Don’t Leave your Data to Amateurs

Financial institutions own tremendous amounts of data that can provide valuable insights. How many FIs are taking advantage of this data for their strategic planning, decision-making, or marketing?

Data utilization is not just about mining for shiny objects; it’s also about collecting, aggregating, cleansing, reporting, visualizing, and creating “I think” to “I know” because the data says so. Simple? Not so much.

To begin to use data, a data strategy must be put into place. All of the steps mentioned above take time, money, skills, and resources. It also requires working with outside vendors and partners like wealth management, secondary mortgage market, credit card company, etc. These third-party databases become collection and aggregation challenges, so you can import and use this data.

Data integrity is also a strategic challenge. Before data can be used effectively, it must be trusted. Data trust begins with agreeing on definitions. A customer/member, a household, a service, a product, an active account, an inactive account, and branch assignment criteria must be defined and organizationally adopted. Data integrity also needs to include processes for data input, appending, uploading, and cleansing.

Data also requires ownership by a business unit. Sometimes this ownership is within Marketing, IT, or Finance. The most data-savvy organizations have Data as a separate business unit, often called Business Intelligence.

Often the use of data requires software, an MCIF, and a CRM. These software options can simplify segmenting, assigning, reporting on, and making it visible.

The use of data and running the software requires unique skills. Not everyone knows how to ask the right questions of the data. Few people have the talent to analyze and interpret data and identify key findings. To become a data-driven organization, the data strategy must also include a staffing plan. Data is too valuable an asset to be confined to a part-time task.

Start building a Data Strategy today to leverage the wealth of information hidden inside your core system and other sources.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at


  1. Mary Beth Wilcher on July 12, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    Rich, You’re speaking my language.

  2. Rich Jones on July 12, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Thanks, Mary Beth.

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