3 Reasons Financial Education is More Important Post-Pandemic

2020 began with some devastating financial blows, and many bank accounts have yet to recover. We wanted to take a moment to share some reasons why financial education is so important right now.

COVID and the Lack of Financial Literacy

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected more than just our physical health – it has impacted our financial health as well. And unfortunately, many people who were the most financially unstable also took the biggest hits when the shelter in place orders and other layoffs started.

89% of Americans believe that a lack of financial education “contributes to bigger social issues in America, including poverty, lack of job opportunities, and wealth inequality,” according to an article from Fortune.

Credit unions are some of the top institutions that provide low-cost or no-cost financial education to their members, and right now is a perfect time to expand those offerings.

Reasons Why Financial Education is Important, Especially Now

Financial education is not just for kids, though it is always a great idea to start educating young people about the importance of financial health and stability. Everyone, no matter your age, race, gender, or financial background, can benefit from this education.

Your Financial Needs Change as You Age

Financial literacy and education can be more than just learning how to balance a checkbook or create a household budget – it can help students become more aware of the benefits of the FAFSA and other grants and loans with low or zero percent interest rates.

It can teach young adults about the importance and impact of credit and debit card use, or help middle-aged citizens start planning for retirement.

Planning for Disaster is Better than Just Reacting to It

Credit union members, no matter how frugal, were likely not prepared for a majority of 2020 to be spent surviving and reacting to a pandemic, where job loss and economic downturn were rampant.

Financial education is like the Disaster Preparedness lesson you sat through as a kid when your instructor told you to go home and make a plan with your family for surviving common disasters like floods, thunderstorms, and power outages. No one wants to look for flashlights when the lights go out, you want to know where they are.

The same is true with finances: half of all Americans report they would “feel financial hardship if they had to cover an emergency expense of $1,000 or less in the next 30 days,” according to a Charles Schwab Financial Literacy Survey.

The $1,200 federal stimulus checks are long gone for the majority of Americans, and what we thought would be a blip in our year has now become months of unemployment and reduced work hours, and more and more families are facing tough financial decisions as the holidays approach.

Financial Education Helps Younger Generations Move Upward, Out of Poverty

Those who are born into financial stability or excess likely won’t see a drastic change in their investment income and stability by employing tactics learned through financial education courses, but those individuals who are raised in lower economic classes can.

This means those individuals and families who are struggling the most can benefit the most and improve their financial health the quickest when they have access to financial education at a younger age.

Credit Unions Need Help, Too

IMS is your home for virtual private cloud services. If you are interested in enhancing member experience with core hosting, virtual desktop, and disaster recovery tools, contact us today.


Improve Your Credit Union Member Experience

 

Almost 40% of credit union members with adult children do not want their children to have an account at the same credit union to which they belong, according to an August article from CUToday. But rather than dwelling on the negatives, now is a great time to see this as an opportunity to improve member experience and reclaim these potential accounts. So how do you improve your credit union member experience? We’ve pulled some great insights from a handful of resources to help you make your credit union more member-centric.

Eliminate Physical Location Requirements

In the same CUToday article, one of the main reasons adult children of credit union members leave is obvious: they moved away. As credit unions try to close the gap between what they can offer and what national banks already do, digital banking software, websites, and apps can entice members’ children to continue banking at their hometown credit union.

Offer a Family Plan

Another interesting and untapped idea is incentives for families that bank together. Starting dialogue within families could be a valuable addition to your CU’s educational and financial offerings.

If cell phones, and streaming services, and music apps create family plans to cater to members, why not try it at your friendly, neighborhood credit union?

Create a Customer Experience Management Strategy

It’s easy for managers to delegate the fostering of customer service excellence to those employees with direct customer contact. But the customer experience, especially in this digital age, is not just about having a helpful and friendly teller at the counter or drive-thru window.

There are dozens of touchpoints that your customers will experience without ever interacting with a human. When building new pathways and digital solutions, always put yourself in the mind of that customer. If you are developing an app, ask employees with tech skills similar to those of your members to test the new process. Ask them what they liked, and what they didn’t.

You can also foster the same feedback from your members after the new tech has been offered to them. Ask those using it how they feel, and even more importantly, ask those who are not using it why they haven’t.

Show Empathy for This Year’s Unique Struggles

COVID-19, at its core, has been a master class in disaster planning and recovery strategy. And with the effects of the pandemic being projected to stick around for the next year or two (depending on your source), now is the time to pull out all the stops.

Your members are stressed, and confused. Many are worried about their financial situations. You could create new or modified programs to combat these new worries. Add education about government financial support, or reach out to prospects by differentiating yourself as an advocate for their financial stability and success.

Stay on top of new government, legal, and regulatory mandates to show your members that you are in their corner, always. On a larger scale, modifying your core system to incorporate new fee waiving protocols and other relief packages are fast becoming essential.

IMS Can Enhance Member Experience

IMS is your home for virtual private cloud services.

Contact us to find out how you can enhance member experience with our core hosting, virtual desktop, and disaster recovery tools.


Why Having the Right Core System Is Important

 

2020 does not look like anyone could have ever imagined, and having the right core system for your credit union is paramount. Innovation, rapid adoption of digital solutions, and finding ways to keep our customers without allowing them to visit brick-and-mortar locations as they have always done are just a few of the huge pivots the year has brought us so far.

Your core system is the foundation by which you serve your loyal customers and your community. Is it time to consider changing or upgrading it?

Areas for Growth

With the need for digital solutions at an all-time high, credit unions are faced with the need to update their online offerings. As a whole, credit unions serve smaller communities and customer bases than many banks, but the personal service and helpful staff are what sets them apart.

Since the in-person visits are lower than ever and many employees are working from home, offering web portals and apps for doing credit union business in a safe and socially distant manner will potentially create an influx of new, younger clientele.

Your Core System

The Credit Union Journal  reports that “more than 20% of members surveyed expect a permanent decrease in the frequency of their branch visits once post-COVID-19 life begins.” As we shift and adapt to this new normal, perhaps it’s also time to see what technologies your credit union employs, and how they could be optimized to better serve you and your customers.

Many credit unions have a historically well-rated core system, but that doesn’t mean the standard core system from years ago is still the best option. In a world full of technology solutions, flexibility and customization rule the day. And while change is hard, the last few months have proven that when push comes to shove, a business can adapt rapidly.

Core systems have all the power that a large corporation needs to run its business for decades. But what happens when a smaller institution using that same core system runs into problems? These smaller businesses, like credit unions, don’t have the resources or manpower to justify having a team of people available to monitor and fix these systems. As with hiring, payroll, and other departments, credit unions have to streamline their business to offer the same valuable services at a fraction of the scale.

Opportunities

Your core system is the lifeblood of your business. And when it’s implemented correctly, it saves your credit union time and money by taking some of the tedium out of your employee’s hands so they can focus on serving your customers. In these uncertain times, analyzing your core system could help keep costs down and streamline processes that are difficult to perform with some or most of your workforce conducting business from home.

Core Hosting with IMS

IMS offers core hosting. If your credit union is considering a core move, let us share how we can save you significantly and provide peace of mind knowing you have industry experts maintaining and managing your most valuable assets.

Contact us to see what solutions we can create for your credit union.


Connecting Credit Unions With the Millennial Market

In our early October 2018 newsletter, we shared with readers that nearly 75% of millennials (also known as Generation Y) are unaware that credit unions are not-for-profit, member-owned financial institutions. According to the US Census Bureau, there are more than 83.1 million millennials in the US – who are comprised of those born between the years of 1982 and 2000. Armed with this information and a handy calculator, we can determine that there are roughly 63 million young adults in the United States who don’t understand what a credit union is – meaning they don’t understand the benefits and upsides of conducting their financial business with one.

Understanding the “Why?” Behind the “Who?”

Before credit unions can connect with the millennial demographic, time and consideration must be placed on the expectations – and behaviors – of this particular generation. Gallup released an analytical report specifically geared towards the relationship between millennials and banks. There are acredit unions millennials few facts that stand out in the report.

  • Millennials in the US have the lowest percentage of customer engagement with their primary retail banking institution – roughly only 30%.
  • Gen Y consumers are the least likely demographic to physically visit a branch, mot the most likely to utilize online and mobile banking.
  • Millennials are the most likely to experience a problem or have a bad experience, but the least likely to actually report the issue.
  • In fact, millennials are the most likely demographic to switch banking institutions, at a rate of 8.4%, compared to second-place baby boomers at 3.6%.

Getting Ahead of the Game

There are some credit unions, however, that have recognized the opportunity to connect with this particular generation, and they have done their homework on what turns a millennial prospect into a loyal and long-term credit union member.

There are three major components that these forward-thinking credit unions all took time to understand, in order to be able to attract the attention of millennial consumers and lure them away from the big banks. Instead of painting with a broad stroke, some credit unions focused on what was most important to the millennial generation.

Trust and Relationship Building

The results from the Millennial Disruption Study (MDI) revealed that 71% of millennials would “rather go to the dentist than listen to what their banks are saying”. It’s estimated that 92% of this generation have no trust in banks or financial institutions, and that the financial well-being of customers is not a priority to banking institutions.

While millennials are the first true digital generation, they feel the need to work with businesses who share the same values that they do. The challenge here is creating a meaningful and honest dialogue with a customer base that prefers mobile interaction and accessibility.

catering to millennial bankersUnderstanding and Embracing the “Experience Economy”

The millennial generation isn’t overly concerned with “things”. Rather, this particular generation is focused on experiences; concerts, sporting events, getaways, or two weeks traveling by train instead of buying a car. In a nutshell, millennials are interested in making memories and not acquiring “things”. Touting the benefits – and dividends – offered by niche-specific savings accounts, such as vacation clubs.

Using incentives that will help millennial members participate in experiences, as opposed to tangible gifts and giveaways, can show potential members that your credit union understands the needs and wants of this particular generation, and are working to offer services and products that cater to their specific needs.

Transparency and Genuine Concern

Millennial consumers are inherently suspicious of the motives and “fine print” associated with larger corporations and financial institutions. 53% don’t feel that their bank offers anything different or better than any other bank. Credit Unions need to change this misconception through open, honest communication and a genuine concern for the well-being and personal data protection and safety of the membership.

Offering and marketing your member-facing applications and services is paramount in attracting and retaining a millennial membership. IMS is proud to specialize in providing these solutions to credit unions, and include the following customized and scalable solutions for credit unions nationwide:

eStatements and eNotices

Not only does digital communication reinforce a commitment to the environment, it saves money in costs associated with paper, printing and postage.

Online Loan Applications

IMS can assist your credit union in creating easily accessible online applications that offer immediate answers for members.

Opening an Account Online

Allow users the ability to instantly and easily open an account online, continuing the simple process into online account management, loan applications, and more; seamlessly, across all devices.

Maximizing the Millennial Market Potential

While credit unions are working daily to attract, retain, and build relationships with millennial members, there are some basic features being seen across that board that are of particular interest to the millennial generation, including:

  • free classes and workshops designed to target millennial homebuyers, entrepreneurs, and young adults interesting in building or repairing credit;
  • reliable and intuitive tech options for members, including online banking, remote deposits, and paperless statements; and
  • eliminating fees, or providing a set number of instances per year when fees won’t be charged.

Let your potential members know that by joining, they are part of the ownership. Decisions made by credit unions are in the best interests of the owners, and the owners are the members. Eliminate fine print, and be open and forthcoming. In turn, you will build trust that can turn into long-term loyalty.

The Bottom Line

Offering products, services, and relationships that are important to the millennial generation will create a strong and loyal membership. Find out what those products, services, and relationships need to consist of, and your millennial membership will thrive! Contact IMS today to discuss the customized solutions that we offer to credit unions, and the ways in which we can help your institution!

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Why Credit Union Employees and Officers are Scam Targets

 

Business Email Compromise Scams (BEC) are hitting financial institutions hard, and the threat only seems to be increasing. CEOs, CFOs, and financial employees are at a high risk of being targeted in BEC schemes, regardless of company size.  Whether a small, community credit union or a multi-million dollar financial institution, these targeted schemes are impacting the bottom line for businesses across the globe – and here is what they all have in common: the targeted business must work with foreign suppliers and/or utilize wire transfer payments regularly.

What is a BEC Scam?

Also known as CEO fraud, and more generically phishing, a BEC scam isn’t carried out until the attacker(s) have done their research, ensuring a more favorable outcome. The criminals first choose a business to target and will then do online research via social media channels to locate the exact, accurate names of the CEO and CFO, finally targeting an employee — usually one that works in the finance department, company attorney, long-time company vendor, or client — to carry out the attack against.

Once a target has been selected, the criminals then send fraudulent email correspondence usually impersonating the CEO or CFO of the target company, attempting to fool the victim into initiating a wire transfer.

If successful, the BEC attack will result in gaining access to the target’s business systems and records, including employee credentials, and the possibility of an enormous financial loss for the target company.

How Can these Scams be Effective?

While it may seem like common sense may be all that’s required to avoid BEC and phishing scams, the criminals are quite savvy in determining what to say or do, in order to obtain the desired action from the target. These criminals are educated, intelligent, and have spent countless hours planning these attacks. According to the experts at FraudWatchInternational.com, there are several ways in which the criminals will create a feeling of legitimacy in these efforts, including:

  • Spoofing of legitimate email addresses;
  • Writing in an urgent tone, asking the victim for the funds to be transferred immediately;
  • Writing that “they” (the CEO or CFO) are in a meeting and cannot be disturbed with emails, texts or phone calls;
  • Giving the idea that that the sender of the email is using a mobile device to create and send the email, by including the signature “Sent from my iPad”, instead of the standard corporate email signature. This is one of the most effective methods, as the normal “red flags” (typos, poor grammar, lack of corporate signature), because mobile devices are often “excused” from triggering them.

BEC Scam Facts

Keeping a close watch on cybercrime – particularly BEC scams – the FBI compiled the following statistics, as reported from 2016:

  • BEC scams have occurred in every U.S. state, and in a minimum of 80 countries;
  • More than 17,000 people were victims of BEC scams from From October 2013 to February 2016, with losses exceeding $2 billion USD;
  • There has been a 270 percent increase in exposed losses and identified victims of BEC scams since January 2015.

Minimize Your Risk Through Education

Educate employees about the various ways in which criminals target financial institutions and their workforces will add an extra layer of protection. Be sure to:

  • provide employees with proper, accurate and thorough training about targeted cybercrime, and ways to validate the legitimacy of correspondence.
  • require careful monitoring of email addresses, to help avoid spoofing attempts.
  • stress the importance of questioning anything suspicious. Regardless of the instruction received in email, encourage employees to ensure the validity of the request through contact with the implied sender, or his/her designated representative
  • utilize two-factor or multi-level authentication procedures for every wire transfer, regardless of situation or circumstance.

At IMS, we sincerely care about the protection and privacy of your data, employees, and members. We work with credit unions nationwide, to assist in minimizing risks and maintaining the safety of your data. If you would like to discuss how we can help protect you against financial cybercrime, contact us today or complete the form below!

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October 18th is International Credit Union Day!

#ICUDay | October 18, 2018

To the more than 7,000 credit unions across the United States, IMS would like to be the first to wish you a Happy International Credit Union Day! We know it’s not until October 18th, but we wanted to share some ideas we’ve dug up to help credit unions celebrate THEIR day of recognition.

Below is the official video that has been released for #ICUDay, with the theme “Find Your Platinum Lining in Credit Unions“. You can share this with your workforce and members, to remind them of the many great things brought about by the credit union movement.


#ICUDay Celebration Ideas

Get Social!

This year, the official hashtag for International Credit Union Day is #ICUDay. Utilize this hashtag when:

  • taking group photos of employees and colleagues.
  • posting the events you have scheduled for your celebration.
  • sharing posts from other credit unions, reinforcing that they all work together to make the credit union community a strong and positive one.
  • using a “photo frame” like the one below, where members and employees can upload their photos to different social channels.
International Credit Union Day 2018

Have a Weeklong Celebration

Choose a different theme each day of the week, such as:

  • Member Appreciation Day
  • Credit Union Open House
  • Community Spirit Day

Offer refreshments and open dialogue, inviting not just current members, but those who may not know the benefits of being a CU member. Consider having music provided by students from local schools, to further increase interest and foot traffic to your location.

Get Involved in the Community

While not just for #ICUDay, launching a community service initiative is a great way to kick off your celebration. There are many ways to get involved in the community, such as:

  • Planning a community cleanup effort
  • Sponsoring a “Dress for Success” event, where your location can be a drop-off for donated business clothes that will be provided to those in need
  • Partnering with a local community service effort, such as Habitat for Humanity or Meals on Wheels, and allow employees to volunteer and assist with efforts

Educate Potential Members

Many people are simply unaware of the benefits and privileges of being a credit union member. Use #ICUDay as a method to share information about those benefits, in ways like:

  • Going to local schools to speak to the young students of the community about the benefits of saving, and how a credit union can help;
  • Sponsoring an art or essay writing contest to the young students, showcasing the perks of being a credit union member;
  • Scheduling an informal seminar series, where current and prospective members can learn about specific topics such as personal and business loans, savings, or the ways in which credit unions can help small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Facts About Credit Unions You May Not Know

As the 70th Annual International Credit Union Day approaches we thought we’d share some information that just might surprise you. These are great bits of information to share with those considering joining a CU, but unfamiliar with how a credit union works.

  • Credit unions offer everything from checking and savings accounts, to auto and mortgage loans, to insurance and investment opportunities.
  • Credit unions are co-ops. Each credit union member owns a share in the institution, and they are represented by a board of volunteers.
  • 73% of millennials do not know that credit unions are not-for-profit, member-owned financial institutions.
  • Once you are a member of a credit union, you can remain a member for life; even if you no longer have the original membership qualifications. “Once a member, always a member.”
  • Contrary to some perceptions of the name, credit unions have nothing to do with credit reports and scores and are not affiliated with a labor union.
  • 72% of the nation’s larger credit unions offer free checking accounts, compared with only 38% of the nation’s largest banking institutions.

The Credit Union National Association also has some great resources and ideas to help you make #ICUDay a special one for your credit union, so have a look!

IMS is a proud supporter and service provider to credit unions across the country. We’ve combined our top-notch customer service with a suite of specialized products and services focusing on the needs of credit unions across that U.S., including:

  • disaster recovery
  • private cloud backup and hosting
  • custom programming and integration
  • e-statements and e-notices

and so much more!

At IMS, our primary goal is to become your trusted credit union service provider. If you would like to know more about how IMS can help your credit union, contact us today.

Happy International Credit Union Day, from all of us at IMS!