The financial world is changing fast. Positioning for the future is critical in this competitive environment.
At the same time, budgets are tight because of the recent recession and slow recovery. Every line item on the expense budget is likely to be scrutinized to keep costs down, keep member satisfaction up, and maintain a competitive advantage.
Operating in a holding pattern usually won’t move the vision of a more efficient organization forward. The key, CEOs agree, is determining where your credit union wants to be in the future and streamlining its structure as much as possible.
The financials were less than healthy at $544 million asset National Institutes of Health (NIH) Federal Credit Union, Rockville, Md., when Juli Anne S. Callis, president/CEO, came on board three years ago.
“We’ve increased assets and membership, and our operating budget is approximately $500,000 less than it was two and a half years ago,” she says. “We also grew our assets more than 30% in less than two years.”
To some extent, the credit union reinvented its structure to obtain these results, says Callis. “Within the past two and a half years we custom built the credit union to serve the biomedical and health-care industries, and to best address the financial needs of such professionals in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C.”
Callis had the board’s full backing in repositioning the credit union to cut costs and make it more efficient. “It takes vision and courage to make big changes to a 70-year-old organization,” she adds, “but that’s what we did to make big gains into the ‘real world of retail banking.’”
During the past 24 months, NIH Federal retrenched to maximize technology use and to cut costs and expand services. Examples include installing new state-of-the-art ATMs, transitioning to paperless branch transactions, and outsourcing the call center while expanding live service to 24/365.
Banking solutions and products for biomedical and health-care professionals include free use of any ATM in the world, Physician’s Advantage Business Loans, and cash-back options on the free Platinum Debit Rewards card. Also in development is a unique program to help young biomedical professionals refinance burdensome nongovernment education loans.
The credit union also has taken a hard look at its credit card portfolio. “This is one area where we concentrated on loss reduction, by merging technology and outsourcing programs that include credit card, debit card, and ATM vendors,” says Callis. “The bottom line: By paying for best practices from providers we’re saving money.”
NIH Federal is currently launching a knowledge-based service solution which employs cloud technology. This will further enhance the credit union’s ability to provide consistent, fast, and quality member services by fully linking all delivery channels, says Callis.
“There’s no question we’ve made big changes in the past couple of years that have yielded greatly improved efficiency,” she adds. “Now, when we commit to a service promise, we keep it. This is evident in our new 30-minute equity and consumer loan decisioning guarantee.”
Next: Positioning for growth