Kathy Duvall On What’s To Come In 2021

The CEO of SF Fire Credit Union talks about seamless experiences, digital optimization, and operational agility in today’s environment.

Kathy Duvall is the CEO of SF Fire Credit Union ($1.6B, San Francisco, CA). Here, she discusses the enduring impacts and lessons from 2020, the largest opportunities for the industry, and how she’ll measure organizational success in the year ahead.

Kathy Duvall, CEO, SF Fire Credit Union

How did 2020’s challenges impact the credit union industry?

Kathy Duvall: What a difference a year makes. It was just a few years ago that many of us were seeking deposits. Liquidity was high on our collective radars. With the changes in spending and borrowing behaviors brought on by the pandemic, I would guess there are very few of us worrying about liquidity. Now, there are pressures on net worth ratios. On the positive side, at the start of the pandemic many expected loan portfolio performance to deteriorate. So far, this has not been the case as members continue to pay their loans.

What lessons do you hope the industry learned from last year?

KD: Overall, consumers easily adapted to digital channels. Usage in these channels increased and now more than ever, credit unions need to invest heavily in digital and execute quickly. A well thought-out digital strategy is imperative. Personalization within the digital channels is essential if you want to differentiate your credit union from others.

Branch volumes are down. And although I don’t think the branch is dead, consideration must be given to the impact the pandemic has had on member behavior.

Credit unions must lead with agility during periods of constant change. There was not a playbook for how to respond to the pandemic. The ability to quickly change course will be critical moving forward. In our case, I was proud with the speed at which we converted to a remote workforce as well as our success in offering SBA PPP loans.

DEI cannot be separated from our work. It is not a project or initiative; it must be a part of our DNA. This allows the industry an opportunity to serve more people for example, the underserved and ensure a fair and unbiased financial system.


SF Fire Credit Union
Data as of 12.31.20

HQ: San Francisco, CA
MEMBERS: 73,364
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: -2.2%
ROA: 0.22%

What’s the largest opportunity credit unions have in 2021?

KD: Last year proved to us that consumers expect a seamless experience no matter which channel they choose to conduct their business. We need to stop thinking of physical and digital as two distinct things and instead view them from the member journey perspective. Members do not inherently think about the channel they are using. They expect to have their needs addressed no matter which channel they choose. At the end of the day, a member needs to have high and consistent levels of service, regardless of whether it’s in person, over the phone, via chat, or digital. And if they have a need to reach out to resolve a recurring issue, the member shouldn’t have to start over in the resolution process.

What is your outlook for the credit union industry in 2021?

KD: Cautious optimism. We will accelerate execution of digital as well as focus on balance sheet optimization given the pressures on interest margins.

Finish this sentence: The credit union industry will be successful in 2021 if

KD: We manage the impact the pandemic economy is having on our financials including interest margin, growing deposits, and net worth while at the same time maintaining the monetary value proposition that differentiates us from banks and keeping pace with the digital channel ease-of-use that consumers now expect or demand.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Return to 3 Leaders Weigh In On What’s To Come In 2021.

February 15, 2021

Keep Reading

View all posts in:
More on:
Scroll to Top
Verified by MonsterInsights