Matthew Reidy joined Sandia Laboratory Federal Credit Union ($3.5B, Albuquerque, NM) last August as chief data and planning officer. The position — one that is new to the credit union — focuses on using strategic plans to create a dynamic data analytics framework and governance model.
The New Mexico cooperative was founded in 1948 to serve employees of what is now Sandia National Laboratories. It’s somehow fitting, then, that Reidy is tasked with leading a team to harness the power of data, much like the cooperative’s founders harnessed the power of the atom.
Reidy has more than 20 years of financial services experience and joined SLFCU after a couple of years as a senior vice president at Teachers Federal Credit Union ($9.2B, Hauppage, NY). Before that the Northern Arizona University grad was at Patelco Credit Union ($9.0B, Dublin, CA) and banks in Arizona and California.
Here, he shares his take on his new role in the Land of Enchantment.
Why did SLFCU create the role of chief data and planning officer?
Matthew Reidy: SLFCU created the role to leverage data to support strategic planning and empower the organization to make informed business decisions.
With our data, we can identify trends and patterns that enable us to better understand our members’ preferences and behaviors. Using this knowledge, we can optimize our products and services, enhance our overall member experience, identify expansion opportunities, adjust our risk tolerances, and ensure data-driven insights are integrated into our decision-making processes.
My goal is to make data and analytics a core component of our credit union’s culture and strategy, enabling us to drive innovation, growth, and member value.
What challenges and opportunities does your new role present? How will you address them?
MR: Data and analytics enable us to align our overall business objectives with our strategic planning, but we must address the challenge of managing the data we collect while maintaining data privacy and security and ensuring its accuracy.
To mitigate these challenges, we will continue to prioritize data governance and invest in the technologies and resources to support our data. This includes having clear policies and procedures for data management, developing data quality metrics, and enforcing data security and privacy measures to protect sensitive information.
However, there are opportunities to responsibly use this data to gain insights into our members, allowing us to create personalized offerings that meet their unique financial circumstances. I also see opportunities to streamline operations and enhance the member experience across our digital and physical footprint.
Overall, data and analytics are fundamental in supporting our strategy to redefine the cooperative spirit in financial services.
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What does creating a C-level position that combines data and planning say about the credit union’s commitment to data?
MR: In creating a chief data and planning officer position, SLFCU identified the critical role that data plays in making fact-based decisions to deliver business results. It’s a commitment to using data as a strategic asset that has the potential to provide a competitive advantage.
We want to invest in our capabilities and seek ways to ensure data is embedded into our organizational fabric. This role is responsible for championing the use of data across the enterprise and fostering a data-driven culture while also ensuring data is managed effectively, securely, and ethically.
Overall, this position reflects how the credit union views data as a key to our success in a rapidly evolving industry.
“Our strategy is to be an economic engine for the communities we serve, and I see data as a fuel that powers it.”
What initiatives in place at SLFCU use member data to enhance decision-making and improve member-facing products and services?
MR: We’ve identified six key areas on which we will focus our efforts over the next several years to enable our long-term vision: Talent & Culture, Lending, Digital, Expansion, Brand, and Risk Appetite.
Expansion, for example, will be informed by our understanding of the communities we serve, their diversity, and the needs of our members or prospects who reside there. Our digital capabilities will be enhanced by having a holistic understanding of our members with informed and customized recommendations. And our brand will show up in how we develop our products and services with an intentional focus on delivering a differentiated experience and a greater return to our members.
Our strategy is to be an economic engine for the communities we serve, and I see data as a fuel that powers it.
What are your goals for developing a business intelligence strategy at SLFCU? How would you like to be able to describe the results and program five years from now?
MR: Over the next five years, I envision SLFCU becoming increasingly sophisticated in our data capabilities, moving from a reactive approach to a more prescriptive one.
CU QUICK FACTS
SANDIA LABORATORY FCU
DATA AS OF 12.31.22
HQ: Albuquerque, NM
Initially, our focus will be on establishing a foundation of reliable data and building the necessary infrastructure to support advanced analytics. As we progress in our data maturity, we’ll begin to incorporate machine learning and artificial intelligence, enabling us to automate decision-making and provide personalized recommendations to our members.
At the heart of our data strategy, we remain committed to member-centricity. By making use of our data assets, we’ll be able to gain a deeper understanding of our members, allowing us to deliver more targeted and personalized products and services. For example, we might use data analytics to identify members who are at risk of financial distress and proactively offer them tailored financial assistance programs.
In terms of measurable program results, I expect to be able to point to concrete improvements in member satisfaction in addition to increased membership growth and higher rates of retention. We might also see improvements in financial health indicators, such as increased savings rates or a reduction in outstanding debt.
In addition to these tangible results, I also hope to see a shift in what it means to be a data-driven culture. Ultimately, I believe a strong business intelligence program, integrated with planning and a member-centric approach, will be critical to the credit union’s success in realizing our long-term objectives.
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How do you envision working across the enterprise to create and execute on those goals?
MR: A key aspect of this role is working collaboratively with stakeholders from across the enterprise to identify opportunities where data can enhance organizational results and improve the member experience. By working closely with our business leaders, we can better understand their pain points and develop specific use cases to address them.
We’ll also develop a Center of Excellence (CoE) to support our data strategy. This will involve establishing a dedicated team of experts responsible for implementing best practices for data governance, data management, and analytics.
This team will also be responsible for providing training and resources to help employees across the organization develop the skills they need to effectively use data and analytics in their daily work. Staffed by a team of data scientists, data engineers, and analytics experts, the CoE will work closely with business partners to ensure data standards are consistently applied.
How has your career prepared you for this role?
MR: I’ve been fortunate in my career to have opportunities to experience multiple facets of financial institutions, ranging from working in the branch on the teller line to an analyst managing interest rate risk.
My journey has given me perspective on retail operations, technology, finance, and planning. Every role has supported my development; however, it wasn’t until I started working in the credit union industry that I connect the pieces and realized I had been developing a passion for data and analytics for many years. I recognized how data could drive better business decisions and help solve complex business challenges. It was at this point that I embraced a career in the field of business intelligence.
Reflecting on more than 20 years in the industry, I’m thankful for the experiences that have shaped and equipped me with a deeper understanding of credit unions’ culture, members, and purpose. I also have an enterprise mindset and see the big picture.
How do you stay current with topics that fall under your role?
MR: First and foremost, I read industry publications, journals, and online blogs that cover topics related to data, analytics, strategy, and leadership. These publications provide visibility to emerging trends and new technology advancements.
I also focus on developing my network and collaborating with peers within the industry to exchange ideas, discuss best practices, and share lessons learned. I’ve found credit union leaders to be exceptionally forthcoming with providing information and making time to meet and answer questions.
Lastly, I engage with professional associations and participate in their events and forums. These groups can provide access to resources, research studies, and industry reports related to a specific field. All of these are important tools in my professional development and excellent resources for thought leadership.
This interview has been edited and condensed.