Smart Financial Creates Job Title To Oversee Electronic Functions

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In anticipation of its members' future needs, Smart Financial Credit Union created a new staff position to oversee all electronic member service functions at the credit union.

"As the landscape of the financial services industry continues to evolve, Smart Financial Credit Union recognizes the need to provide our members with the most advanced electronic services available," said Gary Tuma, president.

The credit union believes that Generation Y (those members now mainly in their teens) in particular, will not only want-but expect-its financial services institution to be accessible anytime, anyplace, added Luis Villarreal, First VP of support services.

"I think that generational marketing has become a very real entity for us to be concerned about," he said. "Credit unions have that delicate balance of keeping the member first but remaining competitive. How do we appeal to the new member while keeping our core values intact?"

With technology advancing so rapidly, soon its devices will become a way of life for most. "Ultimately, you are going to do all (your banking and billing paying) on a PDA," Villarreal said.

He said the $280-million Smart Financial wants to be ready.

"The idea is to create something almost like an electronic branch," Villarreal said. "While we have all these services already-ACH, payroll processing, credit and debit cards, home banking-and handle them well, it's not being done from a holistic approach."

Villarreal said officials have typically shared the responsibilities of handling electronic inquiries, including e-mails. "There's been no uniform approach up until now."

More Aggressive Approach

The new position is part of Smart Financial's "more aggressive" approach to member communication. The CU recently expanded its charter to include both Harris and Montgomery counties and changed its name from First Educators CU.

LeAnn Kaczynski, recently hired to as VP of electronic services, will oversee the day-to-day activities and be responsible for streamlining processes, increasing efficiency and reducing costs related to all electronic channels including everything from online banking and bill payment to credit, debit and ATM cards.

Villarreal said Kaczynski's 12 years of CU experience, which includes both financing reporting and e-commerce, made her the perfect candidate for the job.

"We had a hard time finding the right person because I don't think there are a lot of (jobs like this) out there yet," Villarreal said.

Among her first goals, he said, will be to conduct some research to determine the needs of this unique population.

"We know that the electronic member is different from any other kinds of members. So we have to start by figuring out what they need," Villarreal said. "Our vision is to provide more electronic services for them. They shouldn't have to go anywhere but here."

As the former VP of finance for SeaComm Federal Credit Union in New York, Kaczynski oversaw the account and EFT/card services divisions.

Decade Of Experience

She also spent 10 years with Power Federal Credit Union, holding positions in numerous departments and leaving the organization as the vice president of accounting and e-commerce.

"As a new member of the EMS team, our division welcomes the challenge of enhancing e-products and e-services while expanding and improving delivery to our membership," Kaczynski said. "Having spent the majority of my career in the credit union industry, I look forward to helping our members realize their lifelong financial goals."

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