Alkami Technology, Inc. (Nasdaq: ALKT) (“Alkami”), a leading cloud-based digital banking solutions provider for financial institutions in the U.S., today launched the Alkami Digital Sales & Service Maturity Model, based on research conducted across 215 US financial institutions with at least $200 million in assets and completed in December of 2023. The study, developed by Alkami in partnership with financial services influencer Jim Marous and Emerald Research Group, paints a picture of the spectrum of maturity by categorizing banks and credit unions into distinct segments based on their readiness and implementation of digital strategies.
Some of the study’s key highlights include:
“The banking sector faces a transformative challenge: to adapt, innovate and thrive in an increasingly digital landscape,” said Jim Marous, owner and CEO of the Digital Banking Report. “Digital experience is now closely tied to a bank or credit union’s brand. Our hope is that the insights in this report spur productive conversations in the industry and enable financial institutions to not only react more quickly to digital change but also proactively leapfrog account holder expectations.”
“US financial institutions are currently operating in the most competitive market they have faced in years, forcing banks and credit unions to raise their game to drive deposits and account holder engagement. This means that the preferred way consumers choose to bank, the digital banking channel, must evolve from the service channel it primarily is today to the digital sales and service channel that account holders and financial institutions need and deserve,” said Allison Cerra, chief marketing officer at Alkami. “We are proud to offer the market this comprehensive benchmark to understand the key differences separating segments when it comes to prioritizing and implementing digital strategies.”
To download the report, click here.
Ncontracts, the leading provider of integrated compliance, risk, and vendor management solutions to the financial services industry, announced today its agreement with America’s Credit Unions for the promotion of Ncontracts’ full suite of time and cost-saving risk management solutions.
This includes Ncontracts’ newest offering, Ntelligent Contracts Assistant, an AI-powered module of Ncontracts’ third-party risk management solution (Nvendor) that quickly extracts and analyzes information from vendor contracts, turning hours of contract reviews into minutes. It also includes Nrelief – lending compliance solutions that include fair lending analytics paired with the guidance of experienced fair lending analysts.
“Our goal is to help America’s Credit Unions members monitor and assess risks, ensure that third parties are safe, and reduce expenses,” states Michael Berman, CEO of Ncontracts. “At Ncontracts, saving our clients time and money and reducing stress through automated, innovative, and comprehensive risk management products are the driving forces behind what we do. We are honored to work with America’s Credit Unions.”
Ncontracts (through its recent acquisition of Quantivate in December 2023) will continue to power America’s Credit Unions’ Credit Union Compliance Management System™ (CU CMS) and Credit Union Compliance Management System PLUS™ (CU CMS+). Hundreds of credit unions of all sizes rely on these two centralized, web-based platforms to confidently comply with regulations.
“Managing risk and compliance is increasingly challenging, and never more important,” says Tracy Blaske, VP of Products and Services with America’s Credit Unions. “We’re pleased to collaborate with Ncontracts to support credit unions with these solutions that make them more efficient and better stewards.”
Ncontracts is excited to share more about the alliance and connect with credit unions at America’s Credit Unions’ Governmental Affairs Conference March 3-7, 2024, in Washington, D.C.
Learn more about Ncontracts risk management solutions at https://www.ncontracts.com
By Preetha Pulusani, CEO of DeepTarget
Although “analog” marketing methods have traditionally been a way of reaching various audiences, the advent of digital has revolutionized the financial services industry, changing the way credit unions communicate with their members. Driven by a combination of cultural, technological, and societal changes, digital has become a leading medium of enhancing member relationships and building new bonds with desired audiences.
So, what does that really mean?
Digital is bounded on all sides by data. On the front end, it is the use of data and artificial intelligence (AI) insights derived from data to better understand individual members and their needs. In the middle, it is delivering on these needs. And on the back end, it is measuring how well you are doing in meeting these needs. Encapsulate all of this and you get digital marketing – the modern way to engage your members and meet their needs.
Modern account holders frequent branches less, younger account holders have never been to a branch and yet the expectation for a more personalized experience is high. Personalized and relevant user experiences are becoming the price of entry in our always-connected world making it mission-critical for credit unions to fulfill this need. Credit unions that fail to modernize their member engagement practices are placing themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to achieving their mission of providing outstanding service to their individual members. A well-executed digital marketing strategy enables a credit union to use their data to gain a better understanding of their members and truly engage them, thus transforming transactions into stronger member relationships.
Leveraging data and AI in digital marketing
A major advantage of digital marketing is the ability to combine data and AI to gain significant insights into member behavior and preferences. Today, digital marketing prioritizes the use of data insights to better understand members and their unique needs. Technology enables credit unions to scale their efforts to deliver personalized experiences, measure performance, and drive strategic growth.
The growing use of AI is reshaping the way we think about marketing, opening new avenues to engage members. Leveraging AI enables credit unions to compartmentalize and analyze large volumes of data – much of which is unstructured. This allows for credit unions to create marketing messages and offers that are tailored to individual members based on their behaviors and preferences. This level of personalization enhances member experience, demonstrating that their chosen credit union cares about their financial wellbeing.
Measuring performance is just as important as the execution
Simply executing marketing campaigns is not enough. Credit unions must have a means of accurately measuring the performance of campaigns or run the risk of squandering opportunities to connect with members. Receiving and understanding metrics on campaign performance will help credit unions gauge the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and how they can potentially optimize this.
Key metrics include impressions, clicks (i.e., leads), conversion rate, new accounts and revenue generated. Precise metrics can help analyze and maximize the performance of marketing campaigns. Neglecting to measure and manage the success of a campaign can hinder opportunities for improvement.
Success with digital starts with credit union leadership
Recognizing the importance of shifting from traditional to digital marketing to better serve members also avoids stagnation and promotes growth. This must start at the top. A credit union’s leadership must prioritize digital as a means of engaging and serving members as a key initiative. This means embracing data and automation with technology. Over 80% of digitally mature brands note that they have CEO sponsorship for data-driven marketing initiatives.
When it starts at the top and is communicated throughout the credit union, the cultural mindset transforms, and this is essential for successfully transforming how credit union communication with membership evolves and matures. Data and metrics versus qualitative opinions will drive execution and performance.
Digital should not be an afterthought
Traditional marketing is characterized by its static nature, expensiveness, and hard to measure outcomes. In contrast, digital is more informed with data, dynamic, easy to optimize, and relies on key metrics. It should be no surprise that in today’s digital age, marketing that leverages data and technology has become a strategic growth initiative for credit unions. Credit unions that do not prioritize serving their members who are always connected, and demand personalized, relevant content risk losing this audience to digitally mature financial institutions. Moreover, they are doing a disservice to their membership.
Implementing a top-down digital communications strategy can lead to sustainable growth for credit unions. A credit union’s mission is to serve their members’ financial needs, which are ever-changing. It follows then that a key strategy should maximize the use of real-time data and technology to understand their members’ needs at any point in time to deliver personalized information, products, and experiences. In 2024, this should be considered table stakes.
Preetha Pulusani is the CEO of DeepTarget, a FinTech company powering the digital communication revolution for credit unions and banks with Growth as a Service™ (GRaaS™) helping financial institutions grow by delivering amazing experiences that result in up to 10x more sales and lasting relationships with their digital users. For more information, visit www.deeptarget.com.
Nook (www.nook-inc.com), a pioneer of niche experiences, is excited to announce Dort Financial Credit Union (Flint, MI) has signed an agreement to implement Nook’s Niche Experience Platform to enhance member experience.
“At Dort Financial, we believe in the power of genuine connection with our members,” said Brian Waldron, CEO, Dort Financial Credit Union. “Partnering with Nook enables us to interact with our members on a more personal level by providing tailored lifestyle content as an educational resource and entertaining escape from our typical financial-forward content. We want to be more than just a financial institution; we want to be a trusted friend and advisor, and our collaboration with Nook enables us to achieve that goal.
Dort Financial Credit Union was determined to increase share of wallet and enhance the member experience simultaneously. With Nook, Dort now offers members in the 50-plus age demographic access to the Dort | Living50+ Niche Experience, providing frequent lifestyle content relevant to their daily lives. Nook's innovative solution not only amplifies member engagement but also empowers credit unions to forge deeper connections with their members, enriching their lives with content that goes beyond conventional financial advice.
"We're thrilled to join forces with Dort Financial – Brian and his team are exceptional partners," said Austin Wentzlaff, Co-Founder & CEO, Nook. "At Nook, we aim to help credit unions reconnect with their core values by prioritizing personalized interactions with members. Our approach involves crafting niche lifestyle content that blends seamlessly into Dort Financial's existing brand. We view each new partnership as an opportunity to reinvent credit union marketing by nurturing a sense of belonging among members, and we couldn’t be more excited to grow alongside Dort.”
Fintech leaders are visionaries who understand it takes more than vision to succeed. Running a fintech requires a team of seasoned experts capable of transforming innovative concepts into market-leading solutions. This is where IgniteFI’s new Fractional Fintech service becomes a fintech’s strategic advantage.
“Our Fractional Fintech service combines the necessary structure and expertise with the flexibility to align with a fintech’s business phase,” IgniteFI Founder/CEO Julie Esser explained. “We can leverage our extensive network and experience to help build the ideal fintech workforce, from a broad-spectrum team all the way down to the smallest spark a fintech might need. I founded IgniteFI to help fintech innovators transform their vision into reality.”
Fractional Fintech offers a customized team of consultants handpicked for their industry-leading expertise. Whether a fintech needs a strategic CFO, a creative CMO, a tech-savvy CTO, or a product visionary, the new IgniteFI service provides the specialized talent to complement the vision and drive your business forward.
“Fintechs often don’t have the resources to scale as quickly as they need with the required expertise,” Esser noted. “With Fractional Fintech, as your business evolves, so does your team, adapting to new challenges and opportunities. This way, the business leaders are entirely in control – a luxury startup fintech leaders don’t often experience.”
Fractional Fintech takes a tailored approach to propel businesses forward with industry-leading expertise and without the overhead of staff. From a specialized expert to handle a specific business challenge to an entire team of professionals with diverse backgrounds, igniteFI’s Fractional Fintech can be the solution for all early-stage fintechs.
AVANA CUSO, a credit union service organization that specializes in commercial real estate lending, is hosting its first virtual webinar exploring effective portfolio management and problem loan resolution. This webinar is an opportunity for credit union professionals to learn refined skills in managing distressed commercial real estate loans directly from industry leaders.
This session is a part of a webinar series, the first one taking place on March 13, 2024, at 11:00 am MST. Discover essential strategies for handling loan collections, foreclosures, and bankruptcies, and gain critical insights to navigate complex loan scenarios from Steven Ellsworth, SVP Asset Management at AVANA CUSO, Matt Hunt, Chief Credit Officer at AVANA CUSO, and moderated by Shivan Perera, Senior Vice President at AVANA CUSO.
“Anyone in the credit union industry striving to enhance their portfolio management skills and knowledge heading into 2024 should attend this webinar,” said Shivan Perera, Senior Vice President of Debt and Participations at AVANA CUSO. “Participants will learn how to master the art of portfolio management in today’s dynamic financial environment with real-life case studies demonstrating successful recovery outcomes and improved profitability for lending partners.”
Under the guidance of AVANA's seasoned experts, participants will dive into advanced strategies tailored for navigating today's dynamic financial landscape. The session will spotlight proactive techniques for adeptly managing loan challenges, focusing on maintaining consistency and executing decisive actions. Credit union professionals attending will gain actionable insights into effectively balancing risk and reward through skilled portfolio diversification and strategic loan resolution strategies, empowering them to strengthen their financial institutions' stability.
To register for the webinar, visit: https://hubs.li/Q02kB8mn0
Teachers Federal Credit Union Selects Corridor Platforms to Help Accelerate Transformation and Growth
Teachers Federal Credit Union, a leading financial institution in the United States with $9.7 billion in assets, is excited to unveil an innovative partnership with Corridor Platforms, a pioneering force in financial decision-making technology. This transformative collaboration marks a significant milestone for the credit union, poised to redefine its approach to decision management. By integrating state-of-the-art real-time credit decisioning capabilities, this alliance promises to elevate the member experience, optimize risk management and governance through automation, and catalyze growth at an unparalleled rate.
"Ensuring that we can extend financial products and services to more members across the country is a top priority for Teachers," said Brad Calhoun, President and CEO of Teachers Federal Credit Union. "Our collaboration with Corridor Platforms marks an exciting step forward in advancing our decision-making capabilities. In today’s digital-first world, leveraging internal data and analytics is imperative, and our partnership with Corridor Platforms exemplifies our commitment to enhancing decision-making speed and agility, while keeping member experience in the forefront of everything we do."
"The banking industry has seen massive investments in decisioning capabilities and talent over the past five years, a challenging endeavor given the stringent regulatory landscape,” shared Manish Gupta, CEO of Corridor Platforms. “We are honored to support Teachers Federal Credit Union in their quest to provide outstanding service to their members. Our partnership is poised to unlock the full potential of Teachers’ data, driving valuable insights and offering highly personalized experiences that elevate member satisfaction."
Suresh Renganathan, Chief Technology Officer of Teachers Federal Credit Union, emphasized, "Our collaboration with Corridor Platforms harnesses their deep experience with major financial institutions, while allowing for Teachers to maintain full control over our data and core operations. Their proficiency in automating decisioning processes aligns seamlessly with our commitment to surpassing member expectations through innovative digital solutions and leveraging our rich internal data resources. This strategic partnership not only enhances operational efficiency but also drives cost effectiveness through the automation of analytics, reporting, and real-time decision making."
Cambio, an AI startup backed by Y-Combinator, announced the launch of its new Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), AviaryAI, the financial industry’s first outbound AI sales team. Backed by industry leaders, Envisant and Encurage Financial Network, AviaryAI brings decades of combined data, AI, and credit union experience to revolutionize member service.
Aviary's human like voicebot will initially automate outbound calls to welcome new members to their CU as well as help cross-selling CU products; additional use cases are under development. This proactive automation frees up employees to spend more time on activities that deepen member relationships. The voicebots, powered by Cambio’s custom-built, private Large Language Models (LLMs), ensure privacy and security of member data. Credit unions and banks can leverage these private LLMs to generate revenue, create efficiencies, and perform important but tedious customer outreach tasks.
“The ability to seamlessly communicate personalized offers for our member and automatically drive non-interest income makes it a win-win for our credit union and our members,” Michael Abraham, CEO of Encurage Financial Network, an Aviary investor and pilot client commented, “We’re developing deeper, more personal relationships than ever while taking less time to do so.”
AviaryAI grew out of parent company Cambio, a consumer AI startup backed by the prestigious accelerator, Y-Combinator. Cambio’s outbound AI debt negotiator proved the power and effectiveness of conversational technology, helping thousands of consumers resolve and lower their collections debt.
AviaryAI is led by CEO Blesson Abraham, who spent 5 years in leadership roles at Baxter Credit Union (BCU) before founding SavvyIntel, a SaaS analytics solution acquired by TruStage in 2017. “We saw an opportunity to take our experience in building AI for finance and apply it to an industry we know very well – credit unions,” said Blesson Abraham, Founder and CEO of AviaryAI. “Our goal is to create effortless interactions that help credit unions enhance the member experience.”
“The value in the solution AviaryAI created was immediately obvious,” said Tom Kane, President and CEO of Envisant and the Illinois Credit Union League. “Their track record in AI development and industry experience positions AviaryAI to help credit unions stay ahead of the AI curve while ensuring privacy of their member data.”
As part of an extensive rebranding initiative, the Kentucky Credit Union League has announced a fresh identity, complete with a new name and logo.
On January 26, 2024, the League Board of Directors officially approved the rebrand to "Kentucky’s Credit Unions," in line with their mission to promote unity and provide outstanding service to credit unions throughout the state. This rebrand follows the merger of the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Association of Federal-Insured Credit Unions into America’s Credit Unions.
“I am excited to be a part of this movement as we reveal our new name of Kentucky’s Credit Unions,” said Heather Walter, CEO of Advanz Credit Union and Chair of League Board Directors. “This rebrandingmore accurately reflects the collaboration and spirit that is encompassed in all credit unions across the Commonwealth. It also reinforces the continued commitment to helping credit unions in our state prosper. Together, we proudly serve over 1 million members.”
Kentucky’s Credit Unions’ rebranding initiative will be rolled out gradually across various channels, including its website, social media platforms, and marketing materials.
"It's an exciting and momentous time for the credit union movement,” said Jim Kasch, President/CEO of Kentucky’s Credit Unions. “Our collective success is more reliant than ever on continued collaboration. The new brand concisely represents the synergy created when we work together."
Westerra Credit Union is entering its 10th year sponsoring Special Olympics Colorado’s annual Polar Plunge Series. Polar Plunge is a cold-weather fundraiser that provides critical funding for nearly 21,000 Special Olympics Colorado athletes. All funds raised from the Polar Plunge series support the sports, health, educational, and leadership programs so Special Olympic athletes can participate in them for free. This is an enterprise event for Westerra Cares, Westerra’s award-winning community engagement program that supports community basics, financial literacy and education across Denver Metro communities.
To recognize this milestone, Westerra has launched the initiative $10K for 10 Athletes, which contributes a total of $10,000 to 10 athletes who participate in Special Olympics’ transformative Athlete Leadership University (ALU) program.
“Our longstanding support of Special Olympics Colorado has become a cherished tradition at Westerra. It exemplifies our commitment to building a more inclusive and empowered community through the positive impact of unified sports,” said Kristina Shaw, Vice-President of Corporate Communications at Westerra Credit Union. “Our new initiative supports the ALU program as we applaud its focus on education, leadership training, and creating real-world experiences for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
ALU empowers Special Olympics athletes to drive meaningful societal change and is designed to enhance their lives by equipping them with valuable skills, knowledge, and leadership capabilities. One of the primary goals of the program is to significantly reduce the rates of underemployment for individuals with intellectual disabilities throughout Colorado.
Get Involved and Learn More!
Westerra members and the community can contribute to the 2024 Special Olympics Colorado’s Polar Plunge Series by donating to a team, or registering to take the icy plunge or participating in the 5K run/walk/roll event. Support directly contributes to the success of the ALU program and, in turn, positively impact the lives of Special Olympics athletes. For more information and to register, visit: https://www.westerracu.com/about/community.
Special Olympics Colorado is Colorado’s premier sports organization for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. To learn more about their Polar Plunge Series, which takes place from February to October in various locations across the state, visit: https://specialolympicsco.org/events/plunge/.
Author: Mike Lawson
Married to a most gorgeous and wonderful wife, raising 5 kiddos (including twins!), enjoy helping others tell their stories, and love surfing SoCal waves. Keep it simple.