Chief Data Officer, Christmas Clubs, Better Blogging

Five can't-miss data points this week on

This week, breaks down the work of a Chief Data Officer, learns how a Louisiana credit union runs its successful blog, shows how affordable foundational changes can be, and more.

Here are five can’t-miss data points:


John Sahagian describes himself as a data nerd at heart, and his 25-year career at BCU tracks the development of business intelligence as an emerging cross-silo discipline at today’s modern member-owned cooperative. Sahagian was named BCU’s first chief data officer in July 2018, after seven years as vice president of marketing and business intelligence. External and internal data were key parts of that process, and now, as chief data officer, Sahagian is charged with executing the credit union’s overall data and intelligence vision across strategies and systems, including spending approximately 25% of his time on design and utilization.

Read: What’s In A Name: Chief Data Officer


There’s more to running a successful blog than having a URL and keyboard. Frank Kerner, marketing supervisor at Pelican State Credit Union, knows this well. Since mid-2016, his credit union has run Pelican State of Mind, a website that’s packed with information about family, fun, and, of course, finance. Its content runs the gamut from thoughtful to irreverent posts have included How To Save Money On College Text Books as well as History Of The Rougarou: Louisiana’s Werewolf and that variety has helped the $400 million shop develop a statewide readership. Since the blog’s inception, the credit union has maintained a strict weekly update schedule. Readers know when to expect new content, and credit union contributors know to stay on deadline.

Read: How To Live The Pelican State Of Mind


With nearly 2.5 million members in a state with 10.4 million people, State Employees Credit Union has a considerable impact on North Carolinians as a provider of affordable, responsible financial services. But the nation’s second-largest credit union (and largest state charter) adds to that impact via grant funding through its SECU Foundation. The bulk of the funding for the SECU Foundation comes from a monthly $1 donation taken from members checking accounts. That donation began as a monthly maintenance fee on all checking accounts, but under then president and CEO Jim Blaine, senior management seized the opportunity to create a foundation in 2004 to address the requests for support and sponsorships that come in across the credit union’s sprawling branch network.

Read: Making Foundational Change $1 At A Time

$730 Million

The National Retail Federation projects consumers will spend a record $730 million in November and December 2019, up by as much as 4.2% over last year. At the same time, Americans are expected to take on an average of $1,100 in holiday debt through credit cards, retail charge cards, and personal loans. National banks have all but abandoned traditional Christmas Club savings and loan specials, but credit unions across the country are standing behind these time-tested offerings, adding new products to the mix such as pre-approved loan offers, skip-a-payment, credit card deals, and post-holiday debt consolidation.

Read: Tinsel Traditions: Holiday Loan And Savings Accounts Are Alive And Well At Credit Unions


The November mainstream news cycle was dominated by presidential impeachment proceedings in Washington, but financial markets were largely dismissive of any risks related to the matter. The S&P 500 closed the month up more than 3% and Treasury yields were higher across the curve. The trade negotiations between the U.S. and China remain the greatest wild card for risk assets. While a phase one agreement between the two countries was not executed in November, the baseline expectation is that a deal will be reached soon. However, as we’ve learned on multiple occasions in 2019, particularly May and August, there’s certainly a mercurial element to these negotiations.

Read: Trade Remains A Wild Card

Happy Reading!

December 9, 2019

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