Wow. What a year. I suppose we should have known that 2009 was going to be very ‘unique’ () as we headed into it because of the downfall of the stock market and near financial collapse of the fourth quarter of 2008. That said, I don’t think we really thought that it would affect the credit union industry all that much. After all, the collapse was about ‘big banks’ and ‘Wall Street’ right? – those faceless, nameless giant blocks underpinning the country’s financial system.

But we were wrong. In January things started to rumble in credit union land – and by the end of the month news started to emerge about losses mounting in the corporate system. This led to unprecedented assessments by the NCUSIF to prop up the system and the rest is history. Practically everyone froze as a year or two of operating profits vanished from every credit union in the nation. From a vendor’s perspective everything immediately went on hold.

Given the dour outlook of our clients and prospects you might think that we all had a bad year. Not so! Here at fiVISION we had a very productive year. A couple of projects for major new clients went live, we actually signed a few new deals and we delivered two major new product modules – our Web Loan Application and Wire Transfer Automation products – to the marketplace. Beyond this, we incorporated countless enhancements to our existing memberWORKS and accountWORKS platforms and began to develop the next generation of our product family. All in all – a very good year – one that puts us in a better place to serve our expanding list of clients marching into 2010!

I am also encouraged by what I hear from credit union execs about how they are currently adjusting and their plans to further change things in their respective organizations going forward. The crises of the past year caused just about everyone to really evaluate just what they were doing and how they were doing it. The overall result is that credit unions seem to be focusing somewhat less on the latest-greatest trick to generate raw growth – and more about improving operational effectiveness, strengthening relationships with their existing members and pursuing appropriate growth.

To me, this shift is somewhat analogous to something that we humans should be paying a little attention to during this holiday time – the equivalent of laying off the sweets and eats and getting back to the gym to trim up a bit. Pretty hard to do but oh-so-important in the long run.

So in the final analysis was 2009 a good year or a bad one? It is probably too early to cleanly declare a win by either side … but in my book the good practices that were set into motion bode well for the future.

Merry Christmas everyone … and do count your blessings from this year!