Robert Herjavec’s advice for credit unions: add constant value to your show

The businessman and TV star said new technology meant businesses have to work harder to hold on to their customers

Changing technology means credit unions have to work harder to hold on to members, with new threats to customer loyalty, Robert Herjavec warned the World Credit Union Conference.

Mr Herjavec, a Canadian millionaire well known in the USA as a Shark Tank investor and Dance With The Stars contender, told delegates in Vienna about his origins in Varaždin, Croatia, in the former Yugoslavia.

His father had been incarcerated for speaking out against the communist regime and when Robert was eight, the family moved to Halifax, Canada.

After the move, they joined a Slovenian credit union to gain access to financial services.

“Joining a credit union seemed very personal to them,” he said. “When things are moving quickly, when you have a financial institution that is very personal, is an advantage.”

But he said times were changing and asked credit unions how they were changing to accommodate an entire generation of young people for whom online services and accessibility were key issues.

“You can get a lot of customers on the internet but if you have a security breach, customers can easily leave you and go somewhere else,” he warned. “Customer loyalty doesn’t exist any more unless it’s value added.”

He said his parents had never considered leaving their credit union – but “that world doesn’t exist any more.”

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“You have to add constant value to your show,” he added. “The opportunity doesn’t come to you, you have to grab it.”

Mr Herjavec started his company, Herjavec Group, 13 years ago with only two employees. The firm offers comprehensive protection to minimise cyber attacks and threats. The business initially took five years to get to US$6m in sales but has grown to include 300 people, achieving sales of US$200m.

Referring to his experience on Shark Tank, Mr Herjavec advised delegates to seek feedback and not be afraid of rejection.

“We used to invest in things we knew, now we invest in things they think the consumer at home will buy,” he saID, adding he had invested in an inappropriate ugly Christmas clothes line. The initiative has since developed into a US$17m business.

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