Leading a credit union – or any organization – has perhaps never been more difficult than with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. And, in the case of credit unions, perhaps demonstrating leadership in financial services has never been more critical.
We asked the eleven members of CO-OP’s Board of Directors, leaders of prominent credit unions across the country, to share their perspectives on how they have responded to COVID-19. All of them, as you might expect, deferred enormous credit to their employees for rising to the challenge and acting as #CreditUnionHeroes during these uncertain times.
Perspectives from the CO-OP Board of Directors:
On the member front, we split into project teams and quickly rolled out parts of a relief package. We implemented Skip-A-Pay for consumer loans and credit cards, modified mortgages, ramped up emergency relief loans, slashed late fees and NSF fees, and tweaked mobile deposit limits. On top of all that, our Foundation identified nonprofits in the community that were making immediate impact, and provided them with nearly $700,000 in grants.
– Chuck Purvis, President & CEO, Coastal FCU (Board Position: Chairperson)
I’m proud of the comprehensive approach we’ve taken to help alleviate the economic hardships our members are facing during this time. Two examples include quickly launching new products, like a 0% APR personal loan for up to $1,000, and increasing member liquidity by waiving early CD withdrawal fees. To support the long-term health of our communities, we created and promoted new financial education content, and pledged support to COVID-19 response funds in nine communities in Washington and in South Carolina. We also implemented a 2:1 employee donation gift match for the month of May.
– Benson Porter, President & CEO, BECU (Board Position: Vice-Chairperson)
I have had more emails from members than at any time in the past just expressing appreciation for not only being available, but in the tone and manner we are responding. We have offered no questions asked emergency loans, payment deferrals and fee waivers. We have encouraged our members to talk with us about other ways we can assist in the true spirit of a cooperative and a community. We can visibly see the actions we take changing someone’s financial life more clearly and that is beyond motivating!
– Joan Opp, President & CEO, Stanford FCU (Board Position: Treasurer/Secretary)
We have deferred payments at no cost on millions of dollars in loans so our members could instead put food on their families’ table. In addition, we have been able to help hundreds of small businesses survive by processing their Payroll Protections loans when their banks wouldn’t even call them back. Our average loan amount was much smaller than the larger financial institutions in our area, so I know we made a huge impact. Lastly, I’m proud to say that very early on we donated our entire pandemic inventory of masks and gloves to our local healthcare providers. They needed them far worse than we did.
– Jackie Buchanan, President & CEO, Genisys CU (Board Position: Director)
I think the areas I’m most proud of relate to our credit union’s participation in the Payment Protection Program (PPP). We knew our business members were in survival mode and needed help, so we didn’t hesitate to jump in to provide access to the relief program. Our staff was up late, in early and working weekends to administer this program and help our businesses and our community through this pandemic. One result is that we have had quite a few businesses come to our institution since this pandemic started in search of a more personalized relationship.
– Robert Chavez, President & CEO, Sandia Laboratory FCU (Board Position: Director)
Bethpage FCU is at the center of the hardest-hit areas of New York. I am very proud to be a part of an incredible team that, together, created a safe environment for our teammates and members, found creative ways to provide essential services, and provided support to our communities in need. We worked closely with our local governments, hospital systems, and not for profit partners to support critical community services. The teamwork and caring every teammate demonstrated every day is what I’m most proud of.
– Wayne Grosse, President & CEO, Bethpage FCU (Board Position: Director)
We were able to implement our Member Assistance Program (MAP) to help Members secure funds or payment relief quickly for those impacted directly by this pandemic. This program provides a variety of relief efforts including the automatic deferment of payments on existing loans, waiving fees on a variety of services, and most recently, the launch of three emergency loan options all at 0% interest. To help keep everyone healthy and safe, we’ve introduced virtual branch appointments and alternative ways for our Members to engage with us digitally.
– John Janclaes, President & CEO, Partners FCU (Board Position: Director)
Numerous operational procedures, including the mortgage and loan deferral processes, have been automated to improve efficiency and delivery speed. Going forward, NASA FCU will not only remain focused on collaborating to stay financially sound, supporting employees, helping members and staying together as a team, but will continue to improve every aspect of the remote operation. And, as always, we are working daily to empower members to achieve a brighter financial future.
– Theresa Mann, Vice President/Chief Risk Officer, NASA FCU (Board Position: Director)
We offered our Helping Hand loan for those impacted by the pandemic, launched loan deferments for both consumer and business loans, and offered additional time off for our Canvas family that had dependent care challenges or might be impacted by the virus in other ways. In addition, our branch teams began to make outbound support calls to our members to simply touch base and offer our support, answer their questions, and reinforce our concern for them.
– Todd Marksberry, President & CEO, Canvas CU (Board Position: Director)
Within two days of announcing remote work-from-home plans in mid-March, all but a handful of Alliant employees were performing their roles remotely. As a result, members experienced no interruptions in service. Alliant teams responded to the drastically altered environment to quickly enact process and systems changes – to address the high volume of loan modification requests, for example – and move forward with key initiatives, working together while apart.
– David Mooney, President & CEO, Alliant CU (Board Position: Director)
In the midst of the pandemic’s onset, in April, we renewed and extended our support for helping sick children through a program to support the Riley Children’s Foundation “Riley Relief Fund,” helping families affected by COVID-19. We partnered the Indianapolis Indians, the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A team, to launch the Indians Signature Rewards Visa Credit Card. For each new qualifying card, the two organizations partnered to donate $100 to the Relief Fund. It was step forward for us, but allowed us to not overlook the need to help children, to which our movement is so committed.
– Lisa Schlehuber, CEO, Elements Financial FCU (Board Position: Director)
Take a minute to recognize the heroes at your credit union that have made a difference over the last several weeks by participating in our #CreditUnionHeroes social media campaign. For every story posted on social media with the hashtag #CreditUnionHeroes and tagging @CO-OPFS, CO-OP will donate $10 to both Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the National Credit Union Foundation, up to $10,000 for each charity! (see an example)