Learning from the Digital Experience at Top 100 Credit Unions


Credit unions are a popular financial institution for many, yet the digital experience offered to their members can vary greatly. There are lots of insights and ways credit unions can use the digital experience at the top 100 credit unions to augment and transform their own offerings and operations.

Recently, Finalytics.ai released its 2023 Credit Union Digital Experience report, which they call the “annual deep dive into the largest credit unions in America by asset size, to analyze digital experiences across the industry.”

This report evaluates credit unions based on several items, including website, online account origination, analytics, member experience as a whole, cybersecurity, and privacy offerings. We wanted to take a look at these findings and see what trends are emerging.

In the modern-day, digital experiences are becoming a cornerstone of the financial industry. Credit unions have been taking advantage of these advancements to better serve their members. By analyzing the strategies implemented by these successful organizations, we can gain insight into how credit unions can create an effective digital experience for their members and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Let’s examine what we can learn from the digital experience of the top 100 credit unions in terms of user-friendliness, accessibility and services offered.

Overall Digital Experience Winners: Here’s How They Did It

The top 5 credit unions when it came to overall credit union digital experience, were VyStar Credit Union, Alliant Credit Union, CommunityAmerica Credit Union, Wings Financial Credit Union, and Redwood Credit Union. In general, each of these institutions enhanced their members’ digital experience by providing them with the features, aesthetics, and overall experience they preferred.

CU UX (User Experience) Needs to Be Optimized

Finalytics.ai ranks the different categories on a scale from worst to best with scores from 1 to 5. The average user experience (UX) score was 2.31 out of 5, which shows a marked need for improvement across the credit union industry.

In order to improve your own credit union’s UX, product-focused primary navigation is a must. Though this seems like a no-brainer, Finalytics.ai found that slightly more than half of the credit unions studied actually had their products listed in their primary navigation – the website menu.

Members and prospects are often coming to your website for solutions, not philosophies. While your mission and community outreach are hugely important to your brand image, your CU website should cater to those looking for product- and service-based solutions to their current problems and questions.

Think of it this way: if you opened your favorite navigation app or website and had to click through three or four tabs before you could enter in your destination address or name, you’d likely find a new navigation app, right? The same is true for your members: if they need a loan, they want to be able to navigate to your home page and see a tab that will take them to the loan types you offer, or even a digital loan application form.

The member journey should be one that is reflected in the UX of your website. It spans multiple channels, touchpoints, and sessions – this means your online presence needs to help guide them through that journey with as little friction as possible.

Personalization Matters

We’ve talked here and on our sister site’s blog about the importance of including personalization at all steps in the member journey, and the Top 100 credit unions report agrees, naming it a top growth trend.

Only 7 of the top 100 credit unions in the nation are ranking on a deeper level for personalization, and only 21 had some level of personalization included in their online presence.

Along with personalization, segmentation of credit union audiences was also lacking. Those segments (which can include different audience targets and even primary navigation that helps those looking for Business Personal, and Wealth Management insights and products) were considered “well-defined” in just 30% of the website content analyzed by Finalytics.ai.

The Role of Security in the Digital Experience

Part of a credit union’s digital transformation strategy in 2023 and beyond will need to include the way we talk about and protect our members’ data and information. In the Finalytics.ai study, they found that security and privacy content consists of two primary areas: the credit union side (what they’re doing to protect their member information) and the user side (what your members can do to protect their own information).

One way to improve this score, Finalytics.ai found, was to increase the visibility and access to information pertaining to cybersecurity and personal data and banking best practices. If your credit union doesn’t already have a dedicated and highly visible area for users to find tips, tricks, and instructions for safe ways to use your apps, website, and other mobile or online banking offerings, it’s worth the investment to create those resources for your members.

It’s also important to communicate often and stay consistent with your messages to members about the state of your cybersecurity and other digital transformation strategy items. Transparency and honesty can often close the rift for prospects: if you can show your members and potential members that your credit union is committed to offering a similar level of protection that big banks can, it goes a long way in building trust in your brand.

Keeping the Momentum Going

Trust is the key to member satisfaction, and that means being intentional and transparent with your credit union’s offerings and operations this year.

Some exciting and positive findings in the Finalytics 2023 Credit Union Digital Experience Report include growth in all of the following: loans outstanding (16.2% increase year to year), shares and deposits (up 8.1%), and net worth (10.8% growth).

Finalytics.ai also had some insights into the top digital services members value and desire the most, which include:

  • Remote deposit capture
  • Digital cards that can be issued directly to a digital wallet
  • P2P payments
  • Digital wallets
  • Cardless cash withdrawals

With all that emphasis on increasing digital access and solutions, you’ll need powerful data and security solutions, and IMS has you covered.

With our IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) solutions, you can configure resources to meet your CU needs. You can skip the pricey setup and installation of an in-house data center and trust your members’ data to our self-service, enterprise-grade cloud IaaS that was built to meet your credit union’s dynamic needs.

CU Employee Retention During the Great Resignation


The discussions surrounding employee retention in light of the recent Great Resignation call into question several core tenants of the hiring process and those who are involved in it. And while many hiring experts say the worst of the movement took place during the latter part of 2021, the lack of headlines doesn’t necessarily mean we’re out of the woods. In fact, according to Fortune, resignation numbers from May 2022 are virtually the same as they were at the end of 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic – and several other global and market-based factors – created new lenses through which many employees are viewing their current professional positions and the job openings in their preferred fields.

But what has that meant for those in the banking and financial industries? Let’s go through some of the ways the Great Resignation could be impacting your credit union, and how you can move forward with some helpful employee retention strategies.

The Great Attrition? The Great Renegotiation? The Great Realignment?

The Financial Brand shared some helpful insights about the latest developments in the labor movement. The first thing they noticed is the name – the Great Resignation – keeps getting tweaked in an attempt to accurately convey the current hiring and recruiting climate. But whether news sources are calling it the Great Renegotiation, Realignment, or some other evocative term, there’s really one central theme: businesses have a demand for specific talent, and there aren’t enough willing workers to keep up with that demand.

This dialogue may get tricky, but it’s a necessary step in the right direction for many financial institutions and could bring about substantive change in the future.

Redefining the Workplace for Employee Retention

Remote work was a necessity as little as two years ago, but the farther we get from the worst of the COVID shutdowns, the more banks and credit unions are faced with choosing what they want to define as the workplace. There’s now no way to deny that a great number of tasks can be done remotely and have been. However, many industries still value having employees come into the office or another business-centric work location.

But when about 3 out of every 5 employees across U.S. industries has looked for a job in the past 12 months, it’s a clear sign that your current employees may not think they are being served as well as they are serving their employers right now.

Action Items to Increase Employee Retention

The top survey items that current employees looking at their options are saying they would leave their current job for one that is more flexible, both in hours and in the work location. These desires are followed closely by things like more pay transparency, a greater focus on sustainability, and comprehensive DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) strategies.

When you break this list down, it’s really saying two things. First, the work-life balance that exists currently is not desirable or optimal for employees. And second, more and more people are looking for jobs with company cultures that show their commitment to fair, sustainable, and transparent business practices overall.

Employee retention amid the Great Resignation can also be boosted by evaluating your communication channels. Are your managers and leaders truly listening to the concerns of those who report to them? How many employees have brought up similar issues in strategy and engagement improvement meetings? Are your leaders conducting critical research into these issues and providing feedback or alternative solutions?

Employee trust is rising again, and that trend must continue in order to keep your best and brightest employed at your credit union. Your employees are expected to learn new technologies and techniques that will improve workflows and allow your credit union to better serve its members, but you also must look behind you. Are you providing the same experience for your staff? Can they count on you to grow and change as they need?

Competitive Hiring Practices Are a Must

From entry-level to C-Suite hiring, the current market means that your credit union will have fewer interested applicants and less time to make a great offer before your ideal candidate accepts another position. A strong offer right out of the gate shows your candidates that you are serious, and can show that your CU is willing to be direct and transparent about the compensation, benefits, and responsibilities that come with the role.

Digital Solutions Are Leading the Way

Many employees (and members) are looking for credit unions to meet them where they are. Phone conversations can oftentimes be replaced with helpful chatbots, internal and member-facing digital communication and navigation tools, and other digital solutions that cut down immensely on the frustrations your employees experience with their teams and the members they interact with.

It also often cuts down on the time these employees and members are spending on these calls trying to navigate the loan application process or work through strategic issues. Traditions are great when it comes to company culture, but antiquated communication for the sake of “keeping things the same” isn’t going to appeal to the largest portion of those who are joining the workforce today.

Top-Notch CU Technology Is Your Partner in the Employee Retention Game

We hear it all the time – these are the days when everyone wants to work smarter, not harder. And that often means leveraging technology to augment (not replace) your skilled and specialized employees wherever possible.

Private cloud services are helping credit unions all over the country create sustainable and stable options for back-end protocols and processes like data discovery, IaaS, and anomaly detection.

What can IMS help you with today?

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.

Debunking 3 More Credit Union Cloud Myths


In a previous blog post, we debunked 3 credit union cloud computing myths, and we’re here to do it again. Cloud computing has been gaining popularity for years, but the events of 2020 and 2021 have accelerated widespread adoption. And with that rapid change comes new concerns. Let’s debunk 3 more common credit union cloud myths.

Myth: The Cloud is Only Good for Backup & Disaster Recovery

This myth is a little difficult to debunk because we must omit just a single word (“only”) from the myth to make it true. Cloud computing is a secure way to back up your data, and it’s also an effective option for disaster recovery practices.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. For example, IMS’s Private Cloud Services also include:

  • Infrastructure-as-a-Service provides a safe and secure home for your servers
  • Core Hosting: IMS can manage and operate your credit union’s core system to whatever extent you need
  • Virtual Desktop provides a complete virtual workspace, a crucial element in this newly remote world.
  • Colocation Services keeps your data perpetually available by adding redundancy to your systems.    

Myth: One Cloud Will Rule Them All

There’s also a prevailing double-edged cloud myth, and it is that you either need to be extra meticulous in choosing the one cloud solution that will “do it all,” or that once you have broken the seal and start using one cloud service, you’ll end up needing dozens or hundreds of different cloud providers in order to successfully do all the things you were already achieving with your in-house or data center-based system.

Many organizations choose a multi-cloud strategy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have success with one cloud, and it also doesn’t mean that you will have to collect cloud management systems the way people collect stamps or comic books.

Myth: Cloud Data = Public Data

Another extremely common cloud myth is that once it’s in the cloud, your data is accessible to the public – as in everyone. There are tons of jokes in movie scenes about how once something is up in the cloud, you can’t get it down, and the information (no matter how private or incriminating) is now broadcast for all the world to see.

The Florida Institute of  Certified Public Accountants shared some great insight on why this notion is a myth: “There are public clouds (shared environments) and private clouds (dedicated environments.”

Public clouds like Google, for example, have multiple tenants and typically operate under pay-as-you-go models. A private cloud, however, is a single-tenant environment where all hardware and network components are dedicated to one client (or business).

Either way, there are no options where storing your information in a cloud network is akin to putting your data on a public billboard or allowing random individuals access to your credit union’s sensitive business or member-based data.

Bust Your Credit Union Cloud Myths – See the Results for Yourself

IMS offers Private Cloud Services that can help you safeguard your member data at all times, but especially when your credit union is most vulnerable. Contact IMS for more information.

3 Ways To Stay On Top Of Credit Union Technology

credit union technologyEvery time a member completes a simple transaction, chances are they won’t be thinking about all the integrations your credit union implemented for it to happen. Members aren’t thinking about how the core is integrated with applications whenever they check their account balance. They just expect their account data to be there, and for your app to work as it should. It is now your credit union’s responsibility to anticipate members’ needs and provide the specific tech solution they demand.

But how can your credit union provide these solutions if there is little awareness of available technologies?

Technology advances every single day. Staying updated on the latest available innovations not only gives your credit union a competitive edge, but it also helps you provide a wider range of member services.

Here are 3 quick and practical ways your credit union can keep up with the latest technology:

Opt In To Tech Marketing Communications

Third party technology providers usually send out marketing emails that you can subscribe to. While not every email may offer the insight or breakthrough that you’re looking for, keeping tabs on what’s new will help you stay up to date on credit union technology. Your core system provider might be offering services you could use to your advantage but you didn’t know that they were available to you and your members. It’s rare that you discover innovations if you aren’t looking for them!

Attend Industry Webinars

Tech partners often announce and hold webinars. These are low-risk and high-reward ways to educate clients and partners. Sessions typically last 30 minutes to an hour. Providers often discuss new and emerging innovations, or more effective ways to use current systems. If one of your primary goals is to optimize credit union operations, it’s crucial that you learn to use core technology to its fullest potential.

ELearning Programs And Other Online Resources

As of this writing, there are multiple credit union associations that offer helpful eLearning programs, as well as online resources provided by technology partners. These learning centers develop and share industry training and professional development to help partners improve in several areas, including operations, compliance, research, marketing and strategy.

By regularly exploring these resources, your credit union will have a better idea on which areas of knowledge you should invest more time in.

Continuous education is a critical part of being an excellent financial institution, although leadership often underestimates it. It’s easy to fall behind when it comes to tech and service offerings since they constantly improve and change. If you embrace the wealth of resources that credit union technology partners offer, you’re well on your way to staying on top of industry technology and core solutions.