The Cost of Bad Data


Good data is essential for businesses, especially credit unions. But what many credit unions need to realize is that bad data can come with a hefty price tag. From decreased operational efficiency to missed opportunities to grow your business, the cost of bad data is real and often underestimated.

To help you understand these costs and how they can affect your credit union, we’ll examine the cost of bad data quality, how to identify it, and how you can prevent it from happening in the first place.

Data Quality: Why Bad Data is So Bad

We’ve featured bad data insights previously on the IMS blog in a past article about the ways bad data can harm your credit union. But the world is increasingly data-driven, and businesses are more reliant on intelligent data analytics, backups, recovery, and targeted solutions than ever before. And the amount of data being processed by financial institutions continues to grow in volume every year.

Improving data quality is a concern for businesses across all industries, and businesses in the financial sector are often under higher scrutiny than others. Because of this, keeping accurate data banks is so important for compliance items and for the reputation of your brand.

Bad Data Main Causes

You can’t escape bad data, you can only minimize it. And that means recognizing the causes of poor-quality data.

One of the most common causes is incorrect and incomplete data from members and/or employees. Miss one number in a member’s address on their loan application – that’s bad data. And that bad data can live on in a system for years if it’s not caught and corrected. Everyone knows the prevalence of the typo – in fact, if your surname isn’t one of the common ones in the USA like Smith, Johnson, or Williams, we can all but guarantee you’ve gotten one medical bill, marketing email, or other official correspondence with your name spelled wrong. Even when people are copying data or collecting information slowly and deliberately, missed keystrokes happen.

This is also true with incomplete data. There’s a reason why almost every form you fill out online has the little “*” next to items that are required, and every missed box triggers a “you missed something” notification that prevents you from even moving forward with the form submission. These are commonplace now because it’s a great and proactive way to make sure the bad data doesn’t come from someone submitting an incomplete document or request.

Bad data is also easily propagated through poorly maintained vendor and third-party files. This data is vital in helping your credit union learn more about financial trends across organizations and understand more about the current markets and business climate. But it also comes with the added knowledge that everyone stores and manages their data a bit differently.

This point leads us to another big cause of bad data – lack of standardization. Because handling and managing such massive amounts of electronic data is fairly new, especially for credit unions, there’s a lot of room for error in execution. And when your data is keeping track of people, it’s easy to create duplicate entries for the same person.

Think about it – even just one woman can be in your system several times – once with her maiden name, once with her maiden name and middle initial, once with her married name, and on and on it goes.

This Credit Union Times article goes into more detail about some of the most common causes of bad data.

The Cost of Bad Data for Your CU

Bad data management is a lot like learning how to drive a car, but never getting inside one. You can understand the value and benefits that knowing how to drive can give you, but you can’t reap any of those benefits, and if you don’t interact regularly with the car, you can’t improve your driving skills.

The same is true with data – if it’s not accessible, it’s not useful. Having all the data and not using it (or not investing in high data quality measures) is the same as not having it, in many cases.

When it comes to the monetary value of bad data costs, the figures are in the trillions, and that’s just for certain singular business ventures. Recently, IBM reported a loss of $3 billion due to bad data, and Gartner reports that poor data quality costs organizations $12.9 million on average.

And because bad data means a loss of trust in your credit union, the monetary losses are compounded by the decline in member numbers. And because banking services are necessary for nearly all facets of work and life, those members then turn to big banks and fintechs to house and store their financial and personal data. And younger generations aren’t messing around with their brand loyalty – they are more than willing to leave banks that break their trust.

Discover, Classify, Report: Positive Data Management

Bad data come in all shapes and sizes. Without a quality data management strategy, your credit union could fall

down a rabbit hole of data corruption, misplacement, and ultimately, member dissatisfaction.

To help combat bad data practices, IMS has an amazing SaaS application that uses machine learning to discover, classify, and report on sensitive data without impacting your day-to-day. We do this through our Polaris Sonar compliance technology.

With Polaris Sonar, you can use machine learning to automate processes and policies, identify exposures of sensitive data, and stay in compliance with all applicable privacy laws while mitigating the cost of bad data.

Reach out to us today to learn more about this and other IMS tools that are expertly tailored to promote higher data quality in your credit union.


4 Powerful Credit Union Brand Strategies


Having an effective brand strategy is essential for credit unions to stay competitive in the marketplace. Strong credit union brand strategies can help to differentiate your business, attract customers, and make your institution stand out from the competition.

Let’s explore some powerful credit union brand strategies that you can use to create a successful and recognizable brand. From creating a unique identity to integrating digital marketing tactics, there are numerous ways for credit unions to build a powerful brand presence.

Aim for Loyalty and Recognition

Many brands and credit union marketing strategies place too heavy an emphasis on a basic idea of “growth” they hope to achieve. And while growing your member base should be a part of your brand strategy, you also need to build out the strategies that will earn you those members month after month, year after year.

Because growth isn’t linear and you can’t expect to add members every single month, we would recommend focusing on ways to improve loyalty and brand recognition. More and more, consumers are hearing about brands from friends, family, social media marketing, and other influencers long before they are choosing to seek out a product or service.

And, for a number of personal and psychological reasons, your prospects are going to choose the brands and names they’re most familiar with. Even if they aren’t familiar with your services, a prospect is more likely to choose your service if your credit union’s name and reputation are familiar to them.

That’s why big banks can still get new members even after they’ve been embroiled in a scandal or massive data loss event.

Websites with Personal Touches

According to a recent article from CUInsight, “there is nothing that compromises a unique brand identity more than a heavy reliance on generic stock photos.”

This is a really interesting concept because there are millions of businesses across thousands of industries that are using stock photos for their websites and relying on them to create positive marketing experiences.

And that is the problem.

When someone visits your website and sees the same photo of a diverse group of people sharing an experience, a young person on their phone, and a perfectly manicured patron in the middle of a banking transaction at “your” credit union’s teller station, they can be easily bored and equate your credit union with a lazy brand redesign.

It’s also highly likely that your stock photos are being used by other banks and credit unions that are trying to appeal to the same target market that you are.

What your members and prospects want more than anything is to see the personality of your credit union brand reflected in your photos. Do you have team events? Share those on social media and your web pages. Hire a photographer for a day or two to take photos of your real staff helping real members in your real offices.

That personality and “realness” is something all consumers are craving more of. The manufactured photos of perfectly done-up models doing mundane tasks aren’t as appealing as they were 10 or 15 years ago.

Visual storytelling – through your brand images, colors, logos, and other signage and marketing strategy items – is one of the only things you can use to make sure your credit union’s brand is top-of-mind for your target audience.

Highlight Your Values

More and more, people are straying away from big box stores and looking for brands that can promote and stick to their core values.

Since credit unions are the financial institutions that most heavily rely on value and personal touch to reach their target market, this entry on our list of credit union brand strategies should feel very familiar.

Authenticity in brands is a big draw – and in a world where every interaction is scrutinized and often even recorded, people are shedding light on those brands that may have talked the talk but aren’t walking the walk.

Reach out to community leaders to see what kinds of needs your credit union could help meet in the area. And make sure to highlight when you have positive and negative interactions with your brand. Accountability is a big part of creating a believable brand reputation.

Use Your Data to Drive Brand Growth

Your target market isn’t made up of a group of undefined, mysterious people you have to try and connect with. Your target audience looks a lot like your current member base. And since you are already collecting tons of personal information, financial requests, and other data, you should be using it to inform your brand strategies.

You can use almost every one of your business operations to help inform your credit union’s brand strategies. Here are a few examples of questions to ask as you work on rebranding or even just honing your current brand to reach more prospects in a meaningful way.

When you create new product lines, what are your members resonating with? What are they disliking?

Do you have community events? What feedback are you getting from members and non-members?

Are there non-member concerns that could create opportunities for improvement and ultimately turn those non-members into members?

These and other market research questions can often already be answered with a thorough analysis of data your credit union already possesses!

Your Brand Is Only as Powerful as Your Data

One of the best credit union brand strategies is business continuity. In a world of “I want it now,” you can’t have downtime in your systems or glitches that create issues with data access. IMS is the premier backup solution and disaster recovery expert for credit unions.

You can rest assured knowing that no matter where your branches are located or what kinds of disasters and cyberattacks may come your way, you are covered with IMS and our offsite data storage and backup solutions. Reach out to us today with questions. We want to help you protect your credit union so you can better serve your members.

Data Quality for Credit Unions: Best Practices


Data quality for credit unions is an essential component of effective CU management. Keeping accurate and up-to-date records, such as member information, enables credit unions to provide the best services to their members.

To ensure data quality, it is important for credit unions to employ best practices in data handling and regularly review existing procedures.

Let’s discuss the various data quality best practices that credit unions can adopt in order to remain competitive and be prepared for future growth.

Keep Your Small Data a Priority

Many of the biggest issues credit unions and other financial institutions run into when it comes to data quality and management stem from the small data.

Addresses, zip codes, name changes – these member data items are considered minute details until they become inaccurate. Maintaining accurate addresses is a great way to ensure your credit union communications don’t get sent to the wrong people. Anyone who has sent invitations via snail mail – for weddings, anniversaries, birthday parties, and other formal events – knows that even if you are only planning to send the invitations out two or three months in advance, there will be at least one address change on your list.

Because more of your members are renting than ever before, it’s important to request periodic confirmation of names and addresses so you can make sure you are reaching as many of your members as possible in an accurate and helpful way.

One way to ensure you are capturing the most accurate information and storing it correctly is to have systematic and periodic backups of your credit union data.

Define Your Goals

There are hundreds of ways to improve data quality at your credit union. But it’s important to start your process by defining the goals you hope to achieve within this effort.

What is the main issue you are trying to solve? Do you want to be able to update data faster? Are you trying to cull unnecessary data from your systems? Organize your data so it’s more accessible?

While all of these goals are worthy of your CU’s time and resources, you have to start somewhere. Many credit unions fall into this trap where they are overwhelmed by their current data and the vastness of their spread-out systems, and they want to start with a clean slate. But you’ll want to start working through those systems in manageable chunks, which then allows you to gain some momentum as you are choosing your new data solutions and crafting a future operation plan to maintain that data quality.

Track Your Data Quality Strategy

When professionals create strategies aimed at improving data quality for credit unions, it’s important to stick to that strategy and evolve as it evolves.

There is no end to data quality work. Much like there is no moment when you can stop optimizing your cybersecurity protocols and infrastructure, your data needs are constantly evolving.

And the only way to keep track of that evolution is to create a living, breathing document that tracks your strategies and performance, and allows for internal review and feedback. Of course, your first data quality effort may be massive, in scope and in project hours. But your periodic maintenance of that new data integrity must be maintained, and the best way to do that is to track your progress even after your initial undertaking is complete.

Work in Layers

You offer your credit union members a whole host of services, from in-person classes and financial counseling to online solutions, mobile banking apps, and more.

If you look at each of your services and features, you’ll often see linear member data trends based on usage, demographics, and more. We mentioned above that working in manageable chunks is always helpful. The same is true when you are trying to improve data quality.

You can use things like gender, age, economic status, location, and more to tailor your data efforts by building a strategy that captures and stores the data you need within specific parameters. Those parameters can be based on your efforts and services, rather than just being thrown together in a massive data catch-all location, and then working backwards to pull out the specifics you need for each service or effort.

Start with Personalization

Data is how you figure out what your members’ needs, behaviors, and preferences are. You can use your member relationships to initiate and expand on the personalized experiences you want each member to have when they work with you and your team.

By creating a data-driven culture with personalization at the heart of your operations, you can tailor each interaction with your member to make it memorable and efficient, without losing any of that stellar customer service quality that credit unions are known for.

IMS – Ensuring Data Quality for Credit Unions

Data quality will continue to be a hot topic in the credit union industry as we transition more and more operations to digital locations. And in a world full of increasing data storage and consumption, you’ll want the best tools to help you archive, restore, discover, and protect your members’ precious information.

That’s why IMS has a whole host of private cloud services that were created by professionals for the credit union industry specifically, including:

Reach out to us today and let us help you learn more about data quality for credit unions. 

2023 Lending Trends for Credit Unions to Watch


The lending landscape (especially when it comes to digital lending) is constantly shifting, making it hard for credit unions to keep up. As we look ahead in 2023, there are several emerging trends within the credit union industry that credit unions should be aware of.

From new technologies to more traditional methods of attracting and retaining members, understanding the most up-to-date lending trends will help ensure the success of your credit union in 2023.

For credit unions, staying ahead of the curve can make all the difference. Understanding the 2023 lending trends is key for any credit union looking to take its lending operations to the next level.

2023 Lending Trends Landscape

According to a recent forecast from CUNA Mutual’s Trend Report, banks and credit unions should expect a “mild recession in the second half of 2023 as consumers’ excess savings dries up.”

It wouldn’t be surprising if we see the Federal Reserve raise interest rates another 50 to 75 basis points to reduce the pressures of inflation in the coming year.

There are several factors that make a recession likely this year, including these higher interest rates as well as lower prices on stocks and homes and very “satiated consumer demand for many durable goods.”

2023 Credit Union-Specific Lending Numbers

In November of 2022, that same report from CUNA Mutual stated that throughout the third quarter of that year, credit unions with assets that totaled more than $1 billion reported a 20.3% increase in loan balances, and those credit unions with assets fewer than $20 million reported a smaller loan growth (6.9%) in the same period.

The report states that overall credit union loan growth is expected to rise to 8.0% during the 2023 calendar year.

Auto Loan Trends

In the past few years, the price of used cars has risen due to the shortage of new cars coming into the consumer markets. But as that shortage shrinks and more new cars become available, used car prices will see a small decline this year, CUNA Mutual reports. This creates a great opportunity for members looking for 2023 lending trends that help them make the most of their car payments.

This fluctuation will continue at least through the rest of this year, with hopes that prices and inventory will normalize in 2024.

Home Loan Trends

When you think about the word “recession,” many of us remember the housing crisis in 2007 and 2008. During that time, many people lost equity and their homes altogether because certain mortgage lending practices ended up far overextending the loan recipients as more and more layoffs took hold around the country.

And while we will likely see a mild recession this year, the housing market isn’t nearly as unstable as it was back then. There are rising numbers of consumers and credit union members with delinquencies and unsecured loans, but even amidst these uncertainties, 52% of Americans are optimistic about their financial future in 2023.

And as younger Millennials and Gen Z continue their trend of being debit-loving, credit-averse individuals, it’s easy to see why they carry the highest levels of optimism. They work diligently to stay within their means whenever necessary, rather than extending lines of credit in hard times and struggling to decrease those debts over time.

The Rise of the Union

Amazon, Starbucks, and more – 2022 gave us a lot to consider when it comes to how Americans feel about unionization. These movements, coupled with the economic downturn, rising prices, and stagnant wages have created a perfect climate for more union efforts to take hold across industries.

Because of this, it’s important to focus on employee rights and protections as you move through 2023. There are too many open positions at your competitors and other community businesses for you to let employee relations suffer this year.

Even if you run a business in an “at will” state, there are likely several employee protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act that could affect how you manage, hire, and terminate employees in the near future.

Employee changes can directly affect the efficiency and success of your loan programs, among other things. This is why online initiatives like digital lending practices and web loan applications are becoming so popular from the credit union as employer perspective.

Data, Data, Data: Information as Investment in the Future

With rising cybercrime and distrust in institutions that hold personally identifiable information (PII), your data, both its usage and storage of it, are going to become more and more important.

Many people are sharing posts and videos about how their personal information, photos, and other data are being used without their consent based on a corporation’s terms and conditions or their privacy policy.

Because these policies are often lengthy and hard to understand, few people read them. And that gives your credit union members pause – they don’t want their personal information being used without their knowledge, and you don’t want your credit union not to be in compliance with the latest state, local, and federal edicts as well as other banking regulators regarding your business’s usage, storage, and protection of this data.

When you are thinking about your data in 2023 and beyond, we’d recommend you ask yourself the following questions.

Who has access to your members’ data? This includes third-party vendors, employees, credit union branches, and sister or partner locations.

Why do these specific people and entities have access to sensitive and member banking data?

How long do they need access to this data?

What precautions are in place to safeguard this data? This can include multi-factor authentication, levels of clearance, automatic timeouts, temporary access, retiring disparate legacy banking systems, etc.

Navigate 2023 Lending Trends and More with IaaS from IMS

Just like you can’t hop on any viral trends without a social media account, your credit union can’t navigate financial industry trends with ease or optimize lending services unless your data storage and security are in place and functioning properly.

That’s why IMS offers infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) to help you create and configure the resources you need to store and protect your data in secure, offsite servers. 

Green Finance as a Growth Opportunity for CUs

As the world grapples with climate change, we’re seeing a growing demand for green finance solutions. This is an opportunity for credit unions to capitalize on this growing market and benefit from potential growth opportunities.

By embracing green finance, credit unions can increase their profile as responsible lenders and be part of the fight against climate change. Green finance involves offering financial products that support environmental sustainability and combat climate change – such as renewable energy investments or financing eco-friendly projects.

This type of finance also has the potential to generate significant returns by investing in businesses that prioritize environmental responsibility. Credit unions can take advantage of these economic opportunities while simultaneously helping to create a greener future.

Inflation Reduction Act Spurs Green Finance in 2023

Recently, community development financial institutions (CDFIs) and minority depository institutions (MDIs) will be using provisions from the Inflation Reduction Act to expand their green lending.

This is just the latest in a number of green finance initiatives that we are likely to see grow in 2023 and beyond. But what is green finance and how can you leverage these initiatives at your credit union to create the growth you can feel good about?

The Future of Banking

As interest rates climbed and then plateaued in 2022, so does short-term profitability. But if the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that nothing is certain even in the short term.

This is where green finance makes its move.

So much of the financial forecasting we previously relied on has garnered mixed results as of late. Because of this, credit unions and banks are looking for ways to diversify their services and appeal to members who have their eyes on the future.

In McKinsey’s “Global Banking Annual Review 2022,” analysts go through some of the major factors driving banking into a “new era.” The review recommends for banks and credit unions to evolve from “more traditional business models to more future-proof platforms.”

These future-proof business models include focus areas like differentiated customer relationships, new customer access, and revenue sources, and innovation based on truly entrepreneurial endeavors. But one of the biggest ways to future-proof, according to McKinsey, is to target “environmental transformations.”

These transformations are led by the growing need for sustainable and green finance initiatives.

CU Growth & Green Lending

According to the 2022 McKinsey report, “the volume of sustainable syndicated loans, including green loans and sustainability-linked loans, totaled $683 billion in 2021, up by more than 200 percent from 2020.” The volume of sustainable bonds was up by 80% from 2020.

Financial industry changes are often valued below many other industries, and that is partially due to the net losses that are recorded by certain subsections of the industry overall. Despite all that, sustainable debt markets fared better than the overall debt markets. This upward movement is not likely to slow in the coming years, as initiatives around the globe are harnessing green finance as a way to expand sustainable initiatives.

These initiatives also help credit unions share in the investment and building of resiliency in the communities they serve. As consumer behavior and green initiatives gain traction, it also creates opportunities for credit unions to be on the front lines, supporting and financing those changes in areas that need it the most.

Why CUs Should Promote Green Lending Now

The McKinsey report goes on to talk about how the growing market for green finance also shows that few banks and credit unions have the short-term ability to finance some of the largest green initiatives that are gaining popularity including infrastructure, green hydrogen, green fuels, biomass, and carbon capture and storage.

But this creates a unique opportunity for credit unions, especially those in IRA-qualifying spaces, to start working with local community initiatives and small businesses on loans for these great green ideas.

Solar and wind power have been the topic of green finance and green lending for several years, even in areas that are not densely populated. These areas, where many credit unions thrive, will see an uptick in interest for these renewable energy resources, and that is a great opportunity to start working on offering sustainable loan packages and other programs that speak to this interest in businesses and infrastructures going green.

As more and more businesses and governments lean towards these green initiatives, it’s important that your credit union already has the infrastructure and capacity to serve this audience in the near and distant future.

Use Your CU Data to Pave the Way Forward with IMS DataArchiver

Data discovery is a great way to see what your credit union history looks like when it comes to green finance initiatives. The IMS DataArchiver is your SaaS solution for exploring rapidly growing amounts of data from on-premise storage to cloud storage and everything in between. It protects your data and also gives you helpful tools for finding specific data types with data visualization and e-discovery features. 

Essential Network Performance Metrics for the Financial Industry


Cybersecurity is a major concern for companies across all industries, especially in the financial sector. The financial industry is facing a unique set of challenges. With vast amounts of sensitive information being exchanged, organizations must take extra precautions to protect their data. To ensure that their networks are safe, financial institutions should be aware of key performance metrics.

Let’s discuss the top network performance metrics for the financial industry and why they’re important for organizations to understand.

Network Performance Metrics to Watch: Bandwidth

There are many instances when you hear phrases like “we don’t have the bandwidth for that.” Often, this conveys a sense that whatever solution or course of action you’ve proposed, the current infrastructure of your credit union can’t handle it. This is what makes bandwidth one of the essential network performance metrics for the financial industry.

Bandwidth is the term used to describe the rate of maximum data transfer in your network over a certain amount of time.

The goal is to monitor and optimize your network’s bandwidth without going over the limit.

If your favorite retail store encounters a bandwidth problem that leads to downtime on its website, it can regain the trust of customers with sales and smart marketing. But credit unions are financial institutions, something that people rely on 24/7. Downtime and bandwidth issues for you can mean the loss of lifelong members.

People want infinite and unlimited access to their financial accounts. They want faster funds transfers, instant deposits, and payment options. This doesn’t leave much room for error. In fact, it makes it more crucial for your credit union to ensure that you have the bandwidth to handle whatever may come. And in these uncertain financial times, there are so many variables that your members will look to you to plan for and protect them from.

Level of Preparedness

Level of preparedness is a network metric that helps you determine how many of the devices on your network are fully patched and up to date. This is an important metric for credit unions and other businesses in the financial sector because it can help you detect and eliminate vulnerable devices and services.

Scanning for and managing vulnerabilities can also greatly reduce security breaches and lower IT and other costs.

Security Incidents/Intrusion Attempts

How many times has an attacker gained access to your information, assets, and/or network? How many times has an attacker attempted to access these items? Those numbers tell a story.

Of course, no cybersecurity effort should be without a thorough and frequent look into security incidents and intrusion attempts. Keeping an eye on these numbers allows you to recognize vulnerability trends more quickly.

Effective network performance keeps your vulnerabilities low. This means your analysis of security incidents and intrusion attempts should yield consistent results over time. That is, your numbers will stay consistent if your IT operations continue to evolve to protect your data from the latest threats.

If your IT program isn’t keeping things secure, time is of the essence. And it saves you time to keep yourself and your credit union leadership teams apprised of the number of incidents month to month and year to year.

Packet Loss

Packet loss measures the number of data packets lost during a transfer between two destinations in your network. Packets are the tiny pieces of data that are being sent and received over digital channels. This includes everything from downloaded files to email correspondence and more. There are many things that cause packet loss from software issues to network congestion or router problems.

Here’s a helpful tutorial on how to test for and fix packet loss issues.

Unidentified Devices on Internal Networks

Though most people imagine a hacking or breach attempt as having originated from “outside the castle walls,” it’s important to remember that every employee and member who accesses your network has the ability to corrupt it.

Employees can introduce viruses and other malicious code via their personal devices and habits. This can lead to issues as you are working toward building an efficient IT network.  

Company vs. Peer Performance

A high-level KPI to watch for in the list of network performance metrics for the financial industry is company versus peer performance. An efficient IT network, especially in the financial sector, should be able to keep performance above the average level for your industry.

You can compare a range of basic network metrics, including many of the ones we listed above. There are several reporting companies that have industry averages available online for you to compare against.

This is a metric that is more important when it comes to positioning your success in the industry. In essence, you won’t need this metric to improve specific cybersecurity efforts. But you will need these comparisons to show your board members and other credit union leaders that you are aware of the industry standards and are working toward and achieving those levels at the time you report to these governing bodies.

Network Connection

Checking connection is a big performance metric for ensuring optimal network performance. This metric shows you the connectivity between all the devices, nodes, and systems in your network.

You can use this metric to find and minimize service interruptions before they cost you customers and important data or operations.

IMS uses the premier backup solution for credit unions. This allows you to keep your credit union data up to date and stored securely at an offsite IMS data center. In addition to backup and recovery, this Rubrik backup solution also includes continuous data protection, ransomware recovery, replication and disaster recovery, virtualized environments, and Windows and Unix protection.

3 Unique Challenges Small Credit Unions Face


There are just over 5,200 credit unions in the United States, as of 2021. And more than 65% of those are classified as “small credit unions.” According to the NCUA, these are credit unions that have less than $100 million in assets.

In much the same way that any small business will have vastly different challenges than corporations, conglomerates, and other big business operations, there are also unique challenges for small credit unions. Let’s talk about some of the biggest challenges and share some ideas and opportunities small credit unions can take advantage of in the near future.

Challenge #1: Growing Your Member Base

Many small credit unions are struggling to grow their member base in recent years. This is due to several factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing technology and innovation, inflation, supply chain issues, rising costs, and the rise of digital banking.

Credit unions often serve a small or specific demographic, industry, or geographic area, and that makes it hard to increase membership. But there are many ways to incorporate growth-focused solutions into your credit union’s current programs.

The first thing you can do is differentiate. We are seeing member satisfaction drop and consumer complaints increase. Larger businesses and big banks all have the same problem – there’s no human element, and they often lack that personal touch that small credit unions are known for.

You can differentiate by updating your credit union’s brand imaging, colors, or even the name of your credit union. You can also leverage community outreach, sponsorships, and member experience. Authenticity and true connections to your members will be more powerful than a catchy slogan and empty promises. Your members and prospects want real, high-quality experiences with the brands they endorse, from the clothes they wear to their subscriptions, healthcare providers, and financial institutions.

Marketing is also another powerful tool you can leverage as you work to grow your member base. Because yours is a financial institution that works to integrate itself into the communities it serves, you can often highlight real members and real problems your communities are facing. Offer discounts and complimentary services for members who are willing to share their experience with your credit union on their social pages. Create video, caption, photo, and other contests and have your members create your marketing content for you – they’ll have the chance to be highlighted (and win or earn the contest prizes) in exchange for their true and relatable stories about how your credit union helped them realize their entrepreneurial dreams, or how your community outreach efforts made for a positive holiday experience for families in the area.

Marketing can no longer be a sporadic or piecemeal effort for small credit unions. You have all the promotional power that big banks do, and you can scale the costs to work with your budget while making real progress in capturing market share.

Challenge 2: Market Share

A third way to grow that member base and capture market share is to lean into the community you have and take a chance on some of the small businesses that have been turned down by other big banks and credit unions. Small credit unions can often offer solopreneurs and side hustlers small loans and financial assistance that can help them meet their goals and grow their businesses.

If a member just barely misses being able to qualify for one of your loans, sit down with them and try to get a clearer picture of what their financial situation looks like. There are opportunities here, and having a more personal approach not only increases your loan numbers, it also creates a valuable relationship and often means the member will work even harder to ensure they can fulfill their loan requirements. Positive reinforcement is a great way to build brand image and reputation, as well.

Challenge 3: Innovation & Technology

Another big hurdle for many small credit unions is the ability to innovate and implement the latest technology. This is one of the top challenges for small credit unions because often, to get these new technology offerings, you have to pay a premium. However, as social media marketing and app development have become easy to create based on existing templates or freelance work, the playing field on this front has been all but leveled.

Now it’s up to your credit union to stay on top of the latest innovations in banking, fintech, and the like to ensure that you are offering your members the latest and greatest in financial management and digital tools.

IMS: Scalable Private Cloud Solutions for CUs of All Sizes

IMS has positioned itself as a unique cloud-based partner for credit unions of all sizes. From disaster recovery to data analytics, our Private Cloud services are tailored to CU needs. We use the latest technology and best practices to ensure your data and your members’ data are stored, backed up, and easily recovered.

We’ve made a name for ourselves in the credit union industry, and our goal is to serve your CU with the best technology and support on the market. Check out all of our private cloud services today.

Banking Trends: Digital Credit Union Services Poised to Dominate in 2023


Just as 2022 was poised to increase stability and purchasing power after a few years of pandemic-fueled volatility, we saw record highs in inflation rates, as well as ongoing labor and supply shortages.

With this potential for continued turmoil as we move into the new year, we wanted to talk about some of the banking trends we see gearing up for a big year in 2023. From multi-cloud banking to analytics and other technology upgrades, here are some of the most touted digital credit union services poised to dominate in the coming months.

Application Modernization & Repatriation

The last several years have brought about a renaissance for credit unions to suddenly have embraced more modern digital solutions and technology. The use of apps is not a new practice, but the digital credit union services that are being hosted or run through these apps may have changed drastically for your credit union since 2020.

And the theme for 2023 in digital banking trends seems to be “renewal.”

Many credit unions and financial institutions are heading back to those recent digital upgrades and auditing or augmenting them for their current member needs. Many technologies were implemented hastily, in an as-is fashion. “We’ll go back after the pandemic and improve them,” we said.

Now is that time. Are your credit union apps and other digital services optimized for 2023? There are several ways to examine this.

The first is to take a look at how many updates have been pushed through to those technologies and what those updates were for: did you improve usability? Security? Have you fixed any bugs or slow-loading pages in these online or mobile solutions? Now’s the time to take a look at what value your newly implemented technologies still hold for your members.

A 2022 report showed that 99% of financial services organizations are modernizing apps in the next year.

Another app-focused trend in regard to digital credit union services includes app repatriation. App repatriation (and cloud repatriation as a whole) is the practice of reclaiming apps (or other data and software) from a public cloud and putting it back onto local servers.

This is being done partially due to rising costs in cloud computing and software, and also because these apps perform more efficiently when hosted on local networks instead. Though there are several drivers in the move to repatriate apps, it’s continuing to gain momentum as an industry practice as we head into 2023.

Multi-Cloud Banking

As some financial institutions are moving certain data and apps out of the cloud, many others are working through the kinks that come with multi-cloud banking integration.

Data privacy and accessibility are the main drivers for the move to multi-cloud banking. With a multi-cloud approach, your credit union can benefit from vendor diversification, improved performance, and cutting-edge updates and capabilities.

According to Data Science Central, the top benefits of multi-cloud banking include:

  • Operational consistency
  • Regulatory compliance
  • Data security
  • Adaptability

Balancing Security & Performance

The importance of maintaining great cybersecurity solutions for your credit union as well as optimizing member performance can sometimes leave your CU’s leaders feeling like this is one balancing act that you can’t ever get 100% right.

As we move into the new year, digital credit union services are being audited for their security and their user-friendliness, though these two practices are often at odds with each other.

Two-factor authentication is always going to be safer than using a simple username and password, but it also makes the member experience a bit more frustrating. Straddling both worlds is tough, but digital transformation is all about creating forward momentum with the best digital solutions. In fact, one-third of decision-makers in the banking industry say they would trade some of their security for a small (less than 25%) increase in performance for member-facing technology!

Implementing low-friction tools like IMS’s backup, disaster recovery, and compliance solutions can help keep your vulnerabilities low and your members happy with their low-friction experience.

Emphasis on Analytics

If data is the key, then analytics is the house that it unlocks. There are tons of possibilities for insights and growth in each data set, depending on how you choose to arrange and analyze it.

There are tons of digital credit union services that would benefit from your own credit union’s deep dive into what your member and operations data can tell you. Big banks can often follow larger trends with ease, but your CU’s member base may have specific needs that aren’t being met – you may be literally sitting on opportunities that you haven’t discovered yet – and they’re just hidden in your data, waiting.

Advanced analytical tools can assist you with data discovery, compliance, visualization, and more. There are many data opportunities that can be turned into profitable insights, help you streamline your internal reporting, improve lending assessment processes and accuracy, and even identify more risk indicators.

You can improve your credit union’s loan performance by leveraging industry insights with the data from loans you are approving, collecting on, and rejecting.

Up Your Analytics Game for the New Year with Data Discovery from IMS

Simply possessing data doesn’t help your credit union. Your ability to analyze and interpret that data, however, can offer a comprehensive and insightful look into member behaviors, issues, and preferences.

IMS offers data discovery help through the IMS DataArchiver, a data management system delivered as a SaaS solution for your New Year’s goals. It offers on-premise and IMS cloud storage, ransomware protection, data compression and de-duplication, all within a customizable, user-friendly UI.

A new year often means new technology opportunities. What are you waiting for? Reach out to us today!

4 Ways the Great Resignation Impacts Cybersecurity Concerns


There had been a lot of talk about the impact of the Great Resignation, and much of it centers around hiring practices, salary negotiations, and employee retention and turnover. But there are residual effects stemming from these mass resignations, and some of the most important effects involve your cybersecurity operations.

Let’s talk about some of the biggest ways the Great Resignation is impacting cybersecurity concerns, and what your organization should be doing about it.

High Employee Turnover = Higher Data Loss

Data loss is always a concern after a resignation. Some of it is intentional – employees take data out of spite or even to use at their next job. But there are also many instances where data is lost simply because the former employee didn’t store the data properly – they stored it on their work computer rather than in the shared files or department-specific locations, or maybe they were using a personal device to have work conversations or store other important data.

This data can be used to sabotage a previous employer or to gain an advantage over a new employer. Workplace culture is changing, and because younger generations are tech-savvy by the time they hit middle school, your data can be shared, copied, or destroyed very easily by a disgruntled employee, or even just by a former worker who was unaware their personal computer has the only copy of certain files. Safeguarding your data and teaching your staff to use and store it in the proper place and through proper channels can help mitigate this risk.

Because of these increased data cybersecurity concerns, your credit union should be using the best data access practices. The primary component of these practices should be reviewing the access your current and former employees have or had and making sure they only have necessary access moving forward.

When you do this, think about how each employee’s role and responsibilities have changed during their time at your credit union. Maybe they needed a higher level of access to member account details when they were in more of a customer service role, but now that they are running your marketing campaigns, that access is no longer necessary.

The Cybersecurity Industry Isn’t Immune to the Great Resignation

Another reason the Great Resignation is creating cybersecurity concerns is that the cybersecurity industry is also affected by these mass exoduses. Many cybersecurity professionals have also left their positions in the last few years.

Being short-staffed in the IT department also puts your credit union at risk of attack. Things can fall through the cracks; your former employees could negatively impact your system (either intentionally or unintentionally).

Because the stress of the pandemic affected certain professional roles and industries, like cybersecurity, at a higher rate, many employees are leaving the field. And when hundreds or even thousands of IT professionals leave the industry, it increases the threat to businesses from outside sources that are also aware of the shortages.

This decrease in cybersecurity team numbers also means your response to threats will likely be slower and less effective. No operations run as smoothly or efficiently when you are missing team members. That’s why it’s important to start thinking about how you want to invest your credit union’s IT budget – IMS has a host of services that can fill in the gaps left by employees resigning.

Remote Work Increases Risks

Remote work is more common than ever before, and that means more cybersecurity risk for your credit union.

While it may be nice not to have the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining a remote worker’s devices, that also means you can’t control where or how your data is stored and used, especially once that employee has resigned.

Remote workers are also working from a variety of different servers and networks – home, local coffee shops or libraries, etc. And this means your data and systems are being exposed to more varied risks. You also can’t control the security parameters on these employees’ home networks in the same way that you can monitor and improve your in-house network and servers.

Gaps between Employees and Tech

More and more organizations are increasing their IT and cybersecurity budgets, and this has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic and the Great Resignation. Now is the time to create the structure and strategy that we didn’t have time for during the first days of the pandemic.

When your credit union evaluates its cybersecurity spending, it’s important to ensure that your technology purchases are compatible with your workforce.

You can implement the newest and best technology in the world, but if you don’t do so with a strategy and a timeline in place to help you and your employees work through the transitions successfully, you are wasting valuable resources.

Process management should be a priority when implementing new technology, especially amid mounting cybersecurity concerns. Your staff needs to know how and when to use these new tools, so they aren’t creating new gaps in your digital defenses.

Offload Some Data Security Expenses by Partnering with IMS and Its IaaS Solutions

Maintaining high-level success in your credit union’s business operations during a time of high turnover and increasing employee recruiting and retention expenses mean you will need to decrease your costs elsewhere.

That’s where IMS comes in. With our Infrastructure-as-a-Service package, you can pay as you go and create a customized service that includes:

  • Maintained access to your applications during disasters and outages
  • Decrease expenses by only paying for what you need
  • Free up your team to focus on expansion, or employee recruitment and retention
  • Leave the troubleshooting and software upgrading to IMS and increase your credit union’s stability, reliability, and supportability
  • Improved peace of mind – IMS has you covered, through any cybersecurity issues and all your employee changes

Growth-Driven Marketing Ideas for CUs in 2022


There are dozens of reasons credit unions run marketing campaigns. Your board of directors could be having you focus on increasing current member engagement, introducing new products or services, and overall growth.

Many credit unions are focusing on a growth-driven marketing track as we move through 2022. Now that businesses, suppliers, and global economies are slowly recovering as we get further and further from the worst days of the coronavirus pandemic, we can focus on recouping some of that growth and expansion time that we lost over the last two years.

In that spirit, our team here at IMS wanted to share some growth-driven marketing ideas and strategies for credit unions to use before the year is up.

Break Down Silos & Create a Holistic Marketing Strategy

In a recent episode of the CUNA News Podcast, James Gilbert shared his thoughts on the importance of using your data and assets to create a unified front when it comes to growth-driven marketing strategies.

When it comes to creating a marketing strategy, many credit unions use a top-down approach, where the board of directors or executive staff share their plans and goals. While this is a great start, certain initiatives will take priority over others, and that means the resources used to successfully market your credit union will be divided unevenly.

This is a good thing! If you are focusing your credit union marketing on increasing the number of loans, there should be efforts from other sectors within your CU that are also supporting that. Your social media and credit card usage personnel will need to create cohesive messaging that speaks to your current goals.

In a perfect world, growth happens across all channels – you increase the number of members, loans, credit cards, savings accounts, etc. all at once. But because trends in personal financial management change rapidly, your marketing strategy must account for those things too.

Embracing Omnichannel Solutions

In today’s vastly connected digital landscape, omnichannel communication is crucial to your growth-driven marketing.

Omnichannel marketing means your credit union brand is reaching members and prospects through multiple communication channels, which can include text, social media, phone calls, email, print ads, and video assets.

Giving your members access to you via multiple touchpoints can help you reach a more diverse crowd – they’ll feel comfortable using their preferred methods to interact with your brand, rather than having to go out of their way to download new apps or create new user accounts on separate platforms to enjoy your content and services.

Focus on Personalization

Today, consumers – whether they’re shopping for a pair of shoes or a new home – are looking for solutions that fit them – personalization is a great way to take your credit union marketing to the next level and reach more people.

Think of marketing your credit union the way you’d market a home – every home has unique offerings, and every buyer is looking for certain features in the home they want to purchase.

The same is true in any B2C relationship – your credit union has to show each member that you are here to solve their specific problems and offer personalized products, services, and assistance.

Personalization can also be automated – you can create campaigns just for those members who are looking for a car loan, or who recently opened a checking account or signed up for your credit card. Rather than a generic “Thanks for doing business with us!” message, you can tailor print materials, emails, and chat messages to include specific details and insights about where they are in their personal financial journey.

Cross-Promotion, Not Cross-Posting

Your credit union marketing might include a host of different platforms, tools, and social media accounts. And each of these platforms should be seen as unique, just like your members are unique. When your members log onto their social media accounts and apps, they have different goals with each one.

And your growth-driven marketing campaigns should take this into account. Cross-promotion is the act of taking similar marketing content or messages and tailoring them to the platform you are featuring them on. Many credit unions and other businesses make the mistake of posting the exact same things across all their public platforms – this is called cross-posting.

And while cross-posting does get your brand out there and on people’s feeds, it’s not serving each platform effectively.

An in-depth LinkedIn post about how to prevent credit card fraud, for example, should be created with a much different message than an Instagram or Twitter post. Though this seems like it should be common knowledge, social media marketing is time-consuming, and it will often feel easier to create one message and one graphic, and then share them across your CU’s accounts.

But if your credit union marketing strategies are aimed toward member growth, cross-promotion can make each post on each platform that much more powerful!

As Your CU Grows, So Does Your Data – IMS Data Discovery Solutions Can Help

With credit union growth comes the growth of your data as well. But storage is only half the battle because the data you collected has significant value. It can help you understand your members and your business operations more comprehensively.

Many growth-driven marketing strategies rely on data and analytics to create targeted campaigns intended to reach the best audience for your business while offering your members and prospects content that they view as valuable.

The IMS DataArchiver is a great tool for managing and storing your data efficiently without breaking the bank. This SaaS solution can save up to 80% of primary data storage costs while still protecting your data from ransomware and other threats, giving you built-in data comprehension, deduplication, and visualization tools.

Anyone at your credit union may access the DataArchiver through a secure portal that includes full-text search capabilities, audit trails, and more.

Use your data and IMS’s private cloud solutions to work smarter, not harder this year.