LEVERAGE is excited to announce a new partnership with Neural Payments, a new product from LEVERAGE Payment Solutions, that makes sending money anywhere, at any time, a seamless experience.
With Neural Payments, credit union members can send funds to users through their credit union’s mobile app to PayPal, Venmo, and Visa/MasterCard. The receiver of the funds also can choose where the funds are sent, with fund transfers occurring in real-time, giving your members access to their funds right there and now.
“Through this new partnership with Neural Payments, credit union members will have additional ways to manage their money,” stated Steve Willis, President of LEVERAGE. “Neural Payments not only reduces the risk associated with sending money through third-party applications, but it keeps your accounts safe by giving you the power to choose where your money goes and how quickly you can access your funds.”
Credit unions can implement Neural Payments in less than 90 days, and there are no additional settlement processes for employees to learn. No third-party app is required and no card registration to enroll in the program, reducing the potential risk for fraud and support calls relating to disputes.
“We are constantly searching for new ways to enhance our credit unions and we are confident that this partnership with Neural Payments will elevate your member’s experience,” Willis concluded.
To learn more about how LEVERAGE and Neural Payments can assist your credit union, please email email@example.com.
“Danger, Will Robinson!” “Danger, Will Robinson!” No, not that type of robot! Although it is easy to fantasize about them taking on the forms, personalities, and powers of the humans who create them. Ask yourself though, “How have robots materialized our everyday lives?”
The answer is, “more than you probably realize.” One of the most relevant robotic technologies is Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA is software that is programmed to perform repetitive tasks, take specific jobs – the types that trip us up and consume way too much time – and perform them flawlessly and quickly. As a credit union, your ears might be starting to perk up. Quite frankly, they should! RPA can enhance productivity in very specific ways for credit unions.
With some use cases, you will see just how relevant and powerful robotic process automation can be for your credit union.
Indirect Loan Processes
Indirect loans are a great way for credit unions to build their loan portfolios, but they present many challenges. Imagine your hardworking employee manually downloading files for each corresponding indirect loan number stored on an Excel spreadsheet. The employee then converts each file to a PDF. In all, your employee spends four minutes per loan through this process. That may not sound like a lot, but if your credit union is like most, the vast majority of your auto loan portfolio is on the indirect side of the business – and those minutes add up.
In contrast, robotic process automation simplifies the task by automating this document conversion process. With a specific set of instructions, a “bot” fetches the loan numbers from the Excel file, downloads corresponding files, and stores them in a folder. The bot then uses Adobe to convert all the files in that folder to PDF automatically, doing the work in about half the time and allowing your employee to use those valuable four minutes for something much more important, like serving your members.
JD Power Valuation Services Process
In another case, your most loyal employee – the one who is great at coming up with creative strategies for growth – spends hours trudging through additional manual procedures related to finding trade-in values for vehicle loan accounts. This time, the employee manually matches the criteria in the product selection of an Excel spreadsheet, selects the product, and searches for the same on the JD Power Valuation Services site to get the rough trade-in value for each product. The employee must input this updated value into the Loan Origination System. For each record, the employee spends eight minutes.
Here, an RPA bot can step in to perform this entire process easier. In addition to automatically performing all the steps your employee does, it can be automatically configured to update the status of each account in the Excel spreadsheet. In the four minutes the bot requires to perform the task, your employee just had another brilliant idea.
Due Date Change Process
Over in your loan servicing department, your team member trudges through your core, imaging system, CRM, SharePoint, Excel, and Outlook to estimate a loan’s payoff date and change it in the core. Before anyone knows it, eight minutes of the workday is gone.
In our case, here comes the RPA bot to help. Using inbuilt logic, the bot can efficiently calculate the anticipated payoff date, retrieve the entry, validate the information, and log in to the core; it will update the payoff date and inactivate any active receivables. Once again, the time required is cut in half, with the bot requiring about three to four minutes for the job while the team member heads off to an all-staff meeting.
Bots in Action
In each of these scenarios, the bots performed tedious, error-prone tasks perfectly in about half the time, enabling your credit union to save dozens of hours across the organization each week and respond faster to member needs. More importantly, your employees gained back the valuable time they can now spend doing what they do best. How relevant is that?
Fortunately, RPA bots are more than relevant. They are here now, ready today to help credit unions like yours work more efficiently, accurately, and cost-effectively. They are flexible enough to work with any systems and cores, and powerful enough to make you wish you had imagined them in action at your credit union much sooner.
Credit Unions and CUNA Mutual Group Fast Forward Change through Inclusion Institute
A multicultural business strategy is essential if credit unions are to remain relevant in an increasingly diverse marketplace. Over the last five years, multicultural consumers accounted for 61 percent of credit union growth.
Beyond being the smart thing to do, serving multicultural, multigenerational members with intention is the right thing to do. No other initiative delivers on the movement’s founding principle promises—"people helping people”—quite like a multicultural business strategy.
Taking the first step toward developing such an involved strategy can be intimidating. We often tell credit unions to start by looking within. Every new or expanded strategy starts with people. Multicultural business strategy is the preeminent example of this transformation tenet. Unless leaders are first willing to look at themselves, no multicultural initiative can move with the full force of the credit union.
Some of the questions these leaders are confronting include:
Credit union executives may have an easier path to openness and change than leaders of other industries. However, confronting one’s biases, beliefs and attitudes is difficult for anyone, let alone people who are known for being fearless. Yet, as more credit unions explore the need for a multicultural business strategy, they are looking to change that dynamic.
These progressive change agents are doing this by engaging in the Inclusion Institute through CUNA Mutual Group.
Prioritizing Inclusion from the Leadership Team Out
Throughout the six-week Inclusion Institute experience, credit union leaders participate in two-hour sessions to better understand the concepts of race and the history of racism in the U.S. Attendees grow in self-awareness and appreciation for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a long-term commitment designed to bring about personal change as much as institutional change. Executing the principles of DEI internally is a best-practice prerequisite to multicultural business strategy externally.
Hank Baum, CEO of Shelton, Conn.-based Mutual Security Credit Union, was among the first to take his leadership team through the Inclusion Institute. A 20-year veteran of financial services, Baum recognized a need to act as racial and economic disparities became more apparent.
“There is so much work that can be done to expand services to our underserved and multicultural communities, but as we’ve learned through our work with CUNA Mutual Group, we can’t boil the ocean,” said Baum. “Our approach now has been to pick a lane and be the best we can there before broadening our understanding and adaptation to additional groups.”
Mutual Security had found success in programs to diversify its workforce, particularly as it has expanded services to local Hispanic communities. However, Baum says, it became evident during the national uprise around George Floyd’s murder that the equity and inclusion portion of their practices lacked attention. The leadership team needed stronger cohesion around the level of DEI prioritization and engaged CUNA Mutual Group’s DEI Services team to accelerate that cohesion.
“We were blown away starting from day one,” said Baum about the Inclusion Institute. “It was intense, uncomfortable, emotionally explosive, and yet healing at the same time. It far exceeded my expectations. My staff did not know what to expect, but each said they are happy they experienced it.”
Aligning Values to Ride the Wave of Change
Similarly, Maps Credit Union Chief People Officer Scott Sadler saw a need to help his Salem, Oregon-based leadership team align with the credit union’s evolving values. Still, at the beginning of its multicultural business strategy, the credit union recognized the criticality of ensuring its public position on DEI principles matched its internal practices and culture.
The credit union had a DEI committee, but it wasn’t far along in development. Sadler brought in the Inclusion Institute team to provide expert advice, as well as create space for leaders to become vulnerable enough to welcome meaningful change.
“We didn’t want check-the-box training,” said Sadler. “That’s not our style, and we knew our leaders wouldn’t tolerate it if we asked them to participate in a 101 workshop. We chose right with the Inclusion Institute. It rocked our world. We did some powerful work, and many times throughout the experience, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.”
Both Baum and Sadler encourage other credit union executives to engage with the Inclusion Institute. “It will fast forward your leadership and strategy like you won’t believe,” concluded Sadler. “There’s a significant change happening in the world. Riding the wave forward means owning mistakes and apologizing sometimes. The Inclusion Institute kickstarts the necessary conversations we all need to have.”
For more information about CUNA Mutual Group and DEI Services, contact a LEVERAGE Business Development Consultant at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-9EXPERT (855-939-7378).
By Marc Healy, Executive Director of Retail & Marketing, Element
What if you could meet customers and members where they are instead of relying on them to visit your primary branch location for each interaction? Over the past 20 years, financial institutions have been doing just that by incorporating in-store branches into retail spaces.
These in-store branches can play an important role in extending your brand and engaging with customers or members.
What is an in-store branch?
An in-store branch is an in-store extension of a larger primary financial institution. Also known as micro branches, pop-up banks, or small footprint banks, they are often found inside supermarkets and other large retail outlets. In-store branches provide a convenient way for financial institutions to boost customer interactions, expand their brand, and save money.
Though smaller and operated by fewer employees, in-store branches are equipped to provide most traditional banking services, including deposits, withdrawals, account setup, auto loans, mortgage programs, and more.
In-store branches have the potential to go beyond carrying out routine transactions to become new acquisition centers, where tellers act as universal agents who can handle and advocate for more in-depth financial services.
Since most shoppers visit grocery stores once or twice per week, in-store branch employees can get to know customers and members more intimately. Because these individuals have more opportunities to engage with the customer or member base than traditional branch tellers, they can become advocates for the brand and make suggestions based on their frequent interactions. In this way, in-store branches can also serve as an extra marketing tool for the financial institution.
In addition to providing more personalized customer service and enhanced brand marketing, in-store branches are also cost-effective. It costs significantly less to build an in-store branch than to purchase or build and staff a full-sized branch. This also makes the entry point much easier to expand into new markets that have not yet been firmly established.
For example, in an underserved area, it would be a smart strategy to open an in-store branch inside of a popular grocery store instead of investing large sums of money into a large, standalone branch. This allows financial institutions to test the waters before making a large commitment. On the whole, in-store branches offer a low-cost way to extend services while negating the expenses of a large building and staff.
What’s the difference between an in-store branch and a full-size location?
In-store branches meet customers and members where they are. While most primary branches operate between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., self-service functions of in-store branches are open as long as the host store is open. Customers and members can handle their financial transactions before or after their weekly grocery buying trip instead of having to make multiple stops and rush to the bank or credit union before it closes.
Unlike large branches, in-store branches offer more opportunities for customer or member interactions with agents. Universal agents can get to know their member base on a more personal level and determine which financial services could provide the greatest benefit in the process. On the other hand, some in-store branches are teller-less and utilize ATMs and ITMs to carry out most of the services of a traditional branch.
Additionally, in-store branches are more cost-effective than larger branches, as they do not require a standalone building and can be managed by fewer employees. On average, in-store branches cost only 50–60% of the operating expenses incurred by full-sized bank or credit union branches.
How customers’ changing preferences are driving the popularity of in-store branches
With the rise and popularity of one-stop shopping centers like Wal-Mart, Target, and even discount retailers, it is no surprise that bank and credit union customers and members enjoy this type of convenience as well. By utilizing in-store branches, financial institutions can expand their brands into the retail space, thereby providing in-store solutions for customers and members who otherwise may not make a special stop at the primary branch location.
Additionally, many customers and members prefer to do their banking outside of regular business hours. Banks and credit unions can better satisfy this customer desire through in-store branches that remain open after 5 p.m. and that offer ATM and ITM services at all hours.
Best practices for in-store branches
This comes down to three key factors:
Utilizing the latest banking technology is crucial to meeting customer demands and establishing your credibility as a modern financial institution. In-store branches should be well-equipped with virtually the same technology you would expect to find at a full-sized branch. This includes ATMs/ITMs and video banking options.
It’s also important for credit unions to select the right stores for their in-store branches. Ideal locations are those preferred by most people and include stores that see heavy foot traffic each day and are in easily accessible areas. In-store branches have been shown to perform well when situated in areas where customers and members need to withdraw cash, such as in supermarkets, shopping malls, and department stores.
Finally, hiring and training the right people can be a game-changer for the success of your small-footprint bank or credit union branch. The universal agents who work in in-store branches should be both conversational and consultative. They should believe in the concept of small-footprint credit unions and understand how to educate customers and members on the many benefits of using an in-store branch. These agents need to be willing and ready to engage with shoppers, getting to know them more with every interaction.
In-store branch locations offer financial institutions the opportunity to meet customers and members where they are, boost their customer or member base, expand their brand, and save money overall.
To learn more about in-store branch designs, visit https://myleverage.com/solutions/element.php or contact a LEVERAGE Business Development Consultant at email@example.com or 955-9EXPERT (855-939-7378).
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