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LAFCU Leading the Way in COVID-19 Member Assistance

Los Angeles Federal Credit Union (LAFCU) is at the forefront of member hardship assistance programs designed to financially help their members during the COVID-19 pandemic. The success of these programs was helped by the automation and risk mitigation efforts of Art Sookazian, LAFCU’s Vice President of Collections and Risk Management. Art teamed up with the credit union’s Information Technology team to overhaul many processes while creating automation to maximize efficiencies and improve member experience. 

 Some of the items implemented included: 

• Skip-A-Pay & extension programs were designed to integrate with the credit union’s Symitar core & the statement processor.  

• Mass email blasts that informed members how they could be helped.

• Leveraging automation in multi-factor skip criteria with quick turnaround from a member experience.

• Frontline employees assisted members with on-demand skips and extension processing that prevented more than $10 million in loan losses while enhancing member loyalty. 

• Collections strategy and moratorium on repossessions.

• Hardship options beyond skips, organized on an online blog.

• Portfolio Review strategy to enhance by quarterly updates and auto valuation to be added with hardship indicators to help capture risk impacted loans – Q&E factors related to COVID.

• Sophistication to prevent Economic Impact Payments from being swept in accordance with Executive Order.

• Being strategic in the approach to loss migration.

• Trend analysis.

• Portfolio risk management.

• Tracking tools were already implemented & only needed to be adjusted during the COVID-19 crisis.

Skip offers had 60% open rates, while 90% of the transactions took place on mobile devices, all through automation. LAFCU helped capture the audience most in need, without requiring members to visit a branch or pick up a phone.  Prior to the pandemic, the skip penetration rates dramatically increased after programs were enhanced, proving that the program’s efficiency and integration were well utilized by the eager member base.  

When LAFCU’s members encountered significant financial challenges due to COVID-19, the existing programs lifted penetration easily by 300%.  In addition, Art, along with the executive management, strategically created a self-service Emergency Relief Blog ( This blog is accessed from the credit union’s website where members can explore financial hardship solutions then select an option that leads to an automated application process.  While this allowed for tracking of trending statistics on this segment of their portfolios, LAFCU was able to maintain a strong commitment to its mission of “people helping people.”  

As president and founder of the National Credit Union Collection Alliance, Art’s commitment to the credit union movement is regularly shared with a nationwide network of hundreds of participating credit unions.  Their dedication to development and creation of innovative cutting-edge technology and processes raises the bar for industry best practices for automation through robust collection and risk strategies.

Anyone who lives in Southern California can join LAFCU and take advantage of their financial services. For details, visit, call (877) MY LAFCU (695-2328), or stop by one of their branches. 

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