“Credit Unions are built for this. They are the fabric of our community. They are the bridge between financial services and human beings.” (Thank you Bruce and Bill). We are certainly going through some trying times. What makes this pandemic more frightening is the uncertainty. Yet, we are lucky to have essential status as a financial institution. This translates to having the ability to serve people. Isn’t it all about food, shelter, wellness?
I want to start by thanking my close friend Stephen Lark at Communication FCU in Oklahoma City for providing me with a majority of the content for this article. Stephen and I have been listening, observing, and thinking about what is important today. Based on our conversations and meetings with a few of our peers in the industry, we decided to turn this article into a checklist of useful items that can be leveraged by all.
We started with a simple question, “What can you do to drive business that helps members?”
- Rates are low – Refis for auto and potentially real estate. Promote that you can complete the process online.
- If you rescore your loan portfolio and/or have access to credit bureau data, you likely have a good source of members who have loans elsewhere.
- Generate a call list for branches. They likely have extra bandwidth and would love to generate business that helps their incentives at this time.
- Look at generating business from indirect members.
- Offer 30/60/90 days with no payments.
- Loans to help members in a difficult situation.
- Don’t treat a good, long-term member like you don’t know them.
- Don’t be afraid to counter back on unsecured loan requests with a lower amount rather than just saying no. Even $500 can be a big help to somebody at this time.
- Members who are coming up on their first CD renewal within the next 2 weeks. Call to let them know. Ask how they are doing to build good will. Ask what their plans are and how we can help. Most CD depositors are older, so they have hesitations about getting out. Don’t forget to ask if they have money elsewhere. Tell them you can take care of the new CD online. If they want to move a substantial deposit to the credit union, you might even offer to reimburse a wire fee if it’s right for your organization.
- Rates are low, look at opportunities to generate volume.
- Communicate with members and employees. Everyone has hesitations at this time. Be positive in your messages.
- Put messages of hope on social media and external signage if you have it.
- Have employees with extra bandwidth send cards to members/call members. Don’t ask for new business, just thank them for their business and let them know the CU is here for them. Could be a good strategy for creating long-term members. They will tell their friends and children.
- What can you do in your community to support local business? Purchase local business gift cards and give them away to members for takeout to use once this subsides.
- Look at what other business are doing and adapt to your credit union rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. Speed is critical.
- Task someone in your organization with coming up with fun ideas to inspire people. Memes, how they helped members. Recognize who did the most payment skips/hardship loans, etc. Get stories from employees about how they helped members or each other and share those in the organization. Post dad jokes on the CU Intranet.
- Communicate with examiners if you have questions or want to make changes that you think they will question.
- Encourage regular video chats between your different teams who are working remotely.
- Don’t overwhelm your staff with too many things at once. Many changes are happening right now
- Be open to new ideas. Adapt and preserver.
We have been through two major crises within the last 20 years. 9/11/2001 and 2008. Research what was done then and plan to do more today. Use the press as an advocate – put out useful information; your local media is looking for effective PSA’s. Topics might be cautions on fraud, talking about convenience services (bill payment), and even feel good stories. The consumer today is very concerned about their future.
Be a voice in the silence, nurture your relationship, and remind them that you exist to serve them. My sincere gratitude to Kristy, Pam, Kim, Carla, Traci, Scott, Tom, George, Brandon, Nav, and Jason (these CU leaders have been deliberately anonymous) for their continued guidance.
I am sure you have other ideas of things you are doing. Would you be so kind to add them in the comments section so they can be enjoyed by all. My sincere thanks to you in advance.
When I started this article, I talked about us having the ability to serve people. I want to add to it to say that I am grateful that so many of us in financial services having the willingness, the desire, the resolve – all of this to serve people – we are that bridge between financial services and human beings. I thank you all, and want you to realize that this time too will pass and we will all rise together.