called upon to mystery shop credit union operations (in-branch, call center, tech support, etc.) to gauge the effectiveness of corporate sales/service training and/or the execution of strategic initiatives. Our approach is generally to assess operations, debrief senior management on results, and then work with senior management to develop appropriate response strategy.

And More…

As of April, 2016 we are actively engaged in the following projects:  

  • Strategic planning (process management and meeting facilitation)
  • CEO compensation and performance evaluation
  • CEO succession planning
  • Board succession planning
  • New product launch (for an industry vendor)
  • Training on management/board financial and strategy fundamentals

We’re Ready to Help!

Ready to discuss your credit union’s challenges and opportunities, and delve into how GC might be of assistance in responding? You have options…

We look forward to hearing what you have to say.

Photo Credit: “Menu” by eek the cat is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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