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How Greater Iowa Credit Union is Tackling the Digital Revolution

Never before have credit unions confronted a more challenging competitive landscape. Digital lending and online account origination are no longer things credit unions must work toward – they’re a minimum requirement to compete and remain relevant. Consumers now demand a fast, seamless and safe experience across all channels. This digital revolution can be daunting, but at the heart of this revolution is an unprecedented opportunity for credit unions to drive growth, expand geographically, reach a much broader audience, while more effectively engaging members.

And it begins and ends with the digital member experience and recognizing this is not just the digitization of paper-based processes but the reinvention of how credit unions engage with their members and the community. To be competitive, credit unions must meet members where they are and that means providing services whenever and wherever is most convenient to the member. It’s a virtual world with 24/7 access to news, entertainment, shopping, bill payment and financial services. If your credit union isn’t providing a 24-hour, mobile-friendly, online experience, you will quickly be left behind.

Taking a People-First Approach

For Greater Iowa Credit Union (GICU), delivering an extraordinary, end-to-end experience is not a new initiative. Headquartered in Ames, Iowa, the credit union has more than $512 million in assets, 33,000 members and operates eight branches. As it has grown, GICU has remained steadfast in its commitment to operating a “people first” business. In other words, they provide relevant and meaningful financial tools and services that promote the overall financial success and well-being of not only the members, but also the communities where it operates.

“We are driven by an innovative spirit to adopt the very best practices and technologies – many of which are found at larger, ‘big name’ financial institutions,” said GICU’s Vice President of Lending, Neal Dietz. “Leveraging technology to provide our members a seamless and positive experience further builds

those strong relationships. That is the key to why we’ve been consistently ranked one of the area’s top financial institutions.”

Long before the digital transformation movement, GICU was committed to making it as easy as possible for members to do business with them, however the member chose. The credit union realized that consumer expectations were being reshaped every day by dynamic technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Apple. “Members simply expect the same fast, easy, frictionless experiences that increasingly ubiquitous tech disruptors provide.  The thought of being able to provide lights out lending to our members is very exciting,” Dietz said.

Most recently, the credit union examined its consumer lending operations, identifying areas where the process could be easier, more efficient for its members. This included a deep dive into the technology currently being used in comparison to other options available in the market. It was quickly determined that its legacy loan origination system (LOS) was not able to meet its current needs, and certainly could not support future growth. Dietz explained, “Member experience is not simply a buzz word for our credit union. I would argue that one of our most important strategies is ensuring we provide our members the tools and options needed to do business and complete transactions in whatever manner they select. Digital lending and online account origination are no longer things we must work toward – they’re a minimum requirement to compete and remain relevant.”

Single System
The credit union completed an extensive vetting process, examining 10 loan origination and account opening providers before identifying the top three providers, and ultimately selecting TCI. A key decision factor was that TCI offered a cloud-based solution, which can reduce IT involvement. Additionally, the solution is very configurable, enabling the credit union to shift as the market dictates. Dietz continued, “For the past five years, we have focused on implementing and using technology to ensure we not only operate efficiently, but also enhance the overall member experience. After carefully reviewing multiple platforms, TCI’s DecisionLender 4 (DL4) was the system that could best meet all our current objectives, and provide the flexibility needed to enable future growth.”

DL4 enables the credit union to manage both indirect and direct lending operations, as well as online account opening on one system. The system streamlines loan and account opening from application to funding, allowing GICU to process higher volumes of loans more quickly without requiring additional resources. Dietz said, “We can also add new loans types at any time, which will be extremely valuable to our staff.  Our members will now have the convenience of a single sign-on for faster login-ins, as well as increased interaction including real-time updates regarding the status of their loans.” 

Member Experience

The most innovative, tech-enabled businesses have delivered instant gratification to consumers, and they now expect it from every business. People are more likely to close an app that loads slowly, abandon a transaction if the website doesn’t remember them, or seek out more helpful and educational companies. The biggest frustrations consumers have with the borrowing process is the paperwork, the transparency of the process, and the time it takes to receive a decision, and then ultimately receive funding.  At most traditional financial institutions, the whole transaction is overwhelming, painful and slow. For GICU, Decision Lender will enable the streamlining of this experience for both its associates and its members.

Dietz said. “Implementing DL4 will give our members even more flexibility, enabling them to complete transactions when it fits their schedules. Our associates will spend less time worrying about systems and procedures, and spend more time focusing on our members’ needs, having meaningful conversations about their financial goals.”

Unfortunately, many lending relationships [especially indirect loans and mortgages] result in single-account relationships. A closed loan can help facilitate cross-sell opportunities as it provides key insights into the needs and behaviors of a consumer. The multi-channel new member onboarding process can use the data collected during the loan application process to create highly personalized offers that can be delivered instantly.

Account Opening Completes Process

GICU is also deploying the DL4 account opening module to provide 24/7 account-opening capabilities. Dietz noted that this helps streamline and complete the online process. Members are able to “save” their progress, ensuring applications can be initiated, stopped, saved and restarted from any location and any device, either in the branch or online.

With the right product integration, a credit union can embrace the digital revolution and allow members to open any available account offering and apply for new loans or refinancing from their computer, tablet or phone. Much like the Amazon’s of the world, credit unions must continue to change with the times to ensure all members’ needs are put into the forefront.

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