The Decision Maker

Austin Wentzlaff

Recent Posts

The Death of the Branch: A Lesson About Credit Union Data

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Dec 14, 2018 11:01:00 AM

The way we think about credit union data these days doesn’t mesh with what’s actually happening in the industry. Credit unions now have access to more data than they ever have. Failure to leverage that data though? That’s where you should be concerned.

Let’s walk through an example: just over 20 years ago, Amazon entered the book retail market. Their mission was simple: deliver personalized experiences to its customers and make each interaction unique and customized to the individual.

At the time, Amazon was just one man, Jeff Bezos, selling books out of his home. For the book market retail giants, Amazon was hardly a threat, just some crazy guy trying to compete with very large and long-established institutions. Companies such as Barnes and Noble and Borders Books had well over a thousand retail locations and were selling books hand over fist.

Well, we all know how that story ends—Amazon is one of the top retailers in the world and Borders Books is now bankrupt and Barnes and Noble is struggling.

Failure to properly leverage credit union data may hurt as many branches as Amazon hurt bookstores. Basically, the outlook is grim. 

Declining Emphasis on Branches

In the past, credit union success was closely tied to the number of branches it could open. The more branches, the more members, the larger volumes of deposits and loans, and the greater the success of the credit union. All of this success is measured by credit union size rather than credit union data.

As we’ve seen in other industries such as Amazon versus the book market, this has started to change dramatically. The emphasis on the branch at credit unions has since gone away. Members are now looking to more convenient avenues to do their financial transactions.

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Topics: Credit Unions, Branch, Data Analytics

Why Analytics is a Credit Union Industry Opportunity

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Oct 10, 2017 11:08:00 AM

Analytics has been a prevalent topic for many years but never more prevalent in the credit union industry than it is today.  Just a few years ago, the topic hardly came up, but in 2017, it’s hard to find a credit union not talking about, or planning and budgeting for a proper analytics solution.  This excitement about analytics has gathered widespread attention, involving industries, companies, and individuals new to the field of analytics.

Now that there is a lot of buzz around the topic, it is important to understand whose challenge, but more importantly, whose opportunity analytics is.  Analytics is the credit unions’ opportunity.  Not just one individual credit union, but all credit unions – the industry or movement.

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Topics: Data Ownership

Whose Data is it Anyway?

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Aug 30, 2017 11:06:00 AM

By now it’s clear, data and data analytics is an extremely important growth area for credit unions. Behind it all, there is one main motive – monetizing data to its fullest extent.  There is tremendous value to be unlocked from data, and with it, tremendous money to be made by monetizing it.  However, the burning question in the credit union world is: Whose Data is it Anyway?

There are a lot of “solutions” out there to help credit unions leverage data to their fullest extent. Whether it be an analysis on the loan portfolio to increase net interest margin or a next best product analysis to increase the number of products per member.  All are extremely beneficial to the credit union’s top line, bottom line, and members.  Yet, how we get to these analytic outputs is extremely crucial.

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Topics: CUSO, Data Ownership

CuOS – A Platform for Credit Unions Similar to Apple iOS

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Jul 31, 2017 9:02:00 AM

Apple has made a tremendously successful company off of one thing… Is it the iPhone, iPad, iPod, or Mac series? No.  What makes Apple so powerful and successful is not its products, but rather the ecosystem it’s created through its standard operating system, the iOS.  An operating system or “platform” that enables its users to connect with the rest of its users as a community and its developers.  With this common platform, all users are on a level playing field with a similar access to all “apps” and services that have been created on the platform – rather than each user building everything themselves.

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Topics: Data Analytics, Collaboration, CU Analytics Ecosystem, Insight Platform

Big Data vs. Little Data: Part 2 - The Steps to Data Analytics Mastery

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Feb 14, 2017 11:03:00 AM

In my previous blog, Big Data vs. Little Data: Part 1 - Structured and Unstructured Data, I discussed the two main types of data that should be top of mind for any organization thinking of becoming truly “Data-Driven.” In the world of data and data analytics, credit unions must leverage ALL the data accessible to them but the journey of mastering data analytics can be very tricky.

Determining the right tools will be critical.  When it comes to data and data analytics, the order in which you introduce new tools is extremely important.  In order to make each step up the analytics curve effective as the last, credit unions must consider the following steps:

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Topics: Big Data, Data Analytics, Data

The Death of the Branch: A Lesson for Credit Unions

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Nov 8, 2016 11:08:30 AM

Just over 20 years ago, Amazon entered the book market with a simple mission – deliver personalized experiences to its customers and make each interaction unique and customized to the individual.  At the time, Amazon was just one man, Jeff Bezos, selling books out of his home. For the book market retail giants, Amazon was hardly a threat, just some crazy guy trying to compete with very large and long-established institutions – companies such as Barnes and Noble and Borders Books which had well over a thousand retail locations and were selling books hand over fist.  Well, we all know how that story ends - Amazon is one of the top retailers in the world and Borders Books is now bankrupt with its failing assets being absorbed by Barnes and Noble, which is still struggling today.

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Topics: Branch, Disruption

Big Data vs. Little Data: Part 1 - Structured and Unstructured Data

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Aug 4, 2016 11:06:00 AM

It’s clear now: Data can be one of a company’s most valuable assets if properly stored, managed and analyzed.  What’s unclear to many however, is what data is the most valuable and how to harness the value of each type of data.  There are two main types of data: “Big Data” and “Little Data” or, respectively, unstructured data and structured data. Both types of data can deliver a significant amount of value to a credit union. However, figuring out how to harness each type of data can be a challenge when dealing with the array of different data sources. Finding a healthy balance is key to delivering value without succumbing to analysis paralysis.

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Topics: Big Data, Data

Financial Landscape Developments: Blockchain’s Impact and FASB’s New CECL Comments

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on Jun 21, 2016 11:52:37 AM

The financial services industry is being constantly challenged with new regulations and outside threats. Two important developments in the financial world recently that are worth noting are the immense growth in blockchain technology utilization, as well as the impact of the Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) recent comments on Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL) guidelines. These are both undoubtedly items to keep top-of-mind, as they are impacting institutions from community banks and credit unions to the large banks. 

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Topics: Big Data, Blockchain, CECL

6 Steps to Analytics and the Tools Needed

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on May 12, 2016 1:05:04 PM

A common misunderstanding with data analytics is how and when the various “tools” are used.  Many think that a great data visualization tool (e.g. Tableau) will solve all of an organization’s problems.  Often overlooked, however, are the many steps it takes for an organization to get from data ground zero to becoming completely analytically proficient.  When it comes to data management and analytics, the order in which you introduce new tools is extremely important.  In order to make each step up the analytics curve effective as the last, credit unions must consider the following steps:

  1. Data Access – The first step in an analytics strategy is simply getting access to the data necessary for analytics. Although this may seem like a fairly easy task, credit unions may find it difficult to get access to the data they are looking for.  It may be due to the level of skill needed to the extract the data or due to a vendor’s unwillingness to provide the data.  Whatever the challenge might be, data access is an extremely important task in becoming analytically proficient and will need to be tackled right away.
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Topics: Big Data, Data Analytics, Blockchain

In Case you Missed it: CBS' 60 Minutes on Banking Disruption

Posted by Austin Wentzlaff on May 2, 2016 12:04:30 PM

At OnApproach, we have been talking a lot about the imminent threat of industry-wide disruption of Financial Services spurred by the rise of new start-ups and technology (known now as FinTech). Credit Unions and banks alike are on the cusp of experiencing unprecedented competition in the form of new innovations from non-traditional competitors looking to take a piece of the financial services pie (e.g. Apple). This is the primary driver for our Analytics and Financial Innovation Conference being hosted this June: http://www.axficonference.com/

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Topics: FinTech