Benefits of IaaS for Credit Unions

May 13, 2022

Credit unions, as cooperatives, are already familiar with leveraging economies of scale through collaboration. Your digital infrastructure is no different.

Infrastructure as a Service, or IaaS, allows credit unions to securely scale technology and capabilities at a fraction of the cost through service providers. Typically, IaaS includes everything from servers to storage to networking and operating software – the entire stack. This can be used exclusively or in combination with on-prem technologies.

All seeing eye representing comprehensive technology for Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) for credit unions

Credit unions can enjoy many benefits of this model. First and foremost is scalability; add and subtract based on your needs without taking up space and wasting resources. Use what you need and eliminate management tasks by outsourcing them to your provider. Think of what your IT team can accomplish when they are no longer responsible for the mundane, frequent patching and testing. Consider the security of having experts solely dedicated to preventing and monitoring for internal and external threats and acting quickly and automatically when a threat is detected.

And at a fraction of the cost!

IaaS also improves the reliability of your technology for your staff and your members. No more stressing about your systems going down. IaaS can provide data backups and automatic failovers to keep your member data secure and the credit union up and running!

The Power of a CUSO

And with a CUSO, all of that is even better because IaaS is built specifically for credit unions by credit unions. Product support is optimized for credit unions’ data management needs, like routine job automation and processing, network load balancing and firewall, storage area network, data backup and ransomware protection.

Plus, subject matter experts for credit unions in Information Security, Host System Programming, Server Administration & Engineering, Network & Telecommunications and Host Computer Operations. Copious, highly specific expertise can be obtained at a much-reduced rate than a single credit union would invest to staff up, thanks to the power of collaboration.

The Power of Wescom Resources Group

Our people, products and processes provide credit unions with access to the scalability, security and reliability they require to thrive in an ever-changing, digitally driven world. Wescom Resources Group’s experts deliver 24/7 focused support, making your credit union’s systems ultra-secure and highly available. 

We can make that claim because our Unitri data management features:

  • Two separate data center locations
  • Primary system capacity for client-provided servers or leased access to our shared systems
  • Failover system capacity via leased access to our shared systems
  • Numerous system hosting features.

And Wescom Resources Group’s team updates, tests and has those systems audited on a regular basis to ensure our clients’ business continuity for their members. We save your staff a tremendous amount of time by handling repetitive work activities, allowing them to stay focused on strategy and innovation. Learn more about Wescom Resources Group’s Unitri Data Management here!

7 Credit Union Branch Upgrades for Your Retail Strategy and Budget

August 24, 2021

Phrases like ‘the new normal’ and ‘Zoom fatigue’ are some of the hottest of 2020 and 2021, since COVID-19 hit the U.S.  

Another: The branch is dead. Long live the branch!

Branches have changed and will continue to evolve, but members – regardless of age – will always need them for more consultative financial services. Creating a better return on investment, means smaller real estate footprints with high-tech and high-touch services. Or your credit union may have the greatest location for a branch, but you no longer require so much space.

Here are some best practices for your credit union branching strategy – and wallet – as you prepare your credit union and your budget for 2022 and beyond.

  1. Outsource to experts. Credit union leaders cannot be expected to know everything. Find a solid branch consulting firm and rely on them for advice on locations, size, technology and design or re-design.
Streamlining the Credit Union Branch
  1. Eliminate friction. Leverage technology that can make your branches and team members more efficient, while offering a high-tech and high-touch experience for members. Wescom Resources Group’s Tellergy is a platform that ensures transaction accuracy and security, while also providing your frontline team with more time to focus on members’ well-being rather than entering data. Learn more about Tellergy here!
  2. Decentralize and empower experienced lenders and frontline staff. Consider whether all decisions need to run up the same chain of command, or whether a flatter organization would provide better leadership development, decision making and member service.
  3. Staff appropriately, cross train and think about the universal banker model. Hire your frontline team for character and personality over existing skills. That former Starbuck barista might become your members’ new favorite teller. Members go into the branch for a human experience, so give them what they want. Also, discuss whether the universal banker model is right for your credit union; as an alternative, cross train your frontline staff, so members feel cared for and an emotional connection to that person.
  4. Respect the senses.

Sight: People look left when they enter a building and then turn right. Angled passageways and spaces are more inviting. Design or redesign your branch for humans.

Sound: Low-volume music invites people to stay longer while slightly louder music can hurry them along. Think about which works better for your credit union and membership.

Smell: One study fund that citrus scents decrease impulse buying but increase purchases for more “contemplative shoppers,” which is important when you’re talking about high-dollar purchases like a car or home.

Taste (yes, taste!): Hungry people make less wise decisions, so offer snacks to help curb buyer’s remorse for that loan.

Touch: The sturdiness of your branch fixtures, technology and furniture makes an impression, so make them ones of quality, stability and strength.

  1. Location, location, location. If your credit union has a branch in an ideal spot but finds it has too much space for the technology driven, COVID world, offering up part of your space as a community center for area events or other companies to use provides yet another reason for members and potential members to come into the branch and can help network the credit union for more and deeper partnerships in the community.
  1. Consistency. Branding, messaging and service should be consistent across all your credit union’s platforms. McDonalds didn’t become wildly popular for its great food or customer service – it’s consistent (right down to the broken ice cream machines).

Credit union branches are far from dead but give them the rebirth they and your members deserve to maintain relationships and relevance in your community.

5+ Benefits to Outsourced Core Hosting and Managed Services

Hosting Webinar

As we move further into 2021, it’s clear the credit union business has changed even if the foundational philosophy has not. People have come to rely on technology more at home and work; employees are spending less time in the office and credit unions have discovered how to be more efficient through technology, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, have you found the right partner to help solve common problems that keep CTOs up at night?

Take credit union core hosting and managed services, for example. Approximately half of all credit unions outsource their core hosting, CUinsight reported, and they are saving between 25% and 50% versus managing their own core.

Please join TTCU CTO Andy Tripp, Wescom CU Alex Munro and WRG’s David Cerwinski & Kerry Schiappa for insights your credit union can turn into action! Click here to learn more!

There are many benefits to outsourcing your core hosting and the various levels of managed services a credit union leader might consider, from potential IT hardware and data center investment savings to personnel savings (particularly in the high-priced tech space) to compliance and more. That means your credit union can refocus your team on doing what they do best: Serve the members.

Key Core Hosting & Managed Services Benefits

Security

Hosting either your servers running your applications or your applications and data on external servers. Core hosting and managed services providers take on the heavy lifting of providing both physical security as well as protection against ever-increasing cybersecurity threats.

Continuity of Business

Ensure real-time replication of your credit union’s data with geographic diversity. If there’s a hurricane or wildfire in your area, your credit union can continue operations, if necessary, virtually. Companies, like WRG, feature data centers with solutions to let your services fail over to another facility, giving you the peace of mind that your network will stay up and running, and your data is safe.

Expertise

Companies in core hosting and managed services have the right people who know how to run central services remotely. You can have a team that’s dedicated to running your services and creating the best solution for you, keeping the network connected, secured, and running smoothly without interruption every day of the year.

Processing

Do you have batch processes that need to be run at certain hours? Reports that need to be generated off your systems? Managed services firms can work with your credit union to automate processes to handle myriad processing demands when you need them.

Savings

CreditUnions.com reported that one $56 million credit union saved $50,000 in one year by outsourcing, and a $335 million credit union saved $15,000 each month!

And at WRG, we’re proud to provide all of this, plus the flexibility and control you need to succeed. If you’d like WRG to simply provide power and connectivity to your servers, we can do that. If your credit union would like maintenance and support for your servers in our data center, we can do that, too. Or would you prefer to use our servers for your applications and data? WRG can support that model or any combination.

WRG is a CUSO, wholly owned by Wescom Credit Union, so we understand your needs and we’ll work with you to identify the best solution to suit your credit union’s needs. We want to be the business partner that takes much of the weight off your IT and operations teams’ back to help them stay focused on looking forward, and not just keeping your credit union up and running today. With WRG’s Unitri Managed Services, we can help super-charge your team with the right expertise, processes and products to keep you serving your members.

Click here to learn more about Unitri, and please don’t hesitate to reach out to Kerry with your questions.

Credit Unions: Is Service excellence enough?

As credit union professionals, we often remind ourselves that our success depends heavily on delivering excellent member service.

Case in point: At a recent industry conference, a speaker proposed that among the three commonly-recognized market strategies that enterprises pursue, only one of those three succeeds in the long-term for credit unions. That strategy is Customer Intimacy. The other two – Product Innovation and Operational Efficiency – cannot realistically be sustained because of the enormous economies of scale that are required for either.

But is Customer Intimacy enough? More directly: is Customer Intimacy actually immune to the economy of scale dynamics that prevent reaching superiority in Product Innovation and Operational Efficiency?

To answer that, consider the following thought experiment: Suppose a large national bank invested in technology that made it possible for each consumer to have a real-time, personalized, AI-driven, virtual financial adviser which they could consult with about any financial decision.  This adviser worked so well that it felt like an actual person you got to know, and they gave you data-based financial recommendations you came to rely on.

Would this provide a superior Customer Experience? Probably so. Could it be duplicated by a credit union? Likely not, at least not without a lot of collaboration and help. My point here is to demonstrate that even Customer Intimacy is not insulated from economies of scale and resources. Huge companies like Amazon build tremendous loyalty and intimacy as a direct result of scale.

That said, I believe we still have strategies that can win. But the ultimate solution for each of us is very complicated, and requires a combination of several different factors. Customer Intimacy is not enough. What do you think? What sustainable advantages can we count on — as separate FI’s, or collectively? Something noted above, or maybe something different altogether?