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Knowledge Transfer Review: The Case of Credit Unions

Credit unions know that employees are their most important asset, and this study’s purpose is to highlight how credit unions are leveraging employee expertise. The research details current knowledge management solutions in the marketplace.

Executive Summary

Lots of risks and opportunities live on the balance sheet, but many others live on the payroll. Ask credit union leaders across North America to name their most valuable asset, and most will say: “Our people.” These are the people who help members in the branch, balance the books, underwrite mortgages, and respond to complaints on the phone. But ask those same leaders how well they track knowledge management (KM) among those employees, and the silence will be telling.

What is the Research About?

The Filene Research Institute and Credit Union Central of Canada contracted with Dr. Nick Bontis of the Institute for Intellectual Capital Research in Ontario to conduct a research study focusing on knowledge transfer in the credit union system. The research study used a multi-stage, multi-method approach, collecting quantitative and qualitative data from eight credit unions in Canada and seven in the United States ranging from $350 million to $3.5 billion in assets.

Each credit union received customized benchmarking reports in exchange for their participation, and readers of this report can use the same tools to benchmark their own practices against the group. The benchmarking reports include: 1) a qualitative knowledge transfer survey, 2) quantitative human capital metrics, and 3) a preemptive exit interview.

What Are the Credit Union Implications?

The study sample illuminates the knowledge management challenges facing credit unions—and points toward solutions. 

Use the research in this report to put effective knowledge management systems in place.

  • Credit unions are poor knowledge managers. Studied credit unions in aggregate score only 1–2 on a 5-point scale. 
  • Metrics matter. This report contains dozens of ways to measure knowledge management. 
  • Comparisons matter, too. Once you have metrics, peer groups and benchmarks help you finish the job.

This report is sponsored by Credit Union Central of Canada.