Adaptability is the key to a successful pandemic | 05/18/2021



Adaptability is the secret sauce that has flavored the success of credit unions during the coronavirus pandemic (COVID 19), according to panelists at a Virtual Conference of the CUNA Financial Council 2021 general session Thursday.

Panelists say they had no idea how long they would scramble for remote work and other member service delivery options when pandemic restrictions hit in March 2020. Fifteen months longer late, things change again.

“When we got home on March 13, I thought we would be home for a few weeks or be back by summer at the latest,” says Brittni Downs, head of accounting for an asset. of $ 435 million. Ohio University Credit Union in Athens. “I didn’t think it would be summer 2021.

“A lot of my team’s initial transitions were band-aids,” she adds. “Eventually I had to go back and develop long-term solutions.”

Yet as credit unions implemented these long-term solutions, they had to “rethink every aspect of their business,” says Amy Phillips, chief financial officer (CFO) with assets of $ 348 million. On Tap Credit Union, Golden, Colo.

“What do you think now of your branch footprint?” she asks. “Do you really want to spend that kind of money on commercial real estate? [CRE]? It also affects your CRE loan plans. How does this affect your marketing strategy? “

At the same time, the past year has created a “paradigm shift” in employee expectations and culture, a theme repeated throughout the conference. Employees expect permanent remote working options or they can move on to positions with other employers.

At the same time, remote work technology and policies can provide the flexibility to hire employees from geographically remote locations. Phillips shares the story of a promising candidate that her credit union died before the pandemic due to geographic issues.

“It would be a completely different decision now,” she said.

The cultures of credit unions have evolved with these changes. Tom Kuslikis, Vice President of Accounting and Finance and CFO with $ 1.2 billion in assets University of Michigan Credit Union in Ann Arbor, says her credit union engages employees through social media, virtual gatherings and entertainment, and rewards, even including employee families in activities.

“It’s different, but it’s no worse,” Kuslikis says of the remote culture still developing. “As we move forward, we will continue to use what we learned this year to maintain our current culture.”

A key lesson learned: the importance of bench strength, says Kuslikis. “With COVID-19, we’ve learned that if someone breaks down, you still need a trained person to replace them at all times, and that includes leadership training and leadership training.”

Credit unions have also implemented long-term solutions for members, including contactless payments and digital appointment scheduling. The University of Michigan Credit Union switched to a more robust online banking platform that offered members more self-service options, Kuslikis says.

He says removing ‘weak spots’ for employees in digital processes has also been critical over the past year, including’ anything that makes the process more efficient when interacting with a member in front of face”.

â–º Visit CUNA news for more conference coverage and see event highlights on Twitter via the #FinanceCouncil hashtag. Learn more about the CUNA Finance Council, a professional corporation run by its members for caisse officers


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