Sustainable Growth: Three Things Credit Unions Should Look For in a Partner

Published: May 20, 2021 by Kim Le

For credit unions of all sizes, choosing a strategic partner with the right tools, capabilities, and industry expertise to support growth while minimizing expenses is a decision critical to the bottom line. This is especially important, since the goal of achieving sustainable growth has continued to be a trending topic for credit unions since the start of the pandemic. According to this CU Times analysis of NCUA data, the fourth quarter of 2020 showed that high overhead per assets was the main factor holding down net income, and credit unions with less than $1 billion in assets fared the worst. These high overhead costs kept margins low and served to be a key contributing factor in gauging a credit union’s profitability. Overcoming this problem lies not only in improving operational efficiency, but in seeking out partners that can provide innovative insight and “right-sized,” scalable solutions to help credit unions effectively grow at a strategic pace. The less money a credit union spends earning each dollar, the more operationally efficient and resource-savvy it becomes—which in turn generates more value for both the credit union and its members.

So how can a credit union successfully assess a potential partner’s ability to help them achieve goals for sustainable growth? Asking three key questions can reveal a potential partner’s operational prowess and their ability to understand and offer the right solutions tailored for an individual credit union’s need.

Minimize Overhead with a Partner Who Can Help Accelerate and Support Sustainable Growth: Evaluation Questions to Ask

1. Does my potential partner offer solutions to ease the strain on staff, or help automate time-consuming, repetitive tasks and processes?

Automation is not only for large credit unions. Employees at credit unions with $4 billion and less in assets often wear many hats and manage the full spectrum of credit activities, leaving leaders to ponder how much time staff is spending on rote, manual tasks throughout the end-to-end member lifecycle. As a result, credit unions are turning to automated decisioning to streamline repetitive tasks and meet increasing member expectations, while also reducing risk. To drive sustainable growth, credit unions will want to look at current processes as a means of measuring efficiency. Can existing programs handle growth to scale in all areas of the business? How can digital lending automation be increased and free up more time for staff to focus attention where it is needed most, such as high-value engagements with members and delivering a personalized member experience? Can self-service tools save your credit union valuable time and increase employee satisfaction?

2. Does my potential partner have access to the right data, advanced analytics and technology to help optimize credit decisioning?

As credit unions consider different ways to minimize overhead and accelerate growth, the last few years have shown that automation, coupled with advanced analytics and technology, has taken on a second wave of focus and intense interest. A significant opportunity pertaining to automation is supporting decisioning throughout the member lifecycle, again, eliminating the need for manual processes that cannibalize time and resources.

For example, access to advanced analytics and data at the onset of account acquisition can quickly inform a lender as to whether a new account should be approved or declined. Furthermore, it also presents an opportunity to lend deeper. Credit unions can leverage expanded datasets to perform an analysis on rejected applicants and make more predictive decisions – leading to incremental loans. Additionally, lenders have identified other areas where automated decisioning could speed up processes that once required manual evaluation – from account and portfolio management, to marketing and prescreening efforts, to managing early and late-stage delinquent accounts. By leveraging a partner who can support optimizing credit decisioning with the freshest data and analytics, credit unions can routinely and consistently be sure they’re making the right offers and decisions to the right customer at the right time.

3. Does my potential partner offer digital-first strategies and solutions that help reduce friction and improve the member experience?

More and more members are interacting and engaging with their credit unions via digital channels. To meet their demands, credit unions – who have historically prioritized other initiatives over digital transformation– are quickly pivoting and rethinking their digital strategy to offer best-in-class digital banking and borrowing experiences, while also reducing friction. Part of this strategy includes smart, easy and well-designed applications that support sustainable growth simply by streamlining offers and reducing abandonment. When considering a potential partner, take into consideration their ability to assist with digital-first solutions, including:

  • Real-time income and employment verification, and fraud tools to quickly and accurately confirm important factors, including the legitimacy of members, and streamline the borrowing process with minimal friction.
  • Instant prescreen, self-service prequalification and instant credit to offer fast, easy, and convenient real-time credit decisions for members. Additionally, improving lending economics with a digital-first pre-qualification tool can not only better serve members, but also drive more apps and grow loans.
  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning and other innovative technologies to enhance underwriting and decrease both hard inquiries on applications and the need for extensive underwriter review. Prequalification tools powered by innovative technology solutions can lead to efficient use of underwriter resources and act as a filter in front of the LOS to remove unqualified applications from hard inquiries.
  • Technology that integrates with multiple lending and core systems and delivers solutions that integrate with multiple systems and channels. For example, to help improve conversion, the borrower experience can be offered a simple application that is designed to “get to offer” as fast as possible. This helps reduce abandonment. The process can be further streamlined by integrating data sources for ID verification, auto fill assistance and adding integrations with existing lending and core systems.

To learn more about Experian and how our solutions can support and grow your credit union, contact us now.

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