Each year the Customer Owned Banking Association (COBA) brings together mutuals, credit unions, and other financial institutions from all over the country to connect over industry challenges and changes. Although the convention was hosted virtually this year, the core goal remained the same; to share our knowledge and take home actionable and valuable insights for our own companies.
Here are our top takeaways and trends to note from the conference.
Self-disruption is key
“Change and disruption are to be expected and if you cannot change you will die out”.
The conference opened with a cracking session delivered by Gus Balbontin—advisor, investor, and “alternative futurist”—on how to prepare and adapt to change.
Balbontin delved into the digital transformation of the past two decades and shared stories of his time as the CTO of Lonely Planet, insights on how to thrive during tumultuous changes, and how today’s business leaders can capitalise on the current industry disruption.
Balbontin’s key to adaptability?
“Self-disruption”, he said. For customer owned banking institutions, that means looking at your most important asset—your people— and encouraging them to be disruptors.
“Change your routine”. Take a different route to work, order a new type of coffee, try another breakfast food. Balbontin suggests our brains crave novelty and the more we invite that into our lives, even at the smallest level, the better positioned we are to adapt and disrupt at work, to the benefit of members.
Staff crave more human connection
“The future of work is hybrid and it’s here to stay”, said Sue Williamson.
Now that’s no surprise. We all know it (and those that don’t are in for a rude awakening). Employees demand more flexibility and are no longer afraid to leave unfavourable working conditions. “1 in 3 carers and parents are actively looking to change jobs…due to work and family life conflict”, shared Emma Walsh, CEO of Parents @ Work.
But the other side of the working-from-home coin rarely gets exposed. In reality, many staff crave more of the human connection found in an office environment. Increased collaboration, friendship, comradery, and a greater sense of purpose were cited as reasons why in-office attendance is necessary, not only to the business, but to the individual employee’s sense of wellbeing.
Paul Lewis, CEO of Great Southern Bank, even went so far to suggest having a best friend at work is a good sign of healthy connection to the business.
But how can a company balance employees’ cravings for more in-person connection with their desires of working from home?
“We’re being more flexible in our recruitment practices—when we find the right people interstate they remain remote—but fundamentally we’re coming back to work. People need people”, said Mark Sievewright, President of Sievewright & Associates. “It’s a work in progress.”
Increased scrutiny for mutuals and credit unions
One clear theme emerged from Ben Murphy and Chris Noble’s address. The Deloitte executives shared concerns over increasing regulatory scrutiny of mutuals and credit-unions.
“There will be increased supervision and enforcement across the mutual banking sector, now assessed as medium risk by AUSTRAC. (We will see) continued assessment of how reporting entities are incorporating appropriate governance and oversight of the AML/CTF program.”
In particular, Murphy and Noble predict AUSTRAC will continue to scrutinise and expand its regulatory oversight on third party and outsourced provider usage, which includes most mutuals, as reporting is often done through third party payments providers.
So what can mutuals and credit unions do to mitigate risk?
Noble and Murphy suggest four key areas of focus:
Conduct independent reviews of the AML/CTF program and ensure the program includes monitoring and assurance processes
Provide adequate resources and authority to enable AML/CTF compliance officers to carry out their role, including open access to board and senior management
Conduct comprehensive risk assessments frequently to identify emerging risks, and apply risk-based controls
Structure your AML/CTF function appropriately to meet the needs of the business and ensure it is well-resourced
If you missed Identitii at COBA…
Identitii was exhibiting at COBA to discuss the changing AML/CTF reporting landscape and how customer owned banking institutions need to think about AUSTRAC reporting.
Whether you report directly to AUSTRAC or via a third party provider, you still need to know reporting is complete and accurate. Regulators have been particularly vocal about that over the past year.
Identitii works with financial institutions to automate compliance reporting to AUSTRAC.
Our platform takes disparate data from across multiple systems, combines it to give you a single-view over your IFTI and TTR transactions, and automatically reports to regulators.
To learn more about how you can reduce the risk of non-compliance in a secure and effective way, view our automated AUSTRAC reporting platform here.