Marketplace Newsletter

In this issue:

Kentucky Credit Union League Partners with Clarocity and TRGroup to Offer New Valuation Solutions

Helping Members Find Their Financial Roadmap Despite Economic Turbulence

Are you ready for a new kind of holiday season?

Help Your Members During the Upcoming Tax Season

CO-OP’s Product Roadmap Expands Modern Payments Platform to Earn Primary Financial Relationships with Members

No-Tricks Overdraft Strategy

"NEW" Wireless Program

Life the Latino Way

Upcoming Webinars

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Kentucky Credit Union League Partners with Clarocity and TRGroup to Offer New Valuation Solutions 

The Kentucky Credit Union League is excited to announce a new partnership with Clarocity Valuation Services (CVS) and TRGroup. CVS is an established and recognized leader in national technology and valuation services that are backed by an exceptional member borrower experience. CVS has refined the balance of data, technology and modern valuation products and workflow to deliver credible, reliable and proven valuations and appraisals nationwide. 

With a focus on solutions that enhance the Member experience, while ensuring a Credit Union’s valuation routines adhere to regulatory guidelines, CVS will continually work with a Credit Union to offer products and services that deal with the challenges that you and your Members face today, including valuations during the pandemic. We incorporate in our partnership an emphasis on industry rules and regulatory guidelines, to ensure that your valuation routines are “right-sized” including best practices that we implement across all segments of our client base.

“We feel that Clarocity provides a suite of products and services, that when combined with their proactive methodology to support and advance valuation procedures, results in a solution that benefits our Credit Union partners and their Members”, said David Griffiths, Chief Revenue Officer for the Tennessee Credit Union League and Director of TRGroup. 

Join Us for a FREE Demo!
December 3, 2020
11:00 a.m. ET (10:00 a.m. CT) 

REGISTER 

About Clarocity
Clarocity is a valuation solutions company based in Carlsbad California, that offers data and technology, hybrid, and traditional valuation solutions to meet your valuation needs and guidelines. We focus on introducing new and alternative methodologies to “right-size” a lender's valuation routines and work with you to optimize your process, while managing your risk and compliance. Clarocity offers valuation solutions across North America and is wholly owned subsidiary of ILA.

ILA (TSX: ILA.V) is a transformational data analytics organization that provides transparency to the valuation of real estate assets. ILA is a real estate valuation platform with technologies that leverage the power of data designed to address today's dynamic real estate valuation market. Our proprietary innovative platform provides software and data licenses and technology managed services to the real estate industry, serving primarily the property lending and property tax sectors, both public and private, in the United States (“US”) and Canada. Accurate data and property valuations form the basis for our clients to value assets, fund loans, securitize portfolios and to analyze and update property tax assessments. As a fully integrated valuation technology company, we are setting new standards in real estate valuation quality and reliability. ILA is a brand built on innovation, execution, accuracy, industry expertise and forward-looking products and services.

To learn more about how Clarocity can help your Credit Union, please contact Guy Bantleman, SVP, Sales & Business Development.

About TRGroup
The Raiffeisen Group, LLC (TRGroup) is a collaboration of seven state leagues utilizing our collective strength to bring the best-of-class products and services to Credit Unions at the lowest possible cost. Our mission is to empower Credit Unions to better serve their Members, build loyalty, expand market share, realize savings on certain operational functions, and grow revenue. We are committed to providing Credit Unions with state associations where they have the greatest level of input, ownership, and control.

TRGroup was formed by the trade associations serving Credit Unions in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. Affiliated Credit Unions in those seven states boast a combined 10 million members, $100 billion in assets, 25,000 employees and almost 800 credit unions.

To learn more about how TRGroup can help your Credit Union, please contact David Griffiths, Chief Revenue Officer.

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Helping Members Find Their Financial Roadmap Despite Economic Turbulence 

In times of uncertainty, credit union members need a financial plan. 

By Robert Comfort, president of CUNA Mutual Group’s CUNA Brokerage Services Inc. 

The current turbulent economic climate has left many credit union members feeling lost. Some members are riding out the economic ups and downs of the pandemic while others are grappling with it by delaying financial planning or robbing their retirement savings to make ends meet. 

In this environment of uncertainty and financial stress, it can be tempting for credit union members and even those of us in financial advising to say, “Let’s wait until things calm down, and then we’ll get together when we know more.”

In fact, according to Kehrer Bielan Research & Consulting, traditional referrals to financial advisors were already down by 50% in the last two years, and now there continue to be challenges during the pandemic. That means that credit unions can’t wait – they need to find effective and new ways to engage members now. 

If your credit union has these concerns, it’s not alone. However, we must fight these temptations and not let concerns stop us from doing everything we can to help our members. There’s no more important time than now – in the midst of a crisis – to have a plan. Many credit unions are already adapting to the ever-changing environment. If you are not one of those credit unions, now is the time to develop an overall plan to help members navigate through the changing and complex times we are in. 

Here are a few ways credit unions can help members through the current crisis: 

Get Your Virtual Skills & Safety Procedures Up to Snuff

We don’t know how long many will be working remotely or what will change next in the current crisis. Don’t wait for “normal” to meet the needs of members – instead, adapt to make sure that you can set up meetings safely now, whether that’s in person or virtually. That means making sure the technology is in place, or safety procedures for meeting at a branch are ready, to make members feel safe and comfortable attending a meeting. 

Even if a branch is open for in-person visits, members will appreciate having an option to meet virtually whether because of safety concerns or simply not wanting to deal with traffic or travel time to come into the branch. 

We can’t just wait it out. Instead, we’ve got to be ready to meet the needs of members – those who already have a plan and those who don’t – no matter the environment and what changes we see next. 

Proactively Reach Out

It might seem counterintuitive, but now is a great time to start a financial plan. While our members’ temptation might be to hunker down and get through the crisis, we can reduce the fear and stress people are feeling and encourage better decision-making. Even in the middle of stormy seas, having a plan to reach the shore after the storm subsides can be valuable. 

Don’t shy away from proactively reaching out to members. Remind them that now is the right time to start a financial plan or to review an existing plan to see how recent events have impacted them and to determine next steps.

Studies have shown when there is a plan in place, fears and anxieties are greatly reduced. A financial plan provides a roadmap for navigating the good and bad times, so it’s important to encourage members to take advantage of this valuable service. 

Give the Guidance People Need Now

In nerve-wracking and turbulent times, it’s easy for members to react out of fear. Now is the time to remind members of some important planning tips such as: 

  • Cut back – don’t stop. If money is tight and you need cash, continue saving something even if it’s a smaller amount. It’s much easier to open the “savings” faucet more if it’s continued running rather than if it has been shut off completely. Stopping all savings should be the last resort.
  • Stick to the plan. A financial plan is meant to be a roadmap even during turbulent times. Don’t let short-term volatility cause you to make decisions you might regret later. If you are concerned about whether you are still on track, meeting with your financial professional to see if adjustments need to be made is essential.
  • Don’t cash out. Taking money out of your retirement accounts should be a last resort. Not only will you pay taxes and possible penalties on the distributions, you are taking money away from your future retirement self. If you’re having trouble making ends meet in the current crisis, speak with your financial professional about options available to help in the short-term while minimizing the negative impact on your long-term plan. 

The thought of financial planning can feel out of reach to many members who are struggling to make it through the current crisis, but it’s important to remember that financial planning is not in quarantine. We should not forget about our long-term goals while dealing with our short-term needs. It can be difficult to do both, but not impossible. 

Going through the financial planning process with a financial professional at the credit union can help members meet what can seem like conflicting goals. Don’t let your members get lost in the current climate – reach out, offer the advice and reassurance you know they need and help more members reach a brighter financial future.

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Are you ready for a new kind of holiday season?

Take a stressful year, add some holiday pressure, and what do you get?  

A cry for help! 

Fortunately, there are some simple steps that can help make the holiday season less stressful for you and your members. Below are some tips on how to take advantage of holiday shopping trends to make the most of the holidays without getting overwhelmed. 

Take advantage of online ordering

With the colder weather, experts are predicting a resurgence in coronavirus cases. Many stores are prepared. They’re encouraging people to shop online while increasing their capacity for curbside pick-ups. There are reasons to take advantage of this service that go beyond health and safety. Often provided as a free service, it can be a great way to save shopping time. Rather than gathering the items yourself, you can simply drive up and have everything placed in your car. 

Start Shopping Now

According to Business Insider, increased online ordering has shipping providers predicting a backlog this season. This can cause headaches for last minute shoppers looking to get their orders in time for holiday celebrations. Another issue mentioned by Business Insider is the fact that store inventory is lower and stock may run out fast. It also notes there are likely to be fewer deals later in the season, so shopping as early as possible can help members take advantage of more opportunities to save. 

Keep gift giving simple and practical

A still unstable economy means tight budgets for most people and more concerns about spending money. Gift cards are a simple, practical option. They are also easy to buy and send. Gift cards keep the guesswork out of what will fit within budget and the giver can enjoy knowing recipients will be able to get what they truly want or need. This is especially true of open-loop gift cards versus cards associated with a particular store. Open-loop cards also frequently offer fraud protection. 

Combine holiday activities

Just like summer vacation, winter break adds pressure to find safe entertainment options for the family. This calls for multitasking. Look for ways to get the whole family involved in holiday preparations.  Make decorating into a mini holiday party with music. Assign everyone a decorating task and hand out small prizes to all the kids in different categories like “most creative” or “fastest decorator.” Instead of shopping, making holiday gifts can be a family activity. Apps are another fun resource. Look for apps that blend entertainment like reading or games with charitable causes to help kids learn to share with others. 

While the pandemic has changed the way we do many things, we don’t have to let it steal our holiday joy. These tips can help members adapt holiday preparations to work with the current flow of daily life. You can also remind members of how credit union offerings like gift cards can help simplify their holiday shopping or even their year-round budgeting.  

LSC is here to help you support members’ financial goals and keep them informed about the products and services available to meet their needs. If you would like to learn more about our prepaid card program or other services, please contact Laura Parrish at [email protected].

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Help Your Members During the Upcoming Tax Season 

Where has the year gone? This year has been full of unprecedented events and your members are sure to have questions about how it may impact their taxes.  Love My Credit Union Rewards TurboTax program is here to help. From simple to complex taxes, TurboTax has a product for each unique tax situation. And when your members need help, real experts are standing by with unlimited advice – and they can even do their taxes from start to finish. The best part, your members are eligible to save up to $15 on TurboTax federal products the entire season.

Not enrolled in our TurboTax Program? Register for one of our upcoming webinars listed below and learn about the benefits of our program for your members and your credit union.

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 (1:00pm EST) 

We look forward to bringing value to your members this tax season!

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CO-OP’s Product Roadmap Expands Modern Payments Platform to Earn Primary Financial Relationships with Members 

Designed to Positively Impact Everyday Moments for Members Through Payments 

CO-OP Financial Services has updated its product roadmap, reflecting the company’s development of a cohesive and integrated payments and technology platform built to help credit unions become the single trusted financial partner members need. 

“CO-OP is committed to providing credit unions with the kind of insightful control and deeper engagement opportunities they need to thrive both now and well into the future,” said Bruce Dragt, Chief Product Officer for CO-OP. “We know our credit union partners often need long lead times to plan for incorporating innovations from CO-OP, which is why we are announcing products that will be generally available and available for technical release in the coming year.” 

CO-OP’s updated mix of payment solutions carries forward the strategic vision of the prior two years’ product development, while also delivering on trends brought about by the unprecedented events of 2020. Each of the solutions within the product roadmap fall under one of four focus areas for the upcoming year: 

  • Payment Activation and Usage
  • Integration
  • Data, Insights and Consultation
  • Fraud Prevention, Management and Resolution

Products in technical release are products CO-OP will be validating with a small group of beta clients. General availability signifies products that are ready for implementation by all clients. CO-OP plans to enhance the following solutions for technical release in the coming year, unless specifically indicated for general availability: 

Payment Activation and Usage

  • CO-OP Lifestyle Loyalty provides credit unions with an insights-driven member lifecycle management and communications rewards system that is personalized, configurable and tailored to member preferences, greatly incentivizing card use. (General availability.)
  • Digital Issuance enables members to receive their new or replacement digital card instantly and start using it within minutes – promoting seamless, uninterrupted card usage, whether replacing a lost or stolen card or issuing a digital card for the first time. (General availability.) 

Integration

  • Springboard Advancement. This unified credit and debit operational management solution will be advanced to give credit unions a single, integrated tool to more easily and efficiently manage the configuration of their CO-OP products and services.
  • Digital Experience Interface provides pre-configured User Interface (UI) offerings that allow for quick and easy integration of CO-OP and third-party services into member-facing channels, eliminating potential resource, bandwidth and speed-to-market barriers for credit unions. 

Data, Insights and Consultation

  • CO-OP Insights Center Advancements. CO-OP Insights Center became generally available earlier this month, while in the coming year Insights Center will be advanced to put payment portfolio analytics to work by activating credit union data through campaign management and data segmentation.
  • SmartGrowth Expansion expands the capabilities of CO-OP’s payments consulting services beyond credit to give credit unions greater access to debit card program performance analysis to boost growth for debit clients. 

Fraud Prevention, Management and Resolution

  • COOPER Fraud Score. By using machine learning to create risk-scoring models that determine the level of suspicion on card-based transactions, COOPER Fraud Score will have the ability to evaluate and scorecard authorization requests – improving accuracy in decisioning and stopping real fraud, while enabling legitimate transactions to go through. (General availability.)
  • Member Identification and Authentication. A single, integrated platform for a credit union’s ever-evolving identification and authentication needs, CO-OP’s Member Identification and Authentication platform will help mitigate and stop fraud account takeover across an expanded variety of engagement channels.

“Offering a world-class payments experience can make all the difference in establishing a primary financial relationship with members,” said Dragt. “We have invested in creating a payments ecosystem that injects elements like transparency and control, personalization and rewards, immediacy and invisibility to the otherwise mundane payments moments members engage in day-to-day. Working with CO-OP, credit unions have the tools of engagement they need to thrive in the post-pandemic era.”

For more information on products and services from CO-OP, visit https://www.co-opfs.org/Solutions.

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No-Tricks Overdraft Strategy 

Five ways to treat your members with financial peace of mind 

BY CHERYL LAWSON, EVP, COMPLIANCE REVIEW 

After living through the financial upheavals and a general sense of uncertainty over the past eight months, consumers are feeling a bit of fright—and it isn’t because Halloween is just around the corner. Dealing with ongoing financial challenges is scary for consumers who have lost their job, have seen their hours decreased or who worry about what the upcoming months may bring as they try to stay afloat financially. 

As they look for resources and advice on how to pay their bills and take care of their families, many consumers depend on overdraft protection provided by their financial institution. But just like the contrast between fresh caramel apples and last year’s trick-or-treat candy when you remove the wrapper, not all overdraft programs offer the same satisfying solution. 

Offer a mystery-free, reliable choice

With nothing to hide, a fully transparent overdraft program, that is based on fixed limits, provides members with upfront disclosures that describe how the program works and how much it costs to use the privilege. This allows an individual to make an informed choice regarding whether or not to use the service when an unexpected expense occurs that exceeds his or her account balance. At any time, the member can opt out of coverage and best of all, there are no shocking unknowns that could add to an already stressful situation. 

Plus, by addressing all of the guidance and industry regulations introduced since 2005, a fully disclosed program also provides your credit union with compliance peace of mind and other advantages, such as: 

  • a 100% compliance guarantee and advice on best practices;
  • ongoing program monitoring, including quarterly reviews and annual on-site visits;
  • extensive training to increase understanding of how the program works and its value to members;
  • in-depth account tracking, data analysis and reporting to reduce charge-offs;
  • compliance-tested messaging to simplify the communications process; and
  • access to periodic program updates and analytics to improve program management. 

Watch out for solutions that are full of tricks

On the other hand, overdraft programs that are matrix-based, with dynamic limits that are established using mysterious algorithms that change on a daily basis, do not provide on-going confidence or financial security for your members. These types of programs also can put your credit union at a potentially higher compliance risk because important information isn’t disclosed to members and the rules don’t apply to everyone equally. 

And, because the program is secretive, other concerns could haunt you and overshadow your member service quality, including:

  • members don’t know their limit, or if they even have one;
  • they can’t rely on when an item will be paid and when it will not;
  • they can’t opt out because the program is undisclosed;
  • employees can’t explain the program to members because the information is confusing and inconsistent; and
  • you could be subject to increased scrutiny of discrimination or unfair practices if the program has a disproportionate impact on some members. 

Beware of haunting practices monitored by regulators

With all of the unknowns you are dealing with amid changes in how to effectively provide service during the pandemic, it’s imperative that you maintain awareness of the issues that remain on regulators’ radar. While no new regulations on overdraft programs are currently in play, issues related to Reg E and opt-in disclosures for one-time ATM and debit transactions remain a focus. 

When steps aren’t taken to ensure that program procedures follow best practices and are properly disclosed, or financial institutions violate regulations on when fees can be charged on electronic transactions, there is a price to pay—through regulatory consent orders, fines and potential class-action lawsuits. Not to mention the reputational damage these actions can cause. 

Additionally, it’s imperative not to take for granted that your members are aware of your overdraft solution or understand how your program works. They might be wondering about it but forget to ask or feel too intimidated if they aren’t familiar with your frontline staff. 

Don’t be tricked by “plug and play” solutions

As the number of unemployment claims continues to be worrisome, some households are being impacted economically much more than others. Consumers who are facing these challenges continue to contend with many unknowns. They need the option of an overdraft solution that is easily understood and reliable—not a non-disclosed product that sends chills up their spines. 

If you’re looking for a fully compliant—no hocus pocus—approach to helping your members safely cover their occasional financial shortfalls, a transparent overdraft service will provide the most satisfactory results for your members. And a solution that provides contingency-based pricing prioritizes your success. 

Remove the mystery for total satisfaction

Does your overdraft program offer your members a transparent option when they need a financial safety net, or does it leave them in the dark? 

When members are confident that they’re getting consistent information about their account status—whether through electronic or face-to-face communication with frontline personnel—their confidence increases. When they know they can rely on the support they receive from their credit union to get them through their short-term financial needs, their satisfaction and loyalty will be revealed for all to see.

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"NEW" Wireless Program 

Last year, the average American household spent more than $1,100 on wireless service, adding up to more than $284B nationwide. Our new partnership with TracFone offers your members the same service on the same wireless networks they use right now and they can even keep their current phone, while paying a fraction of the price they pay today. 

TracFone is the largest US provider of contract-free wireless service and the new credit union discount can save members up to $360 per year on their wireless plan. Sharing this program with your members will help them with meaningful savings on a monthly expense they probably consider essential. 

Enrollment is now open and it's easy to get started

Want to learn more? Join us for an upcoming webinar:

Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020 (3:00pm EST)

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Life the Latino Way

By Edgar Hernandez, CUNA Mutual Group

Now is a good time for credit unions to take stock of their life insurance programs and ensure members understand the importance of this critical protection. 
 
If we agree that life insurance is key to financial security, then now is also a time to ask ourselves – who are we serving with this crucial protection, who are we not, and why?

According to data from our research partners at The Collage Group, 55% percent of African Americans and 54 % of white Americans own life insurance, compared to 44% of Asians and only 29 % of Hispanics. 

As we recognize the importance of life insurance, it’s also an opportunity to examine the disparity that exists in our community. Why are we reaching fewer families in this population with this crucial product, and what can we do to change that?

  • Cost: For starters, 54% of Hispanics believe life insurance is too expensive. When a panel of more than 500 consumers were asked to estimate the price of a 20-year, $250,000 term policy for a 30-year-old non-smoker, all racial groups over-estimated the actual annual premium of $157. Hispanics expected it to cost $403, more than twice as much as it actually does!   

Here’s what you can do: This data tells us we have an opportunity to educate on the affordability of life insurance – be sure to provide education to your membership and particularly your Hispanic community. 

  • Cynicism: We also see myths and potential cynicism around the product itself within the Hispanic community. Many cited a feeling of tempting fate with a protection like life insurance – the very idea that having a product related to one’s own death is negative. This misconception is real, especially among recent immigrants or older Latinos, but the myth is getting challenged by their children or grandchildren that have come to learn that life insurance is a ‘must have.’ For example, our internal data recently showed that our Latino and Black consumers, in spite of stats showing they are more likely to see a wage reduction or lose their job during this pandemic, were also less likely to let their life insurance lapse than White consumers.  

Here’s what you can do:  Be prepared to address different concerns or biases about life insurance, and perhaps share stories or testimonies as to how having this protection made other Hispanic families feel more secure.  Create educational materials in English and Spanish explaining the differences between AD&D, term and whole life. 

  • Lack of a multicultural lens: If we don’t look at data with a multicultural lens, we’ll miss these insights or disparities to begin with. We must see the uniqueness of different communities to better serve more diverse populations and fill gaps in service.  

Here’s what you can do: Look at your own membership, and the broader community you serve and ask yourself:

    • What disparities exist within coverage rates?
    • What percentage of your Hispanic members own a life insurance policy?
    • How do you have conversations about the importance of life insurance with Latino/a members?
    • Do you have bilingual staff that can create links of trust with consumers by leaning on their common heritage? 

There are many resources available – you can make use of the National Equity Atlas or the Brookings Institute to get a glimpse of your community’s demographics. And, if your CU wants guidance on how to assess your membership and the possible products that might be suitable for the Hispanic market, you can reach out to us here at CUNA Mutual Group’s Multicultural Center of Expertise. We’d be happy to share some data and/or put you in touch with some experts in this space. You can also learn more about life insurance on our website at https://www.trustage.com/.

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Upcoming Webinars

To register for any of these webinars, please go to https://www.cunamutual.com/resource-library/webinars

There are no webinars scheduled for December.

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