Harness the Power of Credit Union Transparency

 

Credit unions are, in many ways, the antithesis of big bank operations. The goal of most credit unions is to integrate with the communities they operate in and help serve and educate their members in a bid to be more accessible than larger, corporate-feeling financial institutions.

At the heart of that differentiation is the transparency credit unions choose to have with their members. There’s no need to hide the “secret formula” from the world – a credit union’s job is to share the ins and outs of the financial industry with everyone who has a willingness to learn.

Here are some of our favorite ways you can harness the power of credit union transparency.

Why Credit Union Transparency Is So Important

Many professionals make the mistake of thinking that transparency within their business just means being overly honest – you share even the most mundane details about your operations with your members. But that’s not it.

When you think of credit union transparency, imagine showing your membership base all of your mission, vision, and values, as well as a demonstrable list of how your credit union is consistently working to meet those goals and embody those core tenants. So, how do you create that transparency and make it authentic and valuable for your members?

Share Your CU’s Unique Traits

Credit unions are far more transparent with their business practices than any big bank or other financial institution by virtue of the publication of your credit union’s general information. From business plans to quarterly performance and investment success or failure, credit unions are beholden to their members because the business is almost always owned by those members.

Since everyone is given a stake in the credit union and its success, you’ve already got a great framework for legitimate business transparency.

From there, you can share other unique aspects of your credit union. Do you serve a specific community or industry? Are there other programs that allow your credit union to stand out among the crowd? Lean into these aspects and use them to create a transparent communication line between you and your members.

Financial Education is Key

We are all intrigued when an expert in their field asks something like “Do you want to know my secret?”

Credit unions are the first ones to share their insider expertise with members, and that transparency is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.

Cultivating a financial education program (or multiple programs) boost your business transparency while also showing member and non-members alike that you aren’t gatekeeping your financial planning knowledge, you are willing and able to share it.

Lending Trust is Waning

Because of predatory student loan practices and payday lending, many of today’s borrowers and potential borrowers are very skeptical about the loan process.

Because so many people have seen the negative effect a bad loan can have on someone’s livelihood for years or even decades, it’s more important than ever to focus your credit union transparency on sharing helpful information about the lending process.

There are many reputable credit unions sourcing and creating loan programs ethically and in a way that benefits both the credit union and the borrower. It’s your job to prove to your prospects and your members that you aren’t taking part in less-than-reputable lending practices.

Faster and Clearer Transactions

Big words and complicated programs aren’t what your members are looking for. They want helpful insights given to them in ways they can understand, and they want to be able to manage their finances quickly and easily.

Impressive technology isn’t about creating a complex and intricate solution – it’s about creating real change or momentum with as little effort and friction as possible. This is why your communication efforts with your members are so important.

You have hundreds or thousands of people using your services every day. Chances are, they can give you some great insight into what’s working and what’s not. Make sure those lines of communication are open and easy to access.

Boost Your Credit Union Transparency with Elegant, Member-Facing Solutions

The more you can show your members what you do, the easier it is for them to believe your statements about being transparent. IMS Integration has several member-facing solutions that can boost your credit union transparency, including Online Self Service Forms, Online Courtesy Pay, and Make a Statement.

Communication is a key component of transparency, and IMSI can help you share insights and offer vital resources to your members anytime, anywhere.


5 Autumn Banking Trends to Follow This Year

 

Autumn is a season of change and preparation. The holidays are right around the corner, the summer vacations are all long since passed, and it’s time to start thinking about the new year.

For your credit union members, autumn banking trends can be cyclical – they happen every year around this time – or they can be singular: maybe some of them bought or sold a house this year since the housing market was so hot, or maybe that post-pandemic purchase they’ve been saving for finally happened.

No matter what the first big chunk of 2022 brought, we are now in that transition period from summer to winter, and it’s time to check out the latest autumn banking trends so you can inform and excite your members this season.

Prepping Holiday Finances

Typically, autumn banking trends start changing as the fervor surrounding the holidays begins to ramp up. Your members and their families start planning for their holiday expenses like those associated with gift giving, visiting family members who live out of town, and attending and preparing meals and drinks for parties and other gatherings, big and small.

7 in 10 Americans overspend during the holidays, and this trend is common among credit union members of all ages and socioeconomic statuses.

This is a great time for your credit union to offer quick tips and tricks for keeping these expenses down and creating helpful budgets for the holiday season. By helping to keep your members’ holiday finances in check, you can allow them to create positive momentum in the new year. This will also help you gain their trust as a worthy resource for sound financial advice throughout the rest of the year.

The changing seasons also mean holiday finances that include buying the necessities that come with cooler weather. Members First Credit Union shared some great insights in their fall newsletter about what to buy and what to skip this fall, steering members towards those items that will be on sale, sharing when to capitalize on the largest discounts for certain items, and much more.

Unseasonably Warm Loan Growth

Speaking of holiday finances, this year there’s an autumn banking trend that’s staying warm long after the weather has cooled and the leaves have started falling: loan growth.

According to a recent CUNA news article, the 2022 peak loan season is seeing a longer windfall than normal. Typically, loan growth tapers off heavily starting in early autumn (September, specifically). But the preliminary reports from Q2 of this year showed continued – and unseasonably extended – loan growth.

CUNA reported in September that total loans outstanding in federally insured credit unions increased by $194 billion over the year ending in the second quarter of 2022. That’s a 16.2% increase that, if the trend continues, could see credit unions hitting 20% loan growth this year. This is the fastest loan growth pace since 1985.

Increased Focus on ATM Safety

With crisp autumn days come dark autumn nights – as the days shrink and sunset comes earlier, many credit unions are urged to remind their members about key ATM safety tips.

Members should be reminded to do their transacting in the daylight whenever possible and to stick to well-lit parking areas and ATM offerings to keep themselves out of harm’s way. Sikorsky Credit Union shared a list of ATM best practices to follow, like “always bring a friend,” “Have your card ready,” and “be aware of your surroundings.” We think it’s a great autumn banking trend for your credit union to get into as well.

Autumn is also a great time to upgrade or advertise your online and mobile banking options to those members who may not be familiar with or aren’t yet using these credit union resources. Inclement weather and safety concerns are valid reasons to use these services, and they’re extra convenient for your members, too!

Discuss Your Members’ Financial Goals

Another great autumn banking trend is to offer to sit down with your members to discuss how their 2022 went financially and talk with them about what they’d like to achieve in 2023. As this year comes to a close, most adults are already aware of the financial situation they will be in when the new year starts – and they’re either content with that situation, or they will be hoping for a better start to 2023.

You can create valuable offerings and tout your latest resources and financial education services to help them start the new year off right.

Focusing on Employee-Member Relations

Because the holidays are often a time of reflection, it’s also a great time to focus on your staff and their relationships with your members. Customer service is often lacking in today’s business landscape because so much of the human experience of shopping and working through issues has been automated, it’s easy for your members to feel left out, and for your employees to feel disconnected from your member base.

Fall is a great time to reorient your employees toward your members. Focus more on building relationships and less on creating the quickest interactions possible, create avenues for member growth through this familiarity that will have them feeling like they are being cared for as more than just an account number in your computer system.

Help Your Members with Their Holiday Finances and Beyond

As you head into the holidays and the new year, your members are looking to the future and trying to figure out their holiday finances. You can help them with your expertise and your implementation of some elegant member-facing web solutions that put the power back in their hands.

IMS Integration Make a Statement software allows you to communicate with members, meet compliance requirements, and send custom credit union eStatements and eNotices to keep your members up to speed in the new year.


CXO: Why Your Credit Union Needs a Chief Experience Officer

 

There are c-level positions that are popular over the decades like CEO, CFO, and COO – but there are also ones that evolve or even come and go as the market, economy, and workplace change.

One great example of this is the CXO – right now, the Chief Experience Officer is a role that is becoming more and more crucial to a business’s success.

A Chief Experience Officer, or CXO, whose primary job is to ensure a business is generating positive interactions with its customers. Credit unions and other organizations may have this same goal as a company, but not all of them have a c-level executive whose sole purpose is to keep their finger on the pulse of all member interactions.

So, what does that mean for your credit union? Here are our top reasons why your CU needs a CXO.

You Can Collect Data, But You Can’t Quantify Your Member Experience

Just as CFOs and CEOs are tasked with looking at the big picture, your CXO is looking at the whole of your members’ experiences and using data, tools, and member-facing conversations to create that picture.

Your credit union has a staff with varying degrees of experience with your member base. And your loan-specific roles will likely be experiencing something very different than your drive-thru or online banking associates are encountering.

The Chief Experience Officer is the aggregator of all of these experiences and many more. Your digital insights into your members and their banking habits are just the tip of the iceberg. There could be long-standing, institutional pain points that you have been missing with a more granular approach. A CXO offers a comprehensive review and strategy for the whole of the member experience, not just specific services or products.

The CXO Facilitates Internal Integration

By creating and hiring for a role that must talk to all departments and specialties within your credit union, the CXO is primed to create more opportunities for meaningful integration.

While it’s often easy to understand when an outside consultant tells you that you have a single high-level area that needs work, it’s hard to see that for yourself when you and each of your employees are a piece of a puzzle that you are trying to put together.

The CXO coordinates cumulatively with all areas of your credit union – both internally and externally. In fact, many CXOs have found that the same parts of a process that frustrates employees is also not working optimally for members. But if those frustrations aren’t being discussed because the employees with the issues and the unsatisfied members are never directly interacting or even aware of one another, that pain point sticks around.

But by implementing a CXO role into your operations, your credit union will see an uptick in cross-department collaboration.

CXO Has Oversight of the Entire Member Journey

No matter where you work in a credit union, your interaction with the member experience is tied to that specialty. From IT to customer service to marketing, your view of the member’s journey is truncated.

For a Chief Experience Officer, however, it’s truly about the entire journey. Your CXO can see the member’s journey from start to finish. There aren’t any blind spots that leave out the member’s experiences with online lending or account opening – this eagle-eye view can really highlight some of the biggest and most impactful member trends that are helping (and hurting) your business.

By monitoring member interactions as part of a whole member journey, CXOs aren’t just optimizing one product journey. They’re studying the complete life cycle of your members.

CXO Is the Member’s Highest Advocate

By working closely with the member’s experience, rather than using member data as a template to create marketing or revenue growth, your CXO becomes the person at the executive table who represents your members’ voices.

In a rapidly more personalized business world, your members don’t want c-suite executives pitting their needs against the bottom line – they need someone who truly understands how each member is using your credit union’s services.

The CXO is the role that is tailored to searching out members’ concerns, big and small, and finding solutions that quite often please the member and simultaneously satisfy other business operations-minded initiatives.

Strong member relationships will weather storms and disappointing experiences. But no matter how great your products and services are, you can’t out-tech or out-market a bad member experience. If there is no trust built throughout the onboarding and member experience, you can’t expect those members to rely on you when they are in need of financial counseling, loan options, or other banking services.

Enhance Your Member Experience with IMS Integration

The CXO position was created to help businesses meet their members and customers where they are. The same is true with IMS Integration.

We offer digital services and solutions that were curated by credit union experts. Whether you are a CXO liking for ways to digitize your loan application process, or you just want to expand your online self service forms offerings, IMS Integration shares your goals and wants to help you and your credit union achieve greatness.

Check out our elegant, member-facing web solutions today or request a consultation and let us answer your questions!


Credit Union Staff Engagement: How to Boost Your Work Environment

 

We recently talked about how the Great Resignation is affecting credit unions, and though we’ve seen a slowdown in the number of people quitting as we move further into 2022, most predictions show we’re in for some more hard days before things go back to any “normal” employee turnover rates.

It’s important to note that for credit unions, your employee experience and your member experience are inextricably linked. If people like their work environment, the people who pay for and subscribe to that business will be consistently satisfied as well. And since an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, we wanted to share some of the ways you can boost your work environment and company culture through credit union staff engagement.

Start with Unbiased Data

No matter how amazing your credit union’s work environment is, your staff members may not always feel comfortable telling you the harsh truths – especially when those harsh truths could be seen as criticism.

To be able to create and improve credit union staff engagement, you need to have a way to collect honest (and typically anonymous) feedback about current and past efforts and issues.

Third-party engagement surveys can help you collect unbiased data. By putting the effort in to distance your management and executive leaders from the survey process, you will be able to collect more constructive feedback. Many survey providers even aggregate and sort your data and feedback.

This gives you a great place to start when you are considering which engagement strategies you want to implement.

Once you have received the data from your survey provider, you can include your staff in the discussion about how you want to move forward. Many employees around the country skip or disregard surveys sent out by their employers because they assume that nothing substantial will come of the feedback. Others are afraid they may say something that will get them in hot water with management later.

The collection of and discussion about how your staff feels about the engagement requirements and opportunities is a great way for you to show them you value their opinions and input. You can build trust by taking action when your employees come to you with concerns, rather than just dismissing issues with comments like “The management team is discussing how to best move forward” or “If you have questions or concerns, talk to your supervisor.”

That transparency needs to come from both the CU leaders and the employees. Engagement goes up when your employees feel like they’re part of a work environment that encourages feedback and does something to address the common problems people are facing.

Mix Up Your Engagement Efforts

If your idea of engagement is to have a pizza party or ice cream social every month or quarter, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Your staff has spent the past few years living and working in COVID’s America – people are tired, stressed, and restless – and it’s not enough to just add a few more “Casual Dress Fridays” to the calendar and call it a day.

CreditUnions.com shared an article including some of the ways different US branches have been spicing up their engagement strategies and events.

Here are a few of our favorites mentioned in the article:

  • Employee awards and recognition boards (both branch-specific and credit union-wide): you can create polls or solicit feedback about employee efforts. Did someone jump in to assist another staff member when things were hectic? Is there a go-to person who is always willing to help plan events or engage more with your members? Employees love to be recognized, but it has to be genuine.
  • Sponsor yoga or other fitness sessions or stress-relief classes
  • Using technology to reward your employees – using a corporate DoorDash account to deliver free lunches to remote teams, paying for Instacart groceries. There was even a credit union that bought the ingredients for a meal that the staff then cooked together via Zoom.

Another great way to mix things up is to use your community outreach to help your employees’ favorite causes. Charitable efforts that go to national organizations are great, but what fundraisers and philanthropic groups are based in the towns your branches do business in? Every month, you could let your employees choose a cause that is dear to them, and then extend some outreach efforts or pledge donations to these smaller, but more meaningful, charities.

Foster Credit Union Staff Engagement with the “Build, Buzz, Bake” Method

Another recent article, this one from CU Management, shared a unique perspective on company culture and how to create change that sticks in your credit union work environment.

Employee engagement and your credit union’s culture are two sides of the same coin. The “build, buzz, bake” framework is perfect for credit unions because your staff is already more invested in your business than other employees in the financial and banking industries. Many employees are stakeholders, and your credit union’s success is also their personal and professional success.

According to the article, the build phase is all about the prep work. To engage your employees, you have to give them a vision or inspiration that gets them excited. This inspiring idea can be specific or broad, but it must be unifying. For example, maybe sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives are gaining popularity, and this can be the theme that drives your engagement efforts. Or it can be something small or temporary, like creating a Community Discovery summer program where you partner with local businesses to boost engagement for members, staff, and the community.

Next is the buzz phase. A quick email outlining the new company culture or engagement project isn’t enough. You have to generate some excitement and momentum.

Set aside time to converse with your staff about the new initiative. What inspires them to want to participate? What stops them from wanting to participate? This can help you tailor events and meetings that increase credit union staff engagement.

And the final phase is to bake. Credit unions are primed for creating and sustaining great and powerful company culture, you just have to allow your employees the space to explore and interact. Whatever your new or improved direction is, once you’ve gotten some buzz going, you need to continue feeding into that culture so the positive aspects of it grow and become second nature.

Streamline Complex Functions with Infuzion – IMSI’s Powerful New Tool

Another tip for staff engagement involves leveraging technology to keep menial tasks to a minimum. IMSI’s Infuzion tool allows you to streamline complex functions without developing scripts or building Java.

You can run rapid file search queries, batch file inputs, and script modifications, which can free up your staff members to work with members, develop new product lines or marketing campaigns, and do other strategic work that fosters growth for your credit union.

Contact us today to learn more about how Infuzion and Keystone solutions can help increase productivity and credit union staff engagement.


3 Credit Union Website Design and Development Tips

 

As much as your credit union website design should be visually appealing, it should do more than just look good. Your web development should be focused on creating a functional, engaging, and intuitive layout that helps your members and prospects find exactly what they need.

The experience you want your members to have in your credit union should be featured in your website design. Hubspot recently shared some eye-opening statistics about modern web design.

For example, almost 90% of visitors leave a website due to slow loading, 73% due to non-responsive websites, and just over 60% leave due to bad navigation. Since many credit unions are historically slow to update their digital assets, this is a big problem. We are increasingly seeing business, finances, personal shopping, medical care, and so much more being done online. Your credit union website design needs to reflect that you understand the importance of digital banking and accessibility, while also addressing concerns about slow loading times and mobile device browsing.

Here’s another impactful statistic from Hubspot: 60% of consumers rate usability as an important design characteristic for their online experience.

Your credit union may have previously been built on the connections in your community, but if you want to continue growing, it’s time to review and update your web development strategies. Here are some of the most recommended tips we could find for improving credit union website design.

Define Your Purpose

Credit union website design is a tricky thing. To continue appealing to younger demographics and gain loyal members from these groups, your website’s purpose must be well-defined.

That doesn’t mean your website should only have one function, but it does mean that you’ll have to look at where you are and where you want to be, then decide the best way to get there.

For example, your credit union website’s purpose can be to create a satisfying and personalized experience for all members. This positions your web development projects in a way that can help guide your developers to create an easily navigable experience that can inform your members and even help them carry out financial tasks – tasks which can include account balance checking, online web loan applications, and using online educational content to help guide their financial decisions.

Listen to Your Users

Member feedback is a great way to find out exactly what your members need that you aren’t already providing. All the best tips and practices on the Internet won’t help you connect with your members in a meaningful way through your website if you aren’t giving them the tools and paths they are looking for.

For example, chatbots and mobile device usage continue to be popular website tools that help credit union professionals connect with members. And when you have a website design that supports their needs, you will often find that your members are more than happy to do the “grunt work” themselves, like applying for loans, enrolling in Skip a Pay programs, opening bank accounts, and more.

Not only does the website then start doing some of the data entry heavy lifting, but it also frees up your credit union associates to explore other ways to engage and assist members with more complex problems or ideas.

And since most Internet browsing comes from mobile devices, your web development strategy has to include those functions as you create or upgrade your credit union website design.

Your members know what they want and are often most vocal about how your credit union is keeping them from being able to have their preferred experience. It’s a great opportunity to not only gain insight into how you can better serve your members, it can also give you more chances to increase member engagement by offering polls, comment sections, and more ways to collect feedback on your website design and future plans.

Keep Your Design Ideas Simple

Your credit union web design should be unique and eye-catching, but you can’t trade function for flash. Lots of banners, long content, and colorful visuals can be great tools to use, but they can also overwhelm your visitors.

Your web development should be done with a “pare down” mentality – you can’t possibly describe every service you offer, so you should just focus on highlighting your high-level items and creating a navigation system that allows your site visitors to home in on what they’re looking for.

A few well-placed and stunning visuals are perfect, but pages of long paragraphs and high-resolution images aren’t necessary, and they only increase your load times.

You can communicate effectively through simple icons (outlines of credit cards or checks, pens, and more) and short, powerful phrases to help lead your members to the website features and information they’re looking for.

Custom Web Development Is Easy with IMSI

IMSI is uniquely equipped to maximize our expertise in the web development world as well as our knowledge of the specific digital needs credit unions benefit from the most.

With our Custom Web Development services, we work with you to address your credit union’s needs with tailored web design and UX strategies. We can even work with you to find inexpensive solutions that enhance your current website’s benefits and fixes your current problem areas.

The goal is to create the best experience for your members, and we’ve got the tools and expertise to do it quickly and cost-effectively.


Credit Unions & the Great Resignation

 

The Great Resignation has not been easy for credit unions. And much like the rest of the country, your credit union must be looking for some explanations and solutions to the problems caused by the Great Resignation.

Your credit union staff is quite often part of the “face” of your CU’s brand. And as the Great Resignation and its effects linger, it can reflect poorly on that brand if you are unable to keep your branches staffed well. As inflation and cost of living expenses rise, it is less likely that your credit union is a “bad employer” and more likely that you aren’t marketing your positions in an optimal way, among other things.

Let’s talk about what the Great Resignation is and how to create targeted solutions to keep credit union staff issues to a minimum.

The Great Resignation: What It Is and What It Taught Us

In 2021, nearly 50 million people left their jobs voluntarily. This number is 12 million higher than the previous year.

What caused this mass exodus? Here are some of the top reasons cited by those who quit:

  • Burnout (40%)
  • Organizational changes (34%)
  • Lack of flexibility (20%)
  • Instances of discrimination (20%)
  • Contributions and ideas not being valued (20%)
  • Insufficient benefits (19%)

The stress from the pandemic – including many companies calling their staff back from remote work to in-office, loss of employees due to COVID, increased responsibilities, etc. – are all contributors to the burnout that many people are feeling in their workplace.

And credit unions are not exempt from these things. Like many businesses, most CUs can’t support 100% of their workforce going full-time remote, and it’s up to individual institutions to decide how to handle cost of living hikes and inflation issues.

However, when you look at the list of reasons why people are leaving in droves, a lot of it comes down to employees not feeling supported by the businesses they work for and support.

And while this information may seem negative, it’s also worth noting that the financial services sector actually experienced the Great Resignation less significantly than other industries. However, the number of resignations is still outweighing the number of new hires, even now, though that trend seems to be slowing the further we get into 2022.

Hiring & Recruiting: Jumpstart Your CU’s Search

If you are looking to increase your credit union staff numbers, or you have vacant positions to fill, we’ve got some tips.

Right now, posting your open positions on your website and your favorite job boards isn’t enough to attract the candidates you’ll want. Your hiring approach has to be more active.

You can use those same job boards to seek out specific people or to search for individuals who may be gainfully employed but looking for other opportunities. For example, LinkedIn lets people note on their profile if they are open to other job opportunities, even if they aren’t actively looking to change jobs.

You also need to expand your search. Though each position may have preferred skills, it’s important to seek out and evaluate potential candidates who don’t fit all the criteria on your list.

When you think about the ideal person you’d like to fill a specific position, what sort of attributes are most important? Do they need to be personable? Should they have high problem-solving capabilities or be great at written communication? Many of these attributes are tantamount to, say, their experience working in the financial sector, but they are often overlooked until after the interview process has already begun.

Offering sign-on bonuses or other perks including higher wages that are consistent with or better than your area competitors is helpful, too. But these things are only so important to prospects, especially for businesses with staffing issues based on workload, company culture, or other more systemic problems.

Evaluate Your Expenses

Much of the effect of the Great Resignation for credit union staff was seen in the resignation of frontline workers including tellers and other employees who work directly with your members. And while this can be frustrating, it also offers a great opportunity for your credit union to see what improvements can be made to ease the burden on front-facing roles by implementing new processes or investing in new technology.

The Great Resignation is also a great opportunity for your branches to evaluate other expenses. There are likely ways to reduce costs without reducing your staff. For example, IMSI has a host of credit union solutions that take some of the more repetitive or preliminary member-facing tasks and creates online solutions that you can build directly into your CU’s website or app offerings.

Web Solutions for Busy CU Leaders

When you are having staffing issues, the last thing you want to do is make things harder for yourself or your current credit union staff. That’s why IMSI concentrates on bringing you customized, high-quality solutions for your online forms.

Our online self-service forms can collect information for you and even enable member-led self-service request fulfillment. IMSI can build dozens of forms that can ease the burden on your staff and place some of the power back into your member’s hands.

Are you interested in learning more about IMSI’s self-service forms? Reach out to us today and request a consultation.


Which Credit Union Concerns Deserve Your Attention in 2022?

 

Like many industries right now, it seems like the top credit union concerns are changing rapidly. But many of them boil down to accessibility, security, and improving member experience.

As we move through 2022 trending topics, it’s good to compare these new trends with the mission and vision of your organization, as well as the member demographics that your specific credit union(s) will be serving.

We are all being affected by change fatigue lately, so choosing the best credit union concerns to address in the last months of 2022 means taking a good look at the industry as a whole but remembering that you still have a job to do, and your credit union has a niche to fill in your communities.

By focusing on these areas and staying informed with insights from prominent CU news sources and the IMSI blog, you can quickly figure out which credit union concerns and 2022 trending topics deserve your attention.

Cashless & Contactless Are Kings

By 2030, Gen Z’s economic power is expected to increase fivefold, and when combined with millennials, they’ll make up 72% of the workforce just before that.

Catering to your younger members (and growing that base) is essential to the success of any business that hopes to continue serving clients in the next several decades.

Top-tier payment experience is a must-have for credit unions and businesses as a whole. Cashless and contactless payments are no longer considered a fresh, new luxury – they are a requirement for your member’s experience. In fact, more than half of global millennials are likely to avoid patronizing and partnering with businesses (and credit unions) that don’t offer cashless and contactless payments

The popularity of ACH payments and digital wallets will mark a heavy difference in the way the world’s economy operates in the coming years. Because of this, creating contactless payment options should be at the top of your list of credit union concerns for 2022.

Protect Data Privacy through Cybersecurity

Growing concerns for cybersecurity threats and best practices continue to be among the top 2022 trending topics, regardless of which industry you work in.

Recently, CUNA reported a strong show of support from credit unions on the subject of data privacy and cybersecurity.

Your credit union members are not satisfied with empty comments and promises that their data is safe if you can’t share what plans and protocols you have put in place recently to protect their data and financial privacy.

The credit union concerns that stem from extra data protection and cybersecurity are online and remote user experience. Your members want secure financial transactions and bank accounts through your credit union, but they also don’t want to struggle to access them.

As we navigate that fine line, it’s important to remember that user error is the most common cause of most global security breaches.

Credit vs. Debit Card Use

Credit unions are financial institutions that are built on the premise that banking should be done through a business that doesn’t just care about the financial health of its members, but also strives to promote financial education and community outreach.

Because of these roots, more and more banking experts are being called upon to help their members figure out whether a debit card or credit card is right for them. Because fraud and identity theft are on the rise, it’s wise to let members know that with a credit card, the card issuer will have to fight to get the money back, and with a debit card, the member is the one who will have to fight.

Your credit union is uniquely positioned to be able to solicit feedback from your members on what their payment preferences are, and what types of rewards or features they want their credit and debit cards to have.

For example, many Gen Z and millennial members across the US are more likely to use debit cards, having grown up in times of prolonged financial and economic crisis. These generations are also more concerned about debt mitigation – this should be an important focus area for addressing credit union concerns this year.

There has also been an uptick in credit card product creation – this includes how the cards work, what rewards or benefits certain cards can offer, and more. Catering to your members of all ages through credit card features is another 2022 trending topic that could gain you some members and increase current member satisfaction as well.

IMSI: Comprehensive Solutions for Credit Union Concerns

IMSI was built by credit union industry experts. We offer a host of Keystone solutions as well as credit union and customizable and professional services to ensure your credit union has the greatest chances of digital success.

You know your members best, and IMSI is here to help you continue to serve them with optimized processes and online solutions.

Are you interested in exploring IMSI’s offerings? Reach out to us today and request a consultation.


Sustainable Banking Practices for Your Credit Union

 

Sustainable banking is a concept that prioritizes banking and investment best practices that, while pursuing profits and business stability, also prioritizes social responsibility and environmental sustainability. It shifts the discussion of “the bottom line” to include initiatives that better our communities from social and environmental perspectives.

We recently talked about financial inclusion and equity. Sustainable banking is a broader plan for making your credit union and its operations work better and smarter, for your current and future members. Transparency and trust go hand in hand and positioning your credit union as a trustworthy financial resource is one of the best ways to foster growth in your business. Here are some great sustainable banking practices for your credit union.

Strive for a Certification

Like any industry, there are several top certifications that credit unions and banks can strive for to promote your sustainable banking initiatives and lend legitimacy to your efforts.

The top ethical banking certifications that credit unions are eligible for include:

  • Global Alliance for Banking on Values – This certification group includes fewer than 20 banks and credit unions, but the GABV “is a network of independent banks using finance to deliver sustainable economic, social and environmental development.”
  • Fossil Free Certified – This certification is all in the name. Banks and credit unions that hope to include this sustainable banking certification in their brand must not use their funds to finance fossil fuel companies now or in the future. This certification is claimed by only ten financial institutions currently. It was started in early 2022, and the initiatives within it will likely continue to grow quickly with the number of younger customers that choose to support only green businesses.
  • Community Development Credit Union – Spearheaded by Inclusiv, a community development credit union is one that is focused on serving low- and moderate-income people and communities. Targeting the underserved is another avenue by which you can create sustainable banking opportunities at your credit union.

These and other certifications are amazing ways you can show your members and communities that your credit union is committed to using your brand to spark positive change and to support globally prevalent causes.

Green Lending Initiatives

There is a strong correlation between sustainable practices and financial growth, both from personal and business standpoints. Your credit union not only stands to create positive change and contribute to a greener future, but it also brings more money into your institutions.

Green lending for individual and business endeavors is a growing subset of the financial industry. Green energy can help your individual members lower their cost of living and energy bills, and it can also help invite, nurture, and differentiate businesses in your community.

By creating green lending options and other green financial offerings, you can help drive change (and profit) towards more climate-friendly solutions. Green lending initiatives can include everything from bonds and large industrial investment ventures to small personal loans aimed at updating the energy efficiency of the appliances and electrical systems in residential homes.

Sustainability-Minded Financial Education & Events

Your credit union members come to you because of your connections to their community and your staff’s sound financial backgrounds and advice. When it comes to sustainable banking, you have a prime opportunity to help educate your members about green initiatives and involve them in sustainable events.

For example, you can create financial education courses (and hold them in your branches or online) that center around environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG). By showing members how and where to invest and focusing on creating greener opportunities, you can help orient them towards a new, more sustainable path that includes people from all backgrounds and financial situations.

You can also host fun events that are aimed at fostering these ideals in your community. You can partner with local nonprofits and charitable organizations to bring awareness to the biggest sustainability challenges for your underserved community members. Hold food drives, sponsor a vegetarian or vegan chili cookoff, and make sure you involve the locals!

These things, as well as creating visual displays in your branches and on your credit union website, speak to the need for sustainability. These can include things like a waste or energy consumption calculator for households, or an infographic that dispels myths about sustainable energy sources like wind and solar power. You can even have guest speakers come in and talk about what local businesses and organizations are doing to increase financial inclusion or cut down on pollution.

By hosting sustainability-minded financial education opportunities and green events, your credit union can establish itself as a force for change, which not only helps the community and environment as a whole, but also sets your business apart and makes it more attractive to a younger clientele.

Technology as a Sustainable Banking Tool

Online self service forms and other tools and processes that cut out the need for certain resources like unnecessary paper consumption are great assets in the shift toward sustainable banking practices. The more things we can do digitally, the smaller our emissions and carbon footprint can be as a credit union and as an industry.

IMSI has a host of technology-forward tools that can assist your credit union in its quest to not only serve your current members, but your future members for generations to come.

Are you interested in exploring IMSI’s offerings? Reach out to us today and request a consultation.


2022 Pivots Your CU Should Make

 

Credit unions are resilient and creative, and 2022 is the perfect year to flex those strengths to create growth for your business. There are lots of 2022 pivots your credit union should make this year.

Some of these pivots are likely already in the works in your branches and on your websites, while others may have passed just under your radar for the year. Either way, these items should make their way to the top of your priority list in the coming months.

Shifting Payments Preferences

Convenience and automation continue to help drive the demand for accessible payments. These payments preferences have shifted drastically in light of the pandemic, but they also offer a lot of benefits to the users, namely the ability to access and use your money anywhere, anytime.

The challenge here is security. As non-traditional payment methods are offered by more banks and credit unions, these payments preferences must ensure that your members’ private information is not being stolen or corrupted.

The supply chain shortages of credit and debit cards have also affected payments preferences in recent months. The shortage of the digital chips for these cards and countless other technologies has been going on since late 2020, which likely means your members’ new payments preferences will be sticking around.

As part of your credit union’s 2022 pivots, you should consider doing a comprehensive audit of your payment services to see what your members are using the most (and the least).

Loan Growth Initiatives

Many financial institutions are seeing an upward trend in household deposits to their branches, and fewer loans are being applied for and created. To bolster your loan growth this year, another worthwhile 2022 pivot is digital marketing touting your lending services.

For example, 2022 has seen incredible growth in the real estate market, with some areas having houses for sale for just a few days before they find a suitable and willing buyer. To capitalize on this fast-paced market, you need a quick way to increase your credit union loan growth.

IMS Integration offers online loan applications that are designed to incorporate your CU and its brand elements. You can offer these services electronically and collect all the information you need to start the loan process with your most tech-savvy members.

The Digital vs. Branch Debate

The paradox that was created by the pandemic is that we needed to implement and increase technology-based solutions quickly, but that focus has also created a huge desire for human interaction.

Credit union branch visits will likely never reach pre-pandemic levels in the near future, if at all. However, after two years of heavily automated and digital transactions, your members are also craving sincere, thorough interactions with your staff.

With that in mind, it’s important to tailor your branch spaces to maximize these person-to-person interactions and create a space to foster communication and financial advice. Even if you are offering web loan applications and self-service forms, many of your members will still prefer to talk to a live person, either at your branch or over the phone. Your credit union 2022 pivots in this area should aim to shift the use of your physical space to better serve the members who want in-depth financial education and counsel.

Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency investments have been growing steadily for several years. They’ve also recently seen a huge spike in investment interest. And many people would prefer to control these investments via their preferred financial institution rather than third party and other digital banking vendors.

2022 pivots in the cryptocurrency game have even seen big businesses like Subway, Twitch, AT&T, Starbucks, Home Depot, and more accepting bitcoin for their products and services in-store and online.

Just as you’d want your members to choose their CU credit or debit card to pay for those transactions, your credit union should be moving to capitalize on the rise in crypto’s popularity.

Addressing Staffing Issues

Employee turnover issues are affecting the financial industry just as it has been affecting other industries like hospitality, food service, and healthcare.

For credit unions, this can not only create staffing issues due to your business’s inability to provide remote work options at the volume that other industries can, but it can also affect your regulatory compliance.

It’s important to assess the potential risks of losing specific members of your teams, maintaining resources to fulfill compliance requirements, and more.

The Best of Your 2022 Pivots: Elegant Member-Facing Digital Solutions

Serving your members is the mission and goal of every credit union. And that means creating amazing customer service opportunities, both in your branches and online.

Your credit union has likely spent years, even decades, perfecting your in-person services, and IMSI has done the same thing when it comes to providing top-tier online support and services to credit union members.

IMS Integration has everything from elegant member-facing solutions like Online Courtesy Pay, Web Loan Applications, Online Self Service forms, and account opening to sophisticated professional services that include custom web development as well as batch and UI scripting to ensure your website runs smoothly and offers your members the best in online credit union and banking services.


Trending Credit Union Topics for April 2022

 

Recently, the Credit Union National Association held its annual governmental affairs conference. They covered a wide range of topics from regulatory changes to future initiatives and more. After the conference, American Banker compiled a list of 6 topics from that conference that credit unions are talking about. Those topics include:

  • War in Ukraine
  • Economy and fee income
  • Struggles of starting a new credit union
  • Inclusion initiatives
  • LGBTQ+ affiliations and communities
  • Credit unions buying banks

Let’s discuss some of these trending credit union topics and what they mean for the future of your credit union.

War in Ukraine

Many industries are wondering how far the effects of the war between Ukraine and Russia will spread. We have already seen a hike in gas prices, and the supply shortages caused by the pandemic will also compound any issues furthered by the ongoing conflict.

Many countries are cutting ties with Russia, making it difficult for them to retrieve any assets or benefits of commerce from these areas. And since Russia has already been accused of interfering in American politics, many businesses are concerned that we are about to get hit with an increasing number of cyberattacks originating from the Russians.

As far as credit union-specific dealings, the Ukrainian National Credit Union Association has partnered with its members to help send aid to those affected by the war. According to their website, “the Ukrainian American credit union movement in the United States exceeds 100,000 family memberships…our asset base has surpassed $4 billion.”

Of the trending credit union topics we are talking about in this article, this one is likely the most volatile, as the war could potentially have global repercussions regarding economic stability, and the rise of military involvement from various countries.

A recent article from the Credit Union Times talks about the issues the Ukrainians face as their towns are invaded and destroyed. There is looting and the sparse reports from the region include insights into a near-total collapse of all cashless payment options in the country. Relief efforts in the country are being debated currently to help even the playing field and allow for credit union depositors to be treated the same way bank depositors are treated.

In early March, the World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) and the World Foundation for Credit Unions have launched campaigns to aid Ukraine, including the creation of the Ukrainian Credit Union Displacement Fund, and many other credit union organizations have created funds that collect and disburse donations from all over the world to aid in relief efforts.

Credit unions across the world are being encouraged to help by providing monetary donations and using their platforms to help show Americans where and how they can donate through their CU memberships.

Economy, Financial Inclusion, & Fee Income

The economy is another trending credit union topic right now, and that has been the case since the pandemic began. With the huge global events that have taken place in the last few years, it’s hard not to be wary of market shifts and other economic indicators.

Many credit unions have been focused on creating opportunities to aid in the recovery from the pandemic, especially for those who live in underserved areas.

And one tactic that many credit unions have embraced is the reduction or elimination of overdraft and other complicated fee systems. These fees can actually harm credit union efforts geared toward increasing financial inclusion.

We’ve previously shared our insights that explain why the era of overdraft fees is ending. However, the discussions around these topics and the push for more financially inclusive initiatives mean that reducing or eliminating your overdraft fees is the most likely path forward. And that means your credit union will have to analyze their specific branch data to adjust their programs to account for this loss of an income stream.

The Struggles of Opening New Credit Unions

Though there are many difficult things to navigate this year, there are some trending credit union topics that center around how we can make it easier for new credit unions to open their doors.

For example, Village Financial Credit Union is a Black-led credit union that was set to open in 2019, but after several setbacks – including a global pandemic – the leaders of this enterprise are hopeful they will be able to open their doors in North Minneapolis by early 2023.

As we continue to strive for financial inclusion, it will become more important to create and look for opportunities to increase the presence of reputable credit unions in areas that are historically underserved.

Use Optimized Tools to Navigate Trends in the Credit Union Sector

Navigating trending credit union topics have long-lasting implications for your CU. And that’s why you need cutting-edge solutions that have been tailored to credit union needs.

Luckily, IMS Integration can help augment those offerings with elegant, member-facing solutions that include: Make a Statement, Online Courtesy Pay+, Online Self-Service Forms, and Trial Balance+.