Nobody wants to think about problems, let alone disasters of any type, and especially those that can wipe out data or crash large-scale computer systems. Yet, focusing on these realities is exactly what credit unions must do. Whether initiated by natural disasters, hackers or user error, IT problems can, do and will happen.
For a credit union, initial disaster itself is only part of the problem. Without a strong IT disaster recovery plan in place, even greater disasters can result. Such a plan should be considered essential to keeping members happy, mitigating risk and even staying in business. Following are some of the benefits to a credit union of developing a disaster recovery plan.
Probably one of the most important things for a member or customer of any financial institution is access to their banking information, anytime, anywhere, all the time. Consumers today want and expect to be able to view and manage their financial data on a true 24/7, 365-day basis, even in the face of a disaster.
Along with continuous access to data, members want and need to know that their information is secure. Credit unions cannot always prevent problems from happening, but they can very much control how they respond to problems. The lack of a ready-to-go-at-anytime plan puts member data at risk of loss and puts credit unions at risk of loss of members.
Credit unions can face serious repercussions from regulatory entities if they do not appropriately guard sensitive and private member information. A disaster recovery plan is not only an essential way of complying with regulations, but also of exceeding those regulations and mitigating risk.
The process of developing a disaster recovery plan yields detailed data about a credit union’s IT infrastructure and processes. Armed with this information, financial institutions can often identify areas in which they can streamline workflow and save money. Moving from physical servers to a cloud-based infrastructure is one decision that can result from seeing the full scope of a network via the disaster plan.
The complete itemization of every element of a credit union’s IT operations can help during a disaster and at other times as well. Employee theft can be prevented more effectively, for example, because an institution will be able to track every item’s existence and location at all times.
Much work is needed in order to set up a full-scale IT disaster recovery plan for a credit union. However, the payoffs are more than worth the investment.
Credit unions may appear to be akin to banks in some people’s eyes, but, in fact, they are quite different. Yes, consumers can get checking and savings account services, auto loans and more at both credit unions and banks. However, that is about where the similarities begin and end. Credit unions, by nature and by their history, offer a collaborative approach to financial services and financial management.
The early credit unions originated out of a spirit of cooperation, often formed by people engaged in similar lines of work. Teachers’ credit unions and construction workers’ credit unions were commonly known examples of these new financial institutions. The credit union concept included different people coming together to pool their resources so that they could offer services, such as lending money, to each other.
Credit unions started as and remain today not-for-profit organizations. Their goal was to have all members work together as a team for the good of the whole. This is in stark contrast to banks, which have always been run with the goal of generating profits for the organization without concern essentially for the individual contributors.
As the world has evolved, so too have credit unions. Yet, through that evolution, the spirit and role of collaboration have not diminished. The existence of Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSOs) is a prime example of this. CUSOs are groups in which multiple credit unions come together and pool resources to get what they need to serve their members, just as members once did to create individual credit unions.
The cooperative nature of credit unions allows them to be more nimble and responsive to their member needs. A focus on what members need is always at the heart of what credit unions do and offer and how they may choose to change.
Even when upgrading technology systems, credit unions put the needs of members first. Solutions are only really valuable insofar as they truly benefit the end users: the members. Innovative credit unions know this and seek out equally innovative solutions that help them do just this. When these partnerships are found and created, the credit union organization and members together will thrive.
Security of information and 24/7 access to funds and data are some of the most pressing needs of consumers today. Credit unions are well poised to offer these and more to their members, thanks to their strong belief in the power of collaboration.
Millennials have reached banking age en masse and today represent a large portion of potential members for credit unions. Competing against traditional banks for this segment’s business can be done but only with the right approach and intention—and it all starts with really knowing the audience.
Millennials choose what institutions they do business with in large part based upon who engages them the way they want to be engaged, where they want to be engaged and with what they want to be engaged. This, by and large, means online in some form.
Following are examples of what millennials want from a financial institution:
These features are seen by millennials as something basic that any credit union should have. Those that do not offer these online services—or that charge for them—will be quickly off the radar to a millennial audience.
This logical extension of online banking should come as no surprise to credit unions. But, beware—mobile banking does not simply mean access a credit union website on a smartphone, tablet or wearable. It means accessing a credit union mobile app on those devices. Via this app, members should be able to check balances, transfer funds, make deposits and pay bills at a minimum.
Where are millennials? Online. That can be on a website, on social media sites or on social messenger apps. Delivering customer service via all of these vehicles can be a superb way to show millennials that credit unions really understand them—and that is precisely what millennials want and need to know.
Despite what some people think, millennials are very open to mentorship. Not satisfied with the status quo, they thrive on asking questions and respond very positively to those who answer them with respect.
Credit unions can take a mentorship approach with this group in two ways. One is by hiring millennials and making the commitment to be an excellent employer. By doing this, institutions can cultivate ambassadors in the form of millennials.
Another way of doing this is by offering useful financial education targeted to millennials at their phases of life—in college, recently out of college, etc. These would be best delivered in an online forum and should be marketed on social media, via blogs, videos and other avenues where millennials will find them.
At the end of the day, millennials are looking for value. This should come in the form of actual services as well as added value such as education. Credit unions that offer this combination of benefits will find millennials coming their way.
Moving critical business functions to the cloud can be a bit intimidating for credit unions. The lack of physical infrastructure can seem like some type of black magic. The reality, however, is that it can be pure magic. Credit unions can realize many operational efficiencies by taking advantage of cloud-based business solutions.
From better information sharing to reduced downtime, following are some of the ways that cloud solutions can be a profitable business driver for credit unions.
Employees and members alike can access information more quickly and from more locations or interfaces. This lets work get done faster whether in-branch or remotely. Sharing of information between branches may enable employees to better meet in-person member needs, to expedite loan processing or to generate critical management reports.
Cloud-based business solutions are more stable than hardware-based solutions in general. Teams can enjoy reduced downtime and faster recovery when problems do occur. By keeping employees working without interruption, better productivity is achieved. Members also enjoy the benefit of mobile banking or other interfaces that are reliable.
The cost of maintaining a cloud solution is much lower than a traditional hardware system. This is due to the reduced reliance on hardware as well as streamlined IT management. These cost savings allow credit unions to put more focus on work that directly serves and benefits members.
In this day and age, information security is essential. A cloud infrastructure is inherently more secure because all data is consolidated into one place versus being dispersed on a variety of hardware devices. It would be like a home with one door and no windows. Fewer points of entry for hackers reduce the risk of a breach.
Upgrading a cloud-based business solution can be done with little to no disruption to a credit union’s members or employees. Many of these solution upgrades are created to be intuitive so as to reduce the need for employees to face lengthy periods of time while getting up to speed on new technology.
Instead, they can come into work on the day after an upgrade and be productive right out of the gate. Members appreciate this as well because they are not kept waiting at a window or in line because of a new system that must be learned.
Despite the virtual concept of the cloud, the efficiency that credit unions can enjoy from cloud-based business solutions are real indeed.
Technology has become one of the most integral parts of business operations today. This is as true for financial services institutions as it is for many other types of businesses. One of the biggest benefits that technology offers is the ability to reduce the load on employees and help them to be more productive.
However, new technology in and of itself does not create productive employees. There are three elements critical to generating a productivity boost from a new platform or system. First, it must solve a specific problem. Second, it must be intuitive and easy to use. Finally, it must be built with future enhancements in mind.
Technology for technology’s sake rarely delivers positive results. Before choosing to introduce new hardware or software, credit unions should step back and identify what problems they currently face. From there, research should be done to find automated solutions that directly address those problems.
Targeting a real need always gives credit unions a head start in realizing the necessary financial and productivity benefits from their investments.
There can be many ways to quantify quality when it comes to a technology offering and ease of use should always be considered one of the most important. This is because it directly impacts how well employees can make use of it. The more intuitive a platform or interface, the more quickly people can learn it and the more productive they can be.
A smaller learning curve creates more productive employees far sooner which translates into improved ROI for credit unions sooner. It can also contribute to increased member satisfaction because employees can often address member needs with greater ease as they are not forced to spend their time navigating a cumbersome computer interface.
By nature, technology must continually evolve. When selecting a new platform, organizations should keep a keen eye on the ease of integration with current systems as well as the ease of updating over time.
Platforms that integrate more easily with an existing system will result in better and faster adoption rates among employees. Those that are built with future enhancements in mind make it easy for credit unions to add functionality without disrupting employee productivity.
Integrating truly intuitive technology into a credit union can address an institution’s most pressing issues and help employees work more efficiently. Automation planned right can free people up for other tasks without sacrificing quality.
CUProdigy is in the unique position to help Credit Unions ‘Advance Beyond’ by providing a core processing platform that puts the member experience first. CUProdigy empowers credit unions with a comprehensive solution that is both robust and scalable.