CFO Focus: Digital Transformation as a Shared Vision

February 2018: Vol 41 No 2
Arnie Goldberg
CFOs, CMOs and CTOs must together harness financial wisdom and analytics to make the best possible tech spending decisions.
Digital image of numbers being crunched by gears

Ask most credit union C-suites to describe their digital transformation goals, and chances are the CMOs and CTOs will be brimming with ways to leverage data, analytics and technology to become even more member-centric. 

Query the CFOs, though, and a different set of priorities will often emerge. That’s because many CFOs—long accustomed to acting as the voices of caution—have learned to restrict their input to coming up with ways to pay for it all. 

If this dynamic sounds familiar, your credit union could be shortchanging itself when it comes to developing its digital transformation strategy. Remember, it was Silicon Valley tech pioneer and Hewlett-Packard co-founder David Packard who once famously noted that, “Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” 

Our solutions consulting team here at PSCU believes that only when CFOs, CMOs and CTOs treat digital transformation as a shared vision—rather than a zero-sum game of budgetary winners and losers—will silos break down, playing fields be leveled and the best possible spending decisions get made. 

3 Strategies to Turn CFOs Into Information Rock Stars 

Let’s take a look at three ways that CFOs can effectively contribute their unique points of view and expertise to their credit unions’ digital transformation efforts: 

  1. Implement serious—and seriously specific—calculations for marketing ROI.

    For years, the marketing gold standard for many credit unions has been the desire to deliver the right offer to the right member at the right time. Now, the same digital analytics that are allowing credit unions to craft such personalized offers are also providing data-driven ways to measure their return on investment. 

    Marketing attribution models quantify which members and prospects are responding to which products through which touchpoints and channels. Reducing the guesswork about which marketing messages are connecting with buyers at various stages of the purchase journey creates a win-win scenario: credit unions optimize marketing spending and members maximize product fit and value.  

    CFOs have a vital leadership role to play in helping CMOs identify the marketing metrics—such as member-acquisition cost, member-retention cost and media lead generation efficiency—that matter the most and developing the marketing attribution models to track them.  

    But will CMOs shoot the messenger? Korey Thurber, chief analytics officer at global marketer Harte Hanks, San Antonio, reassured CFOs in a 2017 interview by pointing out that developing a fully transparent marketing ROI attribution model allows marketing and finance stakeholders to unite behind the shared goals of optimizing media, channel and customer spending to maximize return on investment.

    What does an effective spending attribution model look like? Harvard Business Review passes along some detailed formulas and big picture guidance from Jill Avery, senior lecturer at Harvard Business School: First, focus on what delivers customers and sales. Then, use those findings to allocate future spending and assess which marketing messages are attracting leads. 

    And leave room for surprises. For example, when Jessica Duncan, Advisors Plus program manager at PSCU, used attribution tracking to evaluate a checking account acquisition campaign conducted by $1.4 billion Pen Air FCU, Pensacola, Fla., she discovered unexpected sources of cross-sale revenue and direct mail advertising effectiveness that she could use to precision-target the credit union’s follow-up campaign spending. 
  2. Utilize dashboards and at-a-glance data visualization tools to share insights.

    When Excel is your second language, it’s easy to forget that not everyone shares your fluency with spreadsheets. Why not heed the timeless advice that a picture is worth a thousand words by translating your business intelligence into dashboard, chart or infographic form? 

    Free or low-cost software from Microsoft, Google, Tableau,, Canva, Piktochart, Infogram and Venngage can help even the most quantitative CFOs channel their inner graphic designers and better connect with and communicate the information contained in their reports.

    What’s more, the data you visualize doesn’t need to be proprietary to create extraordinary value. For example, PSCU’s solutions consulting group recently created a cutting-edge diagnostic tool that generates competitive insights from quarterly National Credit Union Administration 5300 report data and presents those insights as a set of dashboards that include personalized prescriptive advice. 
  3. Spotlight your credit union’s openness to using digital financial modeling tools. 

    CFOs who evangelize their dedication to the principle of managing based on measurement (to paraphrase Peter Drucker) will quickly attract a tribe of like-minded industry peers eager to share ideas and tools.

    For instance, our PSCU solutions consulting team has recently launched a detailed interactive financial modeling process aimed at helping CFOs develop and analyze attractive and profitable credit card reward programs. We welcome any CFO who’d like to give us feedback.

In that way, we hope to validate our belief that starting with a marketing need and addressing that need through careful financial analysis represents the way forward for credit unions, their members and the digital transformation initiatives that will serve everyone best in the future.  

Arnie Goldberg is VP/Solutions Consulting at PSCU, St. Petersburg, Fla. Goldberg draws on more than 30 years of consulting, CRM, payments and funds transfer expertise to help credit unions achieve innovative, measurable improvements to their products, operations and profitability.  

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