3 Ways Branch Technology Upgrades Boost ROI

June 24, 2022
Wescom Resources Group Tellergy Signature Pad

Much of today’s technology talk is centered around digital banking and buzzwords like embedded finance, but your credit union branch network is a prime spot to up your tech game to serve members better and more efficiently.

First, the focus of data security has been around data breaches in the online ether, but in the branch it can be just as dangerous for members’ personally identifiable information and other private data to be breached. Has member interaction in your branches been neglected when we think about data security? As we share in a recent blog, members are coming back to our branches after a nearly two-year hiatus.

Often the first information requested by your team is a member number. The Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA) requires financial institutions to protect and implement policies regarding consumers’ personally identifiable information, codified by the Financial Privacy Rule. Additionally, a bipartisan group of congresspeople have introduced new legislation that may or may not be intended to cover credit unions, but it definitely demonstrates legislators’ appetite for additional consumer privacy protections. 

Maintaining compliance with data security is just as crucial in the branch as it is in the digital realm.

Second, leveraging member data privacy concerns can help your credit union deliver on better service for competitive advantage. How many times has your frontline team had to tell a member standing across the counter from them that their balance is negative? That would be incredibly embarrassing for your member to have that information overheard by anyone who happens to be standing nearby, including their neighbor or boss. Or perhaps a retired member is checking the balance of her IRA that has hundreds of thousands of dollars in it. Providing that information verbally across the counter could endanger that member. Being able to deliver that information reliably and securely is critical.

Third, while ensuring security measures to protect member data and privacy is key, increased member service levels also opens the frontline team to develop deeper relationships that can lead to increased share of wallet. When they have more time to actively listen to and engage with members, they have greater opportunities to help (read: cross sell) members based on their actual, current needs.

One platform can help solve each of these tangible opportunities and urgent problems for your credit union and your members: Tellergy. Experience what Tellergy can do for your credit union to better serve members and protect their information in your branches. It securely authenticates members in the branch, accelerates transaction speed at the teller counter and helps your credit union promote promotional campaigns. Wescom Resources Group’s software seamlessly integrates into your credit union’s core system, allowing members to verify their identities with the swipe or dip of a card – with the option for the credit union to also require a PIN. Members can conduct their transaction on the keypad and simply review it on the easy-to-read display. Members can even update their own information within the platform. Finally, display your customized marketing banners to promote your latest activities and specials.

See how BayPort Credit Union is leveraging Tellergy for secure, in-branch transactions!

For credit unions, not much is more important than compliance, security and improved member service. As legislators and regulators continue to dig into issues of consumer protection and data security, updating the technology in your branches is just as important as your digital channels.  

Enhancing Credit Union Relevance in a Quickly Changing World

June 24, 2022
Wescom CU CEO Darren Williams at Corelation

An expansion on Wescom CU CEO Darren Williams’ recent presentation at the Corelation Client Conference by WESCOM RESOURCES GROUP President Dave Cerwinski.

When I joined the credit union movement in 2006, credit unions had about an 8% share of the overall US banking market. Our common view, then and now, was that this share was too small considering the significant advantages we had over banks. In three critical areas – rates/fees, member service, and digital technology – credit unions enjoyed well-established advantages they fought long and hard for.

Wescom CU CEO Darren Williams at Corelation, art sponsored by enacomm

Fast forward to today, and we see a picture we might not have expected. Credit Union market share remains at about 8%. Due to growth, consolidation, and economies of scale, banks have in many cases wiped out the rate and fee advantages we once enjoyed. What’s more, credit unions’ service advantages have apparently eroded. This is difficult to prove, but at least one indicator, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) portrays credit unions’ 9-point advantage over banks (84 versus 75 five years ago) on overall customer satisfaction has flipped to a 76 to 78 deficit – an 11-point swing from 2006 to 2021. This same survey also holds that consumers now rate banks higher than credit unions on such metrics as Quality of Mobile App (84 to 83) and Website (83 to 80). This suggests that our Digital Technology advantage has also evaporated.

By observation, we also can see how consumers have changed the way they vote with their wallets. By Raddon’s estimate, three out of four millennials today claim one of the six big banks as their primary financial institution, up from about 50% of the same group just three years ago. And with millennials increasing their influence in the broader economy, this trend does not bode well for credit unions.

It begs the question: How do we remain relevant to consumers for our services in the years ahead?

At Wescom CU and Wescom Resources Group, we don’t fancy ourselves as futurists or visionaries, but we are definitely realists – able to look this challenge in the face and see a path to success. We don’t think for a moment that our solution at Wescom is a universal one. Our situation as credit unions is probably more like a memorable scene from the movie City Slickers in which the character Curly declares, while holding up his index finger, “There’s onesolution to life,” and when asked what that is, he responds, “It’s up to you to figure that part out!”

That said, imperatives faced by every credit union exist in which Wescom Resources Groups can play an instrumental role in carving their path forward.

One imperative is the need for scale. Across all areas of credit union operations, we must find ways to tap into the benefits of greater scale – in systems, platforms, transaction volume, and other processes. The six US mega-banks that have three-quarters of millennials as customers all possess significant scale in their operations. At Wescom Resource Group, we provide our credit union clients access to a platform and hosting center that serves credit unions with an aggregate of more than $23 Billion in assets – and we’re only at 25% of our capacity in that center. This means our platform scales to nearly $100 Billion in assets! This is not the same size as Chase or BofA, but with the diminishing marginal returns the mega-banks get past a certain point it puts us really close! Therefore, a small credit union outsourcing to Wescom Resources Group gets access to platform efficiencies and economies that equip them to compete with confidence.

A second imperative we all face is a need to invest in our people. In today’s market, we need innovators in every area of credit union operation. This includes in traditional areas like lending, member service, and marketing. But in our modern era we also need innovators in areas like data analytics, contact center, and payments. As we grow, we need sufficient organizational size to achieve a breadth and depth of talent in wide areas. We can’t do this single-handedly, we need to do it through leveraging our expertise among each other. The good news is that there’s a sweet spot in organization size when it comes to innovation. Too small, and you can’t afford all the talent you need. Too big, and your people get lost in bureaucracy. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot, where innovation reaches is biggest impact. So to compete effectively with relevance against the largest banks, we don’t need to be their same size. We can run swiftly and more effectively at a smaller size, just so long as we’re in the sweet spot.

Wescom Resources Group helps its clients occupy the sweet spot by providing the breadth and depth of our people’s talent across wide areas of IT operations and management, including Computer Ops, Network/Telecom, Enterprise Server Management, Database Architecture, App Development, Business Analytics, and more. A Wescom Resources Group client’s investment in our services enables them to tap into this talent at a small fraction of the cost of fielding this team on their own. And the investment unlocks the ability to redirect their strategic focus into other areas of growth – either through in-house resources, or hopefully via collaboration with another CUSO in different operational areas.

We don’t presume to have all the answers to the hard questions around enhancing our relevance. But we definitely have some of the building blocks. Over more than 20 years as a CUSO, we’ve worked with dozens of clients to arrange these building blocks, sometimes in unique ways, to ensure that in the areas of data processing and management, they have access to an innovative team that large banking competitors would envy! It’s good to have those advantages, and we should take them wherever we can!