We like to think we focus on the human side of things when it comes to lending. We know it’s personal. And we know it’s what’s keeping a whole lot of people and their families afloat right now. So, it makes sense to ask: Is your credit union leveraging all the tools at its disposal?
To answer that question, I sat down with Jared Bryner, Senior Product Manager & Sales Consultant at CRMNEXT. We discussed the 18 years he spent working for credit unions – the stories he lived, the members he still loves, and the lessons he learned… lessons that can offer some fantastic guidance into CU lending strategies today.
So, settle on down. It’s story time.
Jared worked with a member—let’s call her Lucy—whose family got into some trouble. It’s a small world where news spreads quickly, and Lucy wanted to accomplish 3 things: protect her family’s reputation, pay off the $10,000 her family owed the CU, and take out a loan herself.
The problem: Lucy didn’t have a job.
Impossible situation, right? Not necessarily. After listening to her story, Jared took the time to get creative, re-evaluate, and advise. When Lucy got a part-time job as a substitute teacher, he worked with their VP of collections and VP of lending to rewrite the initial loan. He took her now ex-husband off of it, changed it to a $10,000 personal loan, and made the term of it longer than normal in order to keep payments smaller.
The result: this woman paid back every cent of what was owed, eventually brought her new husband and children in as members, went on to do many more loans with Jared, and ultimately became a life-long member of the credit union.
Offering second chances
Another member—we’ll call him Jim—stopped making payments and eventually became a charge-off. He later returned, requesting a car loan for his growing family. His monthly income checks were small, and it was going to be hard to pay the money back. But Jared was willing to work with him.
Slowly, Jim paid back all of what was initially owed. Jared secured him the loan for the new car, and they went on to work together for years. He and his family’s pictures were even featured on the credit union’s website – making Jim a literal “poster child” for a member in good standing.
What it ultimately came down to: being willing to re-establish a relationship. Jared lights up as he recalls, “He went from never being able to do business with the CU to becoming a life-long member. It really changed his life because of the way the credit union accommodated him and was willing to work with him … We’re not trying to give people money, but we ARE trying to help them meet their needs. And we did.”
Being an advocate in a predatory world
An elderly woman—we’ll go with Valerie for this one—took out a loan for a kitchen renovation.
Trusting the contractor, she paid him up front and in full, and … you guessed it … the guy never showed up. It’s an all-too-common story and, of course, the CU had no obligation to be a part of it beyond that. But they chose to step in for the good of the member. They ended up doing another loan and helped her to get her kitchen fixed.
“In the credit union space,” Jared said, “we have a fiduciary responsibility to really do what’s in the best interest of the member.” And they did – leaving a lasting impression on both Valerie and Jared. Big deal? We think so.
Proactively educating people
Another common story? A young member—perhaps named Isabella—came in asking to take out a personal loan for a car repair. The personal loan rate was 9-12%. Jared pulled up her account, asked if it was for the car she already had a loan on, saw that it was paid off, and offered her the following: If you bring us back the title, we can do this at 3% rather than making you pay a personal loan of 9-12%.
Isabella had no idea that was even an option. And that’s generally the case.
Obviously, Jared could’ve done what she asked and made a lot more money for the CU. But it comes back to what’s best for the member.
“I’d remind myself – I’m not on the other side of the desk. I’m not the one that has to make that monthly payment. Truly, I cared to try to give everybody the best deal; to educate people,” says Jared. “I tried to put myself in their shoes.”
Ok, one more … A retired member with ridiculously fantastic credit—I’m thinking Bob—had worked with Jared for years. He reached out on a Friday to let Jared know he wanted to buy a car over the weekend. Jared pre-approved the loan then waited to hear back. When he hadn’t heard from Bob by Tuesday, he followed up.
Turns out Bob had been talked into going through the FI connected to the dealership – with a rate of 4.5% … when Jared could’ve offered him 1.99%. The dealership had also told Bob that he couldn’t pay it off for the first 6 months, or there’d be a penalty (not true). Jared helped him get things sorted and into a loan that offered him the best rate.
The takeaway: had Jared not followed up, he’d have lost that loan and potentially future business from a very valued member.
Choosing the right technology
Now, as heart-warming as all of these stories are, credit unions have a business to run. And, in order to effectively emulate the mantra of ‘people helping people’, it’s essential to find tools that offer the best support.
So, what DO you need to capture new members, make them life-long members, and create stories that take your CU to the promised land?
The right CRM.
Let’s look at the issue of follow up, as in the case with Bob. In his time at the CU, Jared estimates that—with 40% of the preapprovals he did—he never saw or talked to that member again. “My follow up was my file drawer that was stuck to my desk” he admits.
Part of what drew Jared to his current role and “really kind of blew [his] mind” was the visibility a CRM provides credit unions cross-functionally. “We can actually see where the loan is in process. We can run reports that show – these loans need to be followed up with.” By Monday. At 3:00pm.
And that kind of transparency from a system that’s integrated with your core and communicates cross-functionally helps alleviate a whole host of obstacles that get in the way of happy lending endings.
When Jared left the CU, there were 28,000 members and 65 employees, a member to employee ratio that comes with issues. But, as Jared says, “If we’d had the right CRM, it would have totally alleviated the problem … You should be able to make your team more efficient. We’re not trying to have you hire more and more people to accommodate your growth. Our platform will help you do that.”
When it comes to lending, the right tools matter. Your CRM should simplify work, drive real growth, and deliver better experience for members and employees alike – ultimately letting your CU focus on what matters most: the people you serve.
Want to learn more? Check out this short demo video on how CRMNEXT can transform your lending process.