For well over a decade, Credit Union Journal has highlighted its annual Best Practices Awards, calling on vendors, credit union service organizations, trade groups and credit unions themselves to nominate outstanding programs from across the industry with one simple criteria: Results. Throughout November, we've been featuring these credit unions' innovative practices – everything from new branching strategies and unique loans to help members build credit to improving cybersecurity and boosting deposits, it's all here.
Read on for highlights of all of this year's winning entries, and click the link with each item to read the full story.
What's the best way for a credit union to show it's superior to the for-profit banking competition? How about renovating a former bank branch to combine high-tech tools with an emphasis on member service? That was the strategy for Listerhill Credit Union, which incorporated an open floor plan, state-of-the-art ATMs, a tubeless drive-thru and interacive teller machines.
Management hoped that the change would help increase business, address the future needs of members and ensure it was adapting to a changing financial marketplace. The result lowered costs and increased member satisfaction.
With check fraud rising along with adoption of remote deposit capture, Summit Credit Union of Greensboro, N.C. had a problem on its hands. The solution involved different check review protocols and new fraud mitigation technologies, all of which helped the CU ultimately reduce check fraud while improving tellers' decision making.
With lending on a tear, Louisiana Federal Credit Union had a problem many CUs only dream of – they needed more deposits to keep on lending. After a two-month promotion to boost deposits didn't live up to expectations, the credit union tweaked the formula for a one-week "flash sale." The end result? Nearly $2.5 million in deposits in just seven days.
For Enrichment Federal Credit Union, the key to getting members to adopt voice-banking technology and digital assistants was to get staff engaged with the devices. After developing functionality to roll out voice banking via Amazon's Alexa, the $494 million-asset institution spent $5,000 to purchase Amazon Echo Dot devices for every employee and then training them in how to use the tools so they'd be better equipped to help members adopt the technology. While the initial usage numbers are still relatively low, the credit union believes it's on the right side of history, and that those institutions who don't get on board with this sort of technology are likely to get left behind.
It's one thing to add members, but those gains mean little if new members don't use the credit union as their primary financial institution. With that in mind, Bridgewater Credit Union found a way to not only increase core deposits but boost PFI status among members. That strategy included not only removing potential barriers to capturing prospective members but developing sales processes that better enabled front-line staffers to identify the right products for potential members and onboard them effectively.
Darryl Enfield, vice president and chief information officer at Sunmark
With just seven branches, Latham, N.Y.-based Sunmark Federal Credit Union knew it needed an expanded footprint, but that had to be done in a cost-effective way that best served members. So the credit union got creative and thought small, revamping its branch model to include modern touches like no teller lines, smaller floor plans and interactive teller machines. The end result lowered costs and put a focus on service instead of transactions.
In the old days, when consumers needed their account or routing numbers they simply looked at the bottom of their checks. But with fewer people writing checks today, it can be harder to find account and routing information. With a high percentage of inquires to the Wecom Credit Union's call center requesting that information, the CU needed a way for members to digitally access that information themselves.
Arlington, Va.-based The Partnership Federal Credit Union wanted to help members build credit by offering a traditional secured loan. The problem? The members who most needed the loan couldn't afford the required deposit. The solution – which was the brainchild of a loan officer – was a reverse secured loan with a structure, term and pricing designed to better meet the needs of the members the loan intends to serve.
DeLeonard Fincher is the chief engagement officer at CUTX
Improved hiring proceses
The hiring process at Credit Union of Texas wasn't working.
The Dallas credit union’s go-to source for finding employees was posting vacant positions on its online job board, but that process was slow and costly. To make the process more dynamic, the $1.4 billion-asset institution has implemented a multifaceted approach for hiring, including a new style of interviewing candidates. Managers now screen prospective candidates, speeding up the process. Additionally, CUTX developed a new curriculum for its managers that included a full day of training that involved different departments. This gives leaders from different departments a chance to get to know each other and collaborate
With 27 federal audit findings from the National Credit Union Administration in 2017 alone, Glendora, Calif.-based America's Christian CU had a cybersecurity problem. Through in-depth training to strengthen the "human firewall," implementing privileged account siloing, Knowbe4 training and more, the credit union was able to cut audit findings down to just one, reducing its cybersecurity threat reduction plane by 90 percent.
How did Blackhawk Community Credit Union speed up the lending process, increase member satisfaction and lower priting costs? Converting to an e-signature platform and going paperless with a workflow hat expedited loans.
With members employed throughout Silicon Valley, SafeAmerica Credit Union serves a high-tech consumer group that is quick to notice when the credit union's offerings aren't up to date. In order to keep pace with member expectations, the CU dropped an outdated online banking platform and switched to an AI technology. Members had to re-enroll in the new online system, but thanks to deft work by SafeAmerica's staff, online enrollment jumped 42 percent in just eight months.
When Patelco Credit Union needed to not only grow its membership but add active members, the credit union launched a "refer-a-friend" campaign that thanked members for their loyalty while also increasing membership.
The McLean, Va.-based company admitted that it failed to file suspicious activity reports even in cases when it knew about criminal charges against specific customers. The misconduct took place in a unit that served check-cashing businesses and was later shut down.
South African bank's approach to chatbots offers lessons for U.S. players; small lenders embrace automation for latest PPP round; flush with capital, Canadian banks eye U.S. acquisitions; and more from this week's most-read stories.