Economic Forecast at General Session Officially Marks Start Of 2018 Annual Convention

The mission and values of the credit union industry have stood the test of time and today continue to make a difference for members. The content, agenda, events, and vendor activities of this annual convention were carefully planned to provide a dynamic educational, networking, and vendor experience. The program has two tracks of education, one for executives and one for volunteers, as well as a focus on small credit union sessions throughout the three days; however, registrants are encouraged to attend any session they like.

In welcoming attendees to the Convention, Association President/CEO Paul Gentile thanked the credit unions of Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and beyond, noting their “input and participation throughout the year makes us one of the strongest voices in the credit union system.”

Following his remarks, Gentile introduced Max Wolff, of the Phoenix Group, to provide an Economic Forecast. Wolff, who spoke recently at CU Accelerate, peppered his academic presentation with many humorous anecdotes. Noting that the current expansion period, the second longest economic expansion in 85 years, began in 2009, and that recessions occur about every six years, Wolff wryly stated that “politics doesn’t matter to macro-economics, and the current upward trend has spanned both the Obama and Trump regimes.”

Wolff also discussed some reasons why the labor force is shrinking (not the same as unemployment), including the rise of the “gig economy” – or 1099 work force. He explained that, rather than follow a traditional career path, many are opting to start their own businesses and contract their services. Credit Unions, he suggested, could design and implement new specialty products for this demographic to help smooth out their often-fluctuating income flow.

He also explained that, after the big hit from the recession, many highly skilled people lost their jobs and were forced to take positions requiring less experience (hence fewer ‘entry positions’ for young people entering the workforce). Another trend impacting the labor force is the growing use of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation/ mechanization.

Although these changes could have an impact on the way people do their banking, Wolff predicts the bigger disruptor will come from Amazon, Google and Apple as they enter the banking world. Their focus will initially be transactional, but loans will not be far behind. Wolff stressed that credit unions should consider FinTechs as partners rather than disruptors.