Why Your Credit Union Needs Offsite Backup

 

Is your credit union considering implementing offsite backup services?

An offsite backup is a tool used to replicate your credit union’s (or any business’s) data and store it on a server or medium that is housed in a different location. While local backups are a good start, those backups stored on a hard drive or other media and are more geared toward protecting your data in the event of a small issue, like corruption of a single file.

Cybersecurity threats have been on the rise for several years, and the pandemic exacerbated that. Here’s why your credit union needs offsite backup.

Disasters & Storage Space

Your credit union is a financial institution that is dedicated to its members. That means the space in your branches and physical locations is better utilized when your data backups are housed outside of that location.

Offsite backups offer the benefit of keeping your office storage space to a minimum so you can house more staff members and member-inclusive areas like lobbies and private meeting rooms.

Storing your data offsite also means any natural or other disasters that affect your credit union operations will not affect your backups. Fire, tornado, hurricane, earthquake – your locations have their own specific weather threats that can disrupt or destroy data and data-housing hardware if all your backups are stored on-site.

Reduced Time & Cost

If you don’t have to pay for the technology that houses your data, and you don’t have to manage the backups, you can save time and money. That’s the beauty of offsite backup services.

You can outsource the purchase and upkeep of your data backup system by partnering with IMS to store your data safely offsite and to have it monitored and protected.

This also saves your IT staff and credit union managers and leaders time by removing some, if not all, of the data backup duties from their plates. Your credit union operations can continue efficiently and cost-effectively.

Increased Security

And speaking of protection, there are several benefits to offsite backup on that front, too.

Should your credit union or branch be hit with malware that affects your entire local network, your offsite backups are still safe. This can decrease the impact of things like ransomware and create great opportunities for near-seamless disaster recovery protocols.

You also remove the opportunity for human error by moving the data offsite. This way, files can’t be confused or stolen through employee error or malicious intent.

Offsite backups are disconnected from your main networks, so any issues you have with those networks will leave your backups completely unaffected.

Peace of Mind

Housing all your assets in one place is never a great business strategy, especially when those assets include sensitive personal and financial information. You and your members will be able to rest easy knowing that their information is protected in a data center with technology that was built to serve credit union needs.

Remote work and hybrid office spaces also mean that the availability of data has changed. Keeping all important backups in one place when your credit union may have people accessing it from unfamiliar homes and public networks has increased the chances of a malicious attack.

By incorporating offsite backup solutions into your business continuity and disaster recovery plans, you can ensure that the big disasters will have virtually no effect on the integrity of your data.

Cloud-Based Offsite Backup Solutions

IMS offers an automated, unattended backup solution that keeps your data from physical and virtual machines securely stored at an IMS data center.

Our could-based backup services are powered by Rubrik, the premier backup solution on the market. We provide fast and efficient backup that includes both on-premise backup and offsite replication.

Our Rubrik backup solution includes:

  • Backup & recovery
  • Continuous data protection
  • Ransomware Recovery Replication & disaster recovery
  • Virtualized environments
  • Windows & Unix protection

Your data is the digital backbone of your credit union operations. And more and more people are prioritizing security and continuity in their banking and other financial service providers. 


Disaster Recovery Dos & Don’ts

 

Credit unions have had their fair share of setbacks in the last year. However, the recent 4th quarter report from the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) shows that assets, shares, and deposits grew during the last months of 2021. To capitalize on that momentum, your credit union must continue to provide more on-demand and real-time products and services while you grow your member base.

But you can’t do that without a top-tier disaster recovery plan. But what does a good plan look like? Let’s go through some disaster recovery dos and don’ts.

Do: Set Plans & Goals for Your Disaster Recovery

Every disaster recovery system needs to be tested. And for you to measure how well your test and disaster recovery system work, you need to have something to measure against.

The best way to do that is to identify and set goals for KPIs (key performance indicators). The most common include recovery time objective (the amount of time that can pass before your business has been impacted by the disaster) and recovery point objective (the maximum amount of data that can be lost).

Best practice is to test your disaster recovery and business continuity plans at least once every year. This includes emergency evacuation drills, walkthroughs, and risk assessment reviews along with your recovery plans.

Don’t: Rely on Protecting Just the Basics

It’s important to protect the core components of your business in your disaster recovery plan, including the items that you need for compliance reasons. But that should just be a starting point. As you work on your disaster recovery strategy, it’s important to look at all aspects of your credit union’s operations.

Are there contingencies in place that will allow you to communicate with remote or offsite staff members? Are your software, app, or plugin vendors considered in your plans? Do you have a detailed description of who does what during the disaster?

Even if you don’t prioritize everything on a scale from most important to least, thinking through the intricacies of your credit union’s operations can help you mitigate damage and mobilize support when it’s necessary.

Your disaster recovery plan can consist of several smaller plans based on your credit union’s branches, departments, and even the emergency type.

For example, your IT department may need to have different priorities in different disasters. This can be based on the potential threat to the physical components of your security system versus the digital ones.

Do: Make Your People a Priority

You’d be surprised how many disaster recovery plans go into exquisite detail about the operations and technology considerations, but they leave out the human element.

Many disasters are natural or physical in nature – and that presents many opportunities for your staff to be harmed. Here are a few things to think about as you create your credit union disaster recovery plan:

  • Where are the shelters or gathering areas for things like a fire, flood, tornado, hurricane, or another natural disaster?
  • What is the survival plan for your employees if there is an active shooter?
  • If people are injured, how do you want your teams to help? Which staff members should be prioritized? These questions and plans may need to be augmented by a medical professional’s opinion.
  • Who will contact the authorities in the event of a disaster, accident, or other harmful situation?

You can’t ensure business continuity if you aren’t protecting the ones who are doing that work for you. And don’t forget to make sure that all your employees are able to get to your designated areas without trouble. This includes people with physical disabilities (from limited mobility to deafness or blindness)

Don’t: Forget to Define the Impact of the Disasters You’re Preparing For

You can increase or decrease the scope of your credit union disaster recovery plan to include a business impact analysis.

A business impact analysis can help you measure and prepare for how each different disaster will actually affect your operations. This includes everything from employee tasks that are interrupted or rendered unusable, impact on credit union members and member services, data loss, and more.

Here are some examples.

Let’s say the disaster you are preparing for is a ransomware threat. In the business impact analysis, you’d list the impact of that disaster: data loss, employees unable to access files which lead to lost productivity, corruption of technology and other digital assets.

However, if the disaster is a tornado, the impact is much different: loss or damage of equipment, buildings, etc., potential data loss, information systems going offline, human injury, loss of productivity, member services and experience will suffer.

These impact areas may be different based on the size and operations of your credit union. But a good business impact analysis will not only prepare you for what to do in an emergency, it will also show you what areas will suffer. This gives you insight into what and how you should implement preventative and other measures to create a successful disaster recovery plan.

Worry-Free Disaster Recovery Services

Server crashes, human error, malicious activity, natural disasters – your credit union could succumb to any one of these disasters at any time.

Disaster recovery is an integral part of your business continuity. As more and more people rely on real-time banking technology, any downtime and data loss are major hits to your credit union.

IMS offers worry-free disaster recovery. We help you keep your credit union operational by ensuring your critical servers, branches, and third-party vendor communications are all recovered quickly.


Foster Financial Inclusion at Your CU

 

More than half of adult consumers in the US are financially unhealthy, according to a study from the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI). And of the 1 in 5 Americans who have no bank account, all of them often choose to use nonbank options rather than your member-centered credit union. So how do we increase access to credit union services in a way that captures this huge potential member audience?

Financial inclusion is a concept that is defined by many factors, but the main goal is to ensure that all communities, regardless of race, status, or financial education, have equal access to credit union services and opportunities.

Here are some ways you can foster financial inclusion at your credit union.

Create Digital Solutions

Your members should be from all walks of life. And digital tools are the best way to foster equality in terms of financial barriers to entry. Some of the main reasons people choose not to use banking or credit union services include things like the branch’s hours of operation not working for their schedule, and the inconvenience it causes them when they have to go out of their way and physically visit one of your locations.   

Digital tools can help remove those barriers and create meaningful progress toward full financial inclusion.

These tools can be member-facing or in the background.

For member-facing digital tools, one of the most popular recently has been the inclusion of online self-service forms, account opening, and web loan applications.

And these member-facing solutions are only as good as the digital infrastructure that supports them. That’s why it’s also important to use a leading provider of enterprise data protection like IMS to keep things running smoothly with solutions like compliance and IaaS.

Mobile solutions are also a growing sector within the digital banking realm. Accessibility in banking means meeting your members where it is most convenient for them, whether that’s in your lobby, in their home office, or in their phone screen.

Keep Up with Industry News

Recently, the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Diversity and Inclusion was created by Chairwoman Joyce Beatty (D-OH) and Ranking Member Ann Wagner (R-MO).

The goal of the committee is to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion in the financial and banking sectors. Part of the committee’s purpose is to introduce new legislation (called the Financial Access for Underserved Communities Act) that includes expanding classifications for credit unions as “low-income” credit unions. This would mean that if any area is more than 10 miles from the nearest branch of a financial institution, it would receive the “low-income” distinction.

The bill that includes this change would also allow federal credit unions to add these underserved communities to their field of membership.

Legislation is changing all the time, and another way to increase financial inclusion in your credit union and its practices is to keep your ear to the ground when it comes to developing initiatives. Using your credit union’s status and expertise to weigh in on and share important changes to the system can also help educate members and non-members alike.

Share the Importance of Moving Banked Dollars into CUs

Certain big businesses, like NerdWallet, have recently moved assets from big banks into CDs (Certificate of Deposit) in an effort to create more equity in communities that are disproportionately struggling due to the pandemic.

Investments made in order to bring assets to credit unions are a surefire way to help individuals and businesses in your CU’s community. You can encourage and ask bigger businesses with ties to your communities to help in these efforts.

Now, more consumers are holding big businesses accountable and asking that they show their commitment to the communities that support them by giving back to those communities.

Doing this through a credit union can help those individuals and businesses get the same financial opportunities given by big banks, and even get them at competitive rates.

Embrace BNPL

Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions are gaining popularity across the country as we work to decrease the number of unbanked and underbanked individuals. This practice allows  

Credit unions can combat the need for prepaid cards in underserved communities by offering BNPL and other debit-forward options with no added fees. This allows you to create meaningful relationships with these communities. You can also use these products and services to boost financial inclusion in the communities your credit union serves.

Use Your Data to Create an Inclusive Future for Your CU

Your data is the gateway to help people access your credit union services. It’s also a way to foster membership growth, problem-solving and troubleshooting, and so much more. In order to promote financial inclusion, it’s important to create a digital atmosphere that can support all of your members’ diverse and unique needs.

The IMS DataArchiver saves up to 80% of primary storage costs and is scalable to manage unlimited file servers in a distributed environment with zero disruption to end-users.


CU Tips for Serving the Unbanked & Underbanked

 

The Federal Reserve has reported that 22% of US adults are unbanked or underbanked. And one of the top reasons Americans report not wanting to put their financial assets into the hands of banks and credit unions is because they don’t trust them.

But this puts credit unions at an advantage over big banks – many Americans struggle with brand trust, especially with for-profit brands. Credit unions are financial institutions that only exist to serve specific communities, industries, and areas. Here are some tips for using your credit union to better serve the unbanked and underbanked.

Build from Your Foundation

As we mentioned, credit unions are built on brand trust – they are non-profit organizations owned by their members.

The first thing you should be doing is educating your communities (both in-person and online) about these advantages. It’s hard for the unbanked and underbanked to have the same trust issues with your credit unions when they, as members, are the owners and primary beneficiaries of your products and services. As more and more people become distrustful of big business, it’s important to remind your members and non-members alike that you are here for them.

Regain Market Share from Payday Lenders

According to a recent article from the Credit Union Times, unsecured consumer loans account for less than 10% of credit union’s loan portfolios, but make up 100% of the portfolios for payday lenders. The article posits, “one could argue that payday lenders are already making more money serving the underbanked than credit unions serving the banked in the same product category.”

By using your recently-implemented online products and services at your credit union, you could take back this market share and still make a good profit, even by offering loans that cap at 18% APR. Compared to the 400-500% being charged by payday lenders, this not only can help you generate more business for your credit union, but it also offers unbanked and underbanked individuals a great opportunity to start building brand trust. This could even lead to more of these people choosing to become members of your credit union.

Focus on the Needs of Low-Income Communities

Most unbanked and underbanked individuals are found in lower-income communities. While that community may only be a part of the areas you serve, it’s still important to create connections within it.

A great way to foster those connections is to partner with local non-profits. These organizations operate as food banks, community centers, minority-led professional associations, and other businesses.

Focus on creating business relationships with non-profits that can help you grow your membership while you help them get their products and services more attention.

You can offer financial literacy and education classes at local community centers or set up a booth at a community event to offer quick budgeting consultations to underbanked and unbanked individuals. And then you can put out donation jars or other marketing materials from your non-profit partner. You can also feature them at your next community event or become a sponsor for their next program.

Part of expanding your services to the unbanked and underbanked is meeting them where they are.

Re-Examine Your Minimums and Other Fees

According to a detailed paper from The Clearing House, thee of the top four cited reasons people do not have a bank account include:

  • Not having enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements
  • Don’t trust banks
  • Bank fees are too high

These issues have the potential to be solved through a re-examination of your credit union’s current fees, minimum requirements, and other potential barriers to entry.

The unpredictability of these fees also drives away the unbanked and underbanked. In a study cited by the paper, one of the main reasons people choose payday lenders (whose services virtually always cost more to use than a bank or credit union) is because many check-cashing customers “preferred to pay predictable flat fees they understand, rather than incur unexpected charges.”

Simplicity and transparency are worth more than stability in their finances. These brand trust issues run deeply through the unbanked and underbanked, and that distrust has to be addressed by your credit union if you hope to grow your membership.

Use Your Expertise & Assets to Educate

Part of what keeps people unbanked and underbanked is the distrust in the motives of financial institutions. Historically, those with fewer or less reliable assets are preyed upon by banks who look to hike interest rates as well as other penalties and fees. This creates a cycle that keeps unbanked and underbanked individuals in their current situation. And partnering with a bank that doesn’t have their best interests in mind only perpetuates and exacerbates the debt cycle for these people.

To help bridge the gaps between your credit union and the unbanked and underbanked populations, you can use your expertise, educational resources, and online assets to create connections with these individuals.

Even just running a few marketing campaigns online and via social media could pull in new prospects that have unique needs your credit union is already able to assist with.

Next-Level Credit Union Solutions

Unbanked and underbanked individuals may not bring record-breaking cash amounts into your business, but it’s important to serve this subset of your community to create more diversity in your membership. It’s also a great way to show your members that serving them, in any capacity, is your credit union’s top priority.

When serving your members is your main concern, it’s easy to push other things aside, like data management, backups, and disaster recovery, or IaaS. At IMS, we are created to provide you with the private cloud services you need to keep your operations running smoothly. IMS uses the premier backup solution for credit unions, which can give you peace of mind as you work to improve your credit union for your staff and your members.


Benefits of Cryptocurrency for Credit Unions

 

The emergence of cryptocurrency has created a lot of buzz in the banking and financial industries. Its very name evokes ideas of cryptic, mysterious doings. As the world becomes more familiar with the intricacies of these new types of digital currency, it’s important for your credit union to know what the buzz is about.

Cryptocurrency was born on the internet. And its virtually universal accessibility makes it attractive to younger and more digital-forward investors and other interested parties. Recently, new guidance was introduced to help credit unions forge a path in this new landscape. Let’s talk about the benefits of cryptocurrency for credit unions.

Cryptocurrencies for Credit Unions

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) has already begun sharing guidance on credit unions and cryptocurrencies. The goal is to create relationships between federally insured credit unions (FICUs) and third-party entities that buy, sell, and hold these digital assets.

A cryptocurrency is a form of digital money with no centralized authority. This means transactions are recorded on a digital ledger automatically. The increased interest in cryptocurrencies has led many banking experts to conclude that credit unions could generate some impressive growth by expanding into these new markets.

Cashless financial services have been the trend for several years now, even before COVID-19 came along. Demand for cryptocurrency access continues to grow as well.

The biggest problem with these new digital currencies is that they are not well regulated yet. When transactions take place, they’re logged into the blockchain – the database that monitors all cryptocurrency transactions. There’s no government regulating these transactions, and anyone who uses the blockchain can view it and the transactions therein.

Many people have been using credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies. But the speculative nature of these markets has caused some banks and credit card companies to deny these transactions.

Benefits and Risks of Offering Crypto Services

More and more businesses are embracing cryptocurrency. You can make Starbucks, Microsoft, Shopify, Home Depot, and Whole Foods purchases with crypto “coins.” The main benefit for those who deal in cryptocurrency is the ability to access and move their money without the use of a third party. They are digital files you can store in digital wallets and use anywhere online with participating merchants.

The regulations issues surrounding the crypto industry continue to be concerning for credit unions and other financial institutions that are more in tune with risk management best practices and compliance.

However, credit unions that wish to stay away from this trend may be missing a big market opportunity. In December 2020, a Cornerstone Advisors survey showed that almost 70% of cryptocurrency owners would use their primary banks for digital investments. However, very few financial institutions are interested in managing these transactions.

21 million adults already own some form of cryptocurrency, and this group offers a huge growth opportunity for credit unions willing to take the leap. This could be a big selling point for future member attraction and retention efforts.

Ways to Get Your CU Involved

There are several options for credit unions wishing to mitigate the risks that come with handling cryptocurrency.

First, you can work with a third-party business. Using mobile apps, you can create transaction opportunities for your credit union members, while running all of these assets (and the associated risk) through a third party.

You can also provide crypto custody services. This falls more onto the record-keeping side of things and includes services like safekeeping, analytics, asset servicing, lending, pricing and valuation, trading, payments and settlements, and collateral.

And positioning your credit union as an early partner for cryptocurrency lovers is a great way to banish the myth that credit unions are technologically challenged.

Offering crypto services is also a great way to reach specific members of the unbanked and underbanked audiences. These individuals love having the option to conduct business without having to create or maintain a bank account.

Cryptocurrency will soon be more regulated. Executives within government and financial compliance agencies, like the SEC, are announcing plans to use legislation and other methods to make cryptocurrency more regulated and mainstream.

Protect Your Members’ Assets from Cash to Crypto

Like many consumers, crypto holders are more likely to partner with financial institutions that offer crypto-specific services. Not sure about jumping into the cryptocurrency game? Credit unions can also offer custodial services, create crypto-forward debit and credit card rewards or interest enhancement, and more.

Credit unions are seen as trustworthy and member-forward. Being among the first institutions (and even beating fintechs to the punch) could be a great way to usher in a new generation of online investors.

As your credit union branches out into new digital territories, compliance becomes even more important. With IMS, you can create safeguards for even the most sensitive of data.

Polaris Sonar, our new SaaS application, applies machine learning to discover, classify, and report on sensitive data without impacting production. You will be able to:

  • automate with machine learning and policies
  • identify sensitive data exposure
  • accelerate compliance with privacy laws

Browse these and more offerings here on our website or contact us today!


6 CU Tips for National Credit Education Month

 

 

March is National Credit Education Month! This is a great time to help educate your credit union members about credit health, establishing credit, and much more.

Younger generations of credit union and banking members are more inclined to use debit solutions. But credit is an important facet of financial health, and this is the month to highlight your CU solutions.

Here are some of our favorite tips for celebrating National Credit Education Month.

Focus on Providing Credit Education

One thing that credit unions do better than any other financial institution is educating members. The secrets to credit health aren’t hoarded within the vaults of your CU; you are here to help your members create the best version of their financial lives.

Focus on providing resources to your member base. This could include helping them determine the best online sites for free credit scores and monitoring or enrolling them in specific classes or webinars to help boost their credit confidence.

Many Gen Z members and younger Millennials are hoping to buy their first homes in the next several years. And many of them don’t have enough established lines of credit to qualify for home loans. Now is the perfect time to help educate them on how to create and manage these lines of credit responsibly.

Offer classes or online resources (blog articles, infographics) about:

  • different types of installment loans
  • revolving credit
  • home equity
  • hard versus soft inquiries
  • collections
  • how to deal with errors in your credit
  • and more

And don’t forget to include any educational assets that are unique to or created by your credit union itself.

Help Members Make Plans to Improve Their Credit Score This Year

After educating your audience, you can help them incorporate these newfound concepts into real-life practices.

It’s been another tough year for your members. More COVID-implemented protections are being rolled back, including the resumption of federal student loan payments expected to begin on May 1, 2022.

There are many steps you can advise your members to take that will create good credit momentum, including:

  • Setting up automatic payments
  • Paying down balances
  • Addressing, negotiating, or disputing debt that is in collections
  • Getting a small 6 to 24-month “credit builder” loan
  • Opting for secure credit cards
  • Keeping old credit accounts open even if you’re not using them

Practical tips and “life hack” style advice are not just trendy clickbait. They’re also impactful for those struggling to get back on their feet after the economic disasters of the last few years. Offer your members some hope this year and use National Credit Education Month to help them spring forward into a better year!

Credit Tracking

Those Credit Karma commercials were right – many people still don’t know what constitutes a hard or soft check on your credit. National Credit Education Month is a great time to feature helpful tools for checking credit that don’t impact a member’s credit score.

You can create blog or social media content comparing the different free websites and tools that are available. You can also offer consultations and educational sessions to help members navigate their credit score tracking journeys.

Offer Budgeting Courses

Your credit union likely already has staff members who are well-versed in helping your members learn how to budget. Or maybe you have budget templates available for those who are interested. Either way, a successful budget education and implementation can change a credit union member’s life. And you are already likely putting in the work to help educate your members on how to budget, so why not highlight those services this month?

Tailor E-Statements to Include More Credit Insights

Another quick way to help celebrate National Credit Education Month is to include more credit-related insights, tips, and tricks on your members’ e-statements. This gives them personalized information about their credit health and adds value to your membership offerings.

This can be done in conjunction with social media posts, email campaigns, and more quick reference materials that encourage your audience to connect with professionals at your credit union.

Educate Your Staff

Speaking of credit union professionals, your staff is another great resource for this month. Offer them some additional education on providing insights to your members about credit checks, resources, and more.

If your staff is encouraged to learn or re-learn this information, your members will benefit from that education too.

Credit Union Solutions: Data Discovery & Storage

We are in a data crisis. There is so much data being generated and stored via various channels that intersect with your credit union. It’s impossible for your staff to keep up without help. That’s why IMS offers targeted technology, tailored specifically to credit union operations.

The IMS DataArchiver saves up to 80% of primary storage costs, and significantly reduces backup times. Our solution is scalable to manage unlimited file servers in a distributed environment with zero disruption to end-users.


Managing CU Employee Turnover

 

There are several workplace trends that will affect how your credit union weathers 2022 and beyond. One of the most significant is the competition for attracting and retaining talent. 2021 saw the Great Resignation, a movement characterized by massive amounts of people quitting their jobs to look for work that better suits their lifestyle.

So, what can you do to keep your credit union adequately staffed? Let’s go through some leadership tactics for managing credit union employee turnover.

Do Your Retention Research

Though it is an incredibly useful tool, many companies don’t conduct exit interviews, either in certain instances or at all.

There are many ways to use your own workforce to discover insights into curbing employee turnover trends. It’s important to open more lines of communication between all levels of employees when it comes to expectations, compensation, and conflict resolution.

Employees are quicker than ever to leave a company if they feel they aren’t being heard or treated fairly. Your first move in curbing credit union employee turnover should be to implement strategies and opportunities for staff members to share thoughts and concerns with leadership teams. And these opportunities should be presented in a way that is actionable and truly taken seriously.

Some things to think about:

  • How do employees view communication channels between themselves and your credit union? Are they effective, transparent, and impactful?
  • How do your employees feel about their roles and responsibilities? Have their feelings changed recently? What has caused those changes?
  • Are there improvements that could be made to help foster communication between leaders, employees, and peers?

Evaluate Management Protocols & Training

Employee turnover is often caused by negative relationships between employees and management and a lack of trust in an organization.

When it comes to improving these relationships, it’s important to know what you are working with in the beginning. Do your management teams have training that allows them to resolve conflict effectively? Or are you just leaving your managers to use their best judgment and escalate issues to HR if they are uncomfortable continuing certain conversations?

Evaluating your management protocols and training in regard to communication and transparency is a critical piece of the credit union employee retention plan.

Employees don’t leave bad companies; they leave bad managers. And this is truer than ever. Employee engagement can be tough, and stagnation can happen at all levels of leadership. That’s why manager training should be refreshed periodically to improve managers’ emotional intelligence levels as well as their interpersonal skills.

Your managers (should) already demonstrate that they can manage credit union employees and operations. The training they need is more valuable when it’s focused on how to effectively manage and evaluate people and their emotions.

Focus on Fostering Purpose and Upholding Values

Credit union employee turnover goes down when individuals feel like they have a strong purpose and direction driving their work. While we can’t all have jobs where we save lives or help people in need, there are many ways to instill a sense of individual purpose in your employees.

Leaders should foster interactions where each employee is being recognized for fulfilling their professional purpose. We can take a hint from the number of nurses who are upset at having worked through a global pandemic and then being rewarded with tumblers or pizza parties. Efforts should be put forth to create meaningful recognition of individual employee purpose.

Another way to foster purpose and instill a sense of integrity is to make sure employees at all levels of leadership are upholding the values that adorn your walls and websites. If your mission, vision, and values don’t match your work environment, credit union employee retention gets much harder.

Leaders Partner with Other Leaders – Like IMS

IMS is the leading backup, disaster recovery, and IaaS service provider for credit unions. We know how important it is for credit unions of all sizes – from Fortune 500 companies to local one-branch CUS – to safeguard your member data at all times and in all circumstances.

Browse these and other offerings here on our website or contact us today!


Benefits of a Diverse Credit Union Board of Directors

 

Diversity is something every business and governing body can benefit from. Diverse groups can offer more creative and innovative solutions, and they consider more perspectives that groups with similar members in terms of age, race, religion, education, and background may not. But what does that mean for your CU? Let’s discuss the benefits of a diverse credit union board of directors.

Your board of directors plays an integral role in creating and managing initiatives that sustain and grow your credit union as a business. Your board is also the place innovation goes to thrive – or die. That’s why diversity is even more important when it comes to creating sustainable innovation within your credit union.

The Role Diversity Plays in Creating an Innovative Board of Directors

Recently, there was an academic article that published findings directly related to the importance of diversity on boards of directors’ effectiveness and its impact on innovation. According to the study, the “systemic understanding of market trends, value chain developments, and consumer or customer needs are some of the factors that contribute” to the success of a business.

In order to maintain that understanding of market trends and change factors, it’s important that you have a wide array of voices and experiences represented on your credit union board of directors.

And in recent years, the board of directors has come to not only help guide the strategy, high-level structure, and leadership appointments in a business. It has also taken on the role of establishing structure and guidance when it comes to company culture, sustainability, and ethics.

Because innovation isn’t just one thing, it’s a hard metric to study. But the academic article we are mentioning here underscores the idea that innovation can only truly thrive as an “attribute of organizations” – a core tenant of your credit union’s business dealings – where there are many different perspectives working together to find the best solutions and growth opportunities.

Benefits of a Diverse Board

Other than driving innovation, there are many benefits to creating a diverse credit union board of directors.

First, it positively affects the community at large. Credit unions are built for serving the communities they operate in. And that means your board needs to be at least as diverse as the communities you’re serving. Every community is different. Certain communities are more blue-collar, urban, Hispanic, or Jewish, for example. Creating a board of directors that is made up of voices and perspectives that can understand the true needs of the community your credit union serves is a great way to ensure certain demographics aren’t completely alienated by the initiatives you are putting in place.

For example, in and around the town of Berne, Indiana, there is a large Amish community. So, if you are trying to reach all of the diverse communities within your region to lower the barriers to entry on your services, offering Spanish is a great start.

But your board of directors should also think about including Pennsylvania Dutch (the language spoken by many Amish communities in Indiana and the USA) as a language or interpretation option on your materials.

Initiatives like this can help create opportunities for your credit union better serve and build trust within certain marginalized groups that are looking for your products and services. And that is a core component of fostering business growth for your credit union.

Focusing on diversity can also open your board of directors up to opportunities regarding non-traditional talent. If your entire board is made up of seasoned financial advisors and other banking-specific professionals, you are likely losing out on great opportunities.

Including board members who are local small business owners, online marketers, or other strategic and operational professionals can help create more well-rounded and well-received initiatives for your credit union.

Ways to Foster Diversity in Your Board of Directors

There are many ways to foster diversity in your credit union board of directors.

One easy way is to include young professionals already involved in your credit union’s work. You will get the dual benefits of having younger voices and perspectives in the discussion, while simultaneously training the next generation of board members on the strategies and insights that are necessary to keep your credit union innovative.

In that same vein, you should be hiring people with diverse backgrounds to join your credit union staff.

You can also tweak the size of your board to be able to reflect more diverse communities. The goal should be to create a board of directors that mimics the diversity of the community you are working in. If the community is 65% white, 12% aged 65+, 38% blue-collar, or 40% Black, your board should reflect that.

Another great way to diversify your board of directors is to evaluate each member’s effectiveness and participation. Increase transparency and publicity surrounding board nominations and elections, too.

For more great resources on fostering diversity within your credit union board of directors, check out the National Credit Union Association’s (NCUA) Diversity and Inclusion page.

Diversify Your CU Board and Leave the Data Management to IMS

Unlike the complexity of creating and maintaining diversity in your credit union board of directors, products, and services, data management should be simple and cost-effective. IMS has successfully deployed solutions with simplicity for end-users while maintaining ease of installation & usage.

DataArchiver saves up to 80% of primary storage costs, and significantly reduces backup times. Our solution is scalable to manage unlimited file servers in a distributed environment with zero disruption to end-users.

Browse these and more offerings here on our website or contact us today!


How to Embrace the Future of Digital Banking

 

When we talk about the future of banking, a lot of that future is rooted in the digital transformation that will take place in the next several years. Online loan applications, cryptocurrency – these services and more will be the differentiators for success as we move through 2022 and beyond. Here’s how your credit union can embrace the future of digital banking.

What Is Digital Banking?

Digital banking used to mean your members could log into an online account to see their balances and perform funds transfers from one financial account to another. But today, digital banking has expanded so much that your members rarely – if ever – have to visit one of your physical locations to perform any financial activity that will be run through your systems.

It’s not just about convenience, digital banking is about ultra-convenience for your members. Netflix, Amazon, and social media sites use data and other digital tools to make every user’s experience highly personalized – this is becoming a standard to which all B2C businesses are expected to reach in order to maintain member satisfaction.

Embracing Embedded Banking

You don’t have to leave your house to get groceries, prescriptions, Christmas presents, dog food, or to pay your mortgage or car payments anymore – and members like it this way. That one-stop-shop website model is becoming the expectation for your members. Embedded banking may seem like a complex phrase, but it just means that your members are doing their banking without having to visit a bank or credit union website, app, or physical location.

An example of embedded banking is the presence of mortgage applications and services being promoted on real estate sites where your members are browsing available homes in their desired area. Rather than creating financial services that must be accessed separately from the need they are born from, we’ll see more and more companies partnering to allow for end-to-end transactions. You can go to a car dealership and get a loan right then and there through partnerships between the dealership and their chosen financial institution, and savvy consumers will gravitate towards that all-inclusive model because it’s more convenient.

Facial Recognition

One of the fastest-growing authorization tools for financial accounts is biometric access. This includes fingerprints and, most recently, facial recognition. 15% to 20% of US financial institutions are already using facial recognition, coupled with other best practices when it comes to multi-factor authentication, to give members access to their financial information online.

Virtual Branches

The need to “speak to a representative” will never go away. People still like talking to and connecting with real people when they give a business their patronage. Since the start of the pandemic, virtual branches have become increasingly popular as a way to bridge the gap between in-person interaction and the convenience of digital banking solutions.

Virtual branches are digital platforms that simulate the conversation that occurs in a regular branch and rely on diverse communication tools like web, mobile chat, video, co-browsing, and document or screen sharing, according to American Banker.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service: Serve Members While We Cover Your Servers

Your data, servers, and digital banking operations shouldn’t need babysitting. That’s why IMS offers configured resources that meet your unique needs through Infrastructure-as-a-Service. We tailor our program to your specification to ensure our solutions are straightforward, flexible, and pay-as-you-go so you can take advantage of premier cloud services at affordable prices.

Browse these and other offerings here on our website or contact us today!


Top 2022 Credit Union Priorities

 

We’ve previously shared some planning strategies for your credit union for 2022. Now that we’re past the holidays, the first months of the year will be dedicated to working through the best ways to address your top 2022 credit union priorities.

Resiliency was the word of the year for credit unions in 2021. In the first three quarters of the year, credit unions grew by 5 million member-owners and $230 billion in assets.

2022 Credit Union Priorities: Digital Advancement

Online offerings continue to lead the pack in terms of top 2022 credit union priorities. Your members want you to meet them where they are, without sacrificing any of the exceptional customer service credit unions are known for.

CUs overall have seen a 5.8% increase in lending year over year – another service that has expanded its online presence for many banking institutions in the last year or so. Maintaining that loan growth will largely depend on the accessibility of those loans to all members, from your regulars who come into your branches to do everything from depositing a check to take out a loan, all the way to the digital natives who want to be a member of your credit union without ever having to step foot inside your buildings.

And the rise of cryptocurrency, NFTs, and digital credentials have opened up new regulatory issues that the Federal Reserve, FDIC, and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are working on identifying potential opportunities and risks to provide legal and institutional clarity on the role of banks in transactions involving these digitally-based assets.

Cybersecurity & Data Protection

Along with this digital growth come more cyber threats. Cybersecurity and data protection must also be priorities to ensure these new assets are protected from those who wish to sell or exploit your members’ personal or financial information.

There are many tools you can add to your digital toolbox that will safeguard your data and streamline your operations including data backup, core hosting, IaaS, virtual desktop, disaster recovery, and colocation services.

Financial Inclusion & Diversity

Many programs that were affected by and molded to better combat the issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic have actually created positive financial, personal, and business results for many credit unions and their members.

Financial inclusion is the availability and equality of opportunities to access financial services. Credit unions have always focused on serving those who are not being prioritized by big banks and their offerings, so it should be no surprise that this will be a great way to expand your credit union’s influence in 2022.

The pandemic has created many unsustainable solutions to temporary but very serious problems. Moving forward with more inclusive financial education and banking services will lead to stronger and more sustainable economic growth and development, and the stability that the whole world is craving this year.

Protect Your Momentum with Digital Backups and Disaster Recovery from IMS

IMS is your partner in virtual private cloud services for your credit unions. Our digital backup and disaster recovery solutions are perfect for safeguarding your member data at all times, even when the unthinkable disaster occurs. Our team has years of experience providing data center services to credit unions all over the U.S.

Browse these and other offerings here on our website or contact us today!