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  • CU Strategic Planning

Leveraging Data Capabilities to Serve CDFI Credit Unions

“How do you know that about our members?”

That’s a common question we get from prospects and clients. We’ve learned the critical nature of deep and comprehensive data for successful certifications and grant applications—something that’s helped us become the leading consultancy for credit unions when it comes to Community Development Financial Institution Fund certifications and FA awards. And we know that as the industry and its regulators become more adept at data analytics, accurate data models will become even more important to the certification and awards process.

Right From the Start

Our data analysis work starts even BEFORE the beginning; when a prospective client credit union reaches out to us about possible CDFI certification, we first review financial and geographical data from multiple sources to gain an understanding of the credit union’s position and potential for eligibility. We don’t want to send a credit union down the road of certification if it’s not likely to be granted, wasting everyone’s time and money. We know these characteristics based on the experience of our seasoned team and the data we work within.

Graph showing increase in certified CDFIs by type of institution

Due to the increase in CDFI certification applications in recent years, the CDFI fund experienced an unprecedented backlog, and many applications submitted in 2021 were not approved until early 2022. CU Strategic Planning clients account for 26 of the 51 credit union certifications granted in 2022 to date.

Building on an Informational Foundation

As we continue through the process of certification or the writing of an FA award application, we’re able to use our research and data analytics to show our clients insights about their credit unions they didn’t even realize. CU Strategic Planning takes the data our clients provide and combines it with government and other reliable information sources that include partners like TransUnion and Callahan to determine:

  • Where our clients are lending

  • What types of members they serve

  • What their capabilities are for growth in particular areas

  • Which products would most benefit their members

  • What the needs are in their communities

Looking to the Future

The financial services landscape is changing, and we’re evolving with it. We’re moving in a direction that will allow us to use this data far more efficiently and powerfully, and we’re excited about the possibilities that will bring. We’re building a framework that will allow us to harness all that information and make it work together to optimize the results for our credit union clients to unlock the opportunities in their communities, for themselves and for their members. We are devoted to helping credit unions achieve a mission that makes a difference in average peoples’ lives.

As more institutions are seeking CDFI certification and grants, and as the entire financial industry is getting more adept with data analytics, the process will become more rigorous and competitive. At $770 million in CDFI Fund awards and 175 CDFI certifications, we’ve been successful in effectively helping credit unions reach more people who need their services. But we will never rest on our laurels. Improving our own data analytics will help ensure we continue to provide unimpeachable data and advice to our credit union clients.

Loan funds still outpace all other CDFI types in the number of base Financial Assistance awards won. Credit unions, as well as banks and holding companies, have been starting to close the gap in the past two years. We won't know until the FY2022 awards are announced if the newly certified CDFI credit unions from most of 2021 and early 2022 (see above) will be reflected in the proportion of awards won.


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