Posted by Steve Stovall, AVP, Credit Union Resources, Inc on 3/15/2018
By Chris Nicholas - CUNA Mutual Group
A little while ago, I was giving a talk on predictive analytics, and a young professional in the audience interrupted me: “What exactly is a data scientist, anyway?” he asked. 

Given the number of people who suddenly perked up to hear the answer, I realized he wasn’t the only one in the dark. If you’re wondering, too, allow me to shine a little light science on the topic.
As the Chief Analytics Officer of AdvantEdge Analytics, I direct some very smart people who are busy conducting data science for credit unions. Let’s start there. Data science is the process of extracting meaningful patterns from large sets of data. These days, data science has proven important to all businesses, including credit unions. This is because it employs reliable methods of analyzing data, discovering trends and identifying business insights.
To be sure, many analysts are involved in similar activities, but a data scientist is, naturally, diving deeper into the data. In many ways, the data scientist spans the gap between IT and the business. For most analysts, the data has already been prepared for them, whereas data scientists discover data in the systems themselves. They extract it, transform it and identify connections.  
While working with the data is part of data scientists’ activities, they also take that exploratory analysis one step further. They codify and predict the outcomes of the information they are studying. They constantly search for opportunities to build repeatable, technical assets that we call predictive models 
Predictive models are where the greatest business value lies for the credit union. It’s one thing to use data to understand what’s been happening in the business. But, it is quite another to use data to make accurate predictions of future outcomes. Once these models are created, business areas can use the information to support actions like building marketing campaigns or creating specific business initiatives.
For example, let’s say you’re the credit union: You want to predict which members are likely to churn from your portfolio and isolate the causes for leaving. Predictive models allow you to do that. What’s more, they can help you identify the appropriate actions and programs that can help you retain those members. And, they provide the means to measure the success of the programs.  
So, a data scientist is a multidisciplinary expert with deep skills in mathematics, computer science, statistics and computer programming. In my role, I am always looking out for well-rounded data scientists. They typically must possess a great deal of business acumen to go with their technical expertise. They also need to have strong communication skills because they operate at so many different levels of the business. In my experience in the trade, it's typically a small cohort of experts that fit the bill.
Unfortunately, it’s not very likely that a credit union has the resources to employ a full-time team of first-rate data scientists. The good news is that there are now options in the marketplace. If you're looking to capitalize on the value that data science can create for your organization, take a look at industry partners like AdvantEdge Analytics. We have a full complement of data scientists on staff, with the processes, practices and experience to help deliver the full power of data science to your organization. 
Originally posted on the CUNA Mutual Group Insights blog on Wednesday, March 14.
Categories: Business Partners, Financial & Auditing, Marketing & Printing, Research, Sales & Service, Strategic Planning & Consulting
Posted by Justin Lutes, AAP, NCP, Vice President, Correspondent Services, Catalyst Corporate FCU on 2/22/2018

It may seem like just yesterday when Same-Day ACH became mandatory for credit unions, but it’s been nearly two years since ODFIs and RDFIs began implementing the first of a three-phase process. On March 16, Phase 3 of Same-Day ACH will complete this two-year transition. 

For most financial institutions, implementation of Phase 1 and Phase 2 went off without a hitch, and Same-Day acceptance is looking promising.

For instance, a recent NACHA study shows 82 percent of financial institutions anticipate Same-Day ACH debit volume to grow at a rapid or steady rate, and 78 percent expect ACH credit volume to grow at a steady rate over the next six to nine months.

The study included 22 financial institutions, representative of 78 percent of the ACH Network origination volume. Of the ODFIs surveyed, 84 percent reported their actual Same-Day debit volume was the same or higher than anticipated and 90 percent of RDFIs echoed that sentiment.

What’s most notable is that while volume is increasing quickly, there is no indication of increased fraud. This is all great news!

With implementation of the final phase of Same-Day ACH just a couple of weeks away, credit unions can begin discussing even more ways to assist members with faster ACH payments. However, let’s first look at a few lessons we’ve learned along the way:

Unintended Consequences. Many credit unions intend to have an item process the next day, but sometimes staff or employees enter a current date or stale date (previous date) in the Effective Date space and release the ACH file before 12:45 p.m. CT. These items are processing as Same-Day items. The good news is there’s an easy fix. Simply pay close attention to the Effective Dates and release times when processing Same-Day items.

Late Returns. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so don’t delay processing returns for Same-Day items. Remember, the return window for Same-Day items always begins on the settlement date of the item. 

Keeping the Balance. Accidents happen; it’s human nature. But, it’s imperative to identify and correct those mistakes ASAP to minimize the damage. For example, if an ODFI sends an item in error and applies a credit without a debit, a member can withdraw the credit before the credit union reverses it from the account. This results not only in a misappropriation of funds, but also decreases confidence in an institution. Balancing daily helps to minimize this risk.

On the Clock. Another reason balancing daily is imperative is that RDFIs have such a short window of opportunity to send returns to the ODFI. If not completed in the allotted time, it may result in a loss to the RDFI. Conversely, when ODFIs receive items from RDFIs and don’t act quickly enough, they are out of Same-Day compliance.

Same-Day ACH transition is winding down, but that doesn’t mean questions will. Tools like Catalyst Corporate’s ACH Central and NACHA’s resource center are available 24/7 to help credit unions navigate the twists and turns of Same-Day ACH, including what’s coming in Phase 3.

Categories: Business Partners, Compliance, Education & Training
Posted by Alison Barksdale, AVP of Mktg, CU Members Mortgage on 2/15/2018

Imagine you are driving down the highway and see a major accident. Sirens are going off as the police, ambulance, and firefighters arrive to assist in the catastrophe. The horrific incident takes up several lanes across the highway and your car inches by the scene down the one open lane. You slow even more as you see the crunched vehicles that look like they are made of paper. You keep watching as you want to see if everyone is okay, but are frustrated as your view is blocked by a fire truck. You can’t see anyone. You keep looking. You keep driving. Suddenly you are too far to see the accident. A few car links past the scene and you’ve cranked up the radio and continue on your commute. That’s it. Never a second thought.

This isn’t to start a debate about if you should stop and help or not. It is however a call to ask yourself, how much empathy you apply to your everyday member and your everyday loan file. When a member tells you they’ve had a rough experience with their previous lender, how do you respond? When a member explains they are scared or nervous, do you listen? Do you empathize with their situation?

When a member buys a home, they are providing all of their financial information. Every last detail of their financial failures and successes. Every deep dark financial secret in the closet. As a loan officer, you see it all. And, you have the opportunity to drive right pass their fears and concerns or you can comfort them and show them you understand and care about their well-being.

A recent Gallup poll states that only 22% of mortgage buyers are fully engaged with their lender. That leaves a lot of consumers out there very uncommitted to their lender. An engaged member during the home loan process, is emotionally and psychologically attached to the lender they do business with and become loyal, vocal brand ambassadors and give the lender more of their time and business according to Gallup.

If loan officers can find ways to empathize with their members, they will build trust and grow engagement. Growing engagement is good for the loan officer and for the credit union’s long term growth. How do loan officers empathize with members?

Empathy is simply put as understanding the feelings of another individual. It may not be stopping the car for every stalled car, but it does mean stopping the conversation and expressing how you understand what the member is sharing with you. Here are some tips to help you as a loan officer engage with empathy.

Validate the member’s experience or feelings.

If your member is sharing with you a personal experience or detail of their lives, ask questions and listen. The member needs to believe they are the only person that matters at that very moment. Ask them how it made them feel. Ask them about the details. Give them the validation they need to feel you care about them.

Educate them

Financial matters are a very personal for most people. Buying a home heightens the emotion because every decision made either gets them one step closer to their dream in the home, or farther from it. However, an educated member can apply logic to the scenario and suddenly a hyper emotional situation can become a logical transaction with a schedule of steps. For example, explaining to them that taking out new credit causes adjustment to their credit score and could possibly cause them to delay or even cancel the loan, gives the member the opportunity to control that end result. Education helps the member control the situation and make decisions that will get them closer to their dream. Teach them and they will appreciate you and your brand.


Finding the best communication with each member shows you care about meeting their needs. Find out how they want to be communicated with and when, and follow through. It shows you care about what their preferences are and are listening to even the littlest of details. It also increases their satisfaction on the entire process by making it easy to talk with you.

Empathy is key to encouraging a positive loan experience for your members and ensuring a high level of satisfaction. It shows members they are more than a file to you and that you are looking out for their best interest.

Categories: Education & Training, Marketing & Printing
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