CUNA Councils chat explores COVID-19 best practices, challenges

CEOs share experiences with staff, member communication, and more during live chat event.

March 26, 2020

Going above and beyond their essential business purpose, credit unions are offering solutions to ease the challenges and anxiety of the coronavirus (COVID-19) threat for both members and employees, credit union leaders said during a CEO Council Chat Thursday, presented by the CUNA Councils.

Maurice Smith, president/CEO of $2.2 billion asset Local Government Federal Credit Union, Raleigh, N.C., moderated the unique, live chat event.

“We’re built for these kinds of moments to show that the cooperative model works for the members and the community,” Smith says, “and we do a good job of showing that to members so they are confident in the way we do business and what type of financial institution they belong to.”

Most institutions have closed lobbies and offer transaction services via drive-thru. They’re also offering financial products to help members through financial shortfalls created by quarantine requirements associated with COVID-19 safety measures.

Key topics addressed during the session included member financial relief, staffing challenges, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requirements, the threat of members and employees contracting the virus, and communication to members and staff.

“We are doing 90-day extensions and an emergency relief loan up to $2,500 with 90 days deferred payments,” one participant writes.

Another says his credit union “put a halt” on foreclosures and repossessions temporarily. Many other credit unions have similar deferments in place.

Other credit unions are bypassing "one-size-fits-all" solutions for members experiencing anxiety over decreased income. “We are evaluating each member’s situation to determine how to best relieve their fears,” a participant reports.

Other comments from attendees:

  • “Scams are raging aplenty. Our older members are being targeted now more than ever.”
  • “We have a dedicated web page to assist members with specific questions. It is updated continually. We are finding that members want information but they don't want to be overwhelmed.”
  • “We remind members that credit unions are federally insured up to $250,000 on deposits.”
  • “We send daily email updates to staff. Those updates include how we are handling challenges and CDC recommendations, etc. When they learned our board approved pay for all staff on rotating schedules, it relieved a lot of fear.”

Credit unions also are paying some employees regardless of their work status. “We’re paying everyone even though we’re running a split shift right now,” one participant writes.

Hygiene and social distancing are top priorities, too. “We’re cleaning and sanitizing often,” one attendee writes. “Our employees have the option to wear gloves. We’re asking employees to wash their hands often, and not touch their faces.”

CUNA Council members have been joining together for unique, live chat events to discuss ideas and responses to the current coronavirus situation. Topics are gathered from discussions in the Councils Community and members are encouraged to provide topics or questions upon registration. Council members can register for upcoming sessions, and receive chat transcripts and slides if they are unable to attend live.

Read about more CUNA Councils chats here.