Wednesday, April 11, 2018

AdvantEdge Analytics Acquires Data Integration Company Finivation


Our data analytics company AdvantEdge Analytics has acquired, Finivation. The New York-based data systems integration and software company offers real-time data integration for credit unions, community financial institutions and technology providers.

AdvantEdge will incorporate Finivation’s Concert integration product into its suite of services to build and strengthen data integration across the credit union industry. This acquisition will further advance the development of an industry standard platform that will best position credit unions to improve the member experience, enable growth and compete more effectively.

“Credit unions are increasingly confronted with integration challenges due to disparate systems that hinder their ability to get the most value from their member data,” said Tim Peterson, president, AdvantEdge Analytics. “This acquisition is another step toward building seamless connections to help credit unions grow. Adding Finivation’s advanced data integration technology to our comprehensive offering will provide credit unions with data-driven solutions to help serve their members.”

Finivation’s technology will enhance the AdvantEdge Analytics™ Data Platform to help credit unions integrate various core and ancillary systems in an efficient and standardized manner. Credit unions will gain better access to real-time data and reduce the time and cost of integrating, maintaining and updating connectivity between systems, including credit card and loan origination systems, contact centers, branch platforms, and digital banking solutions.

For more information, see the full press release or visit advantedgeanalytics.com.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Providing Pro Bono Legal Services in Our Communities

By Taylor Kilgore, Communications Consultant

At CUNA Mutual Group, we recognize the need in our community for affordable legal services. Members of our legal department feel they have a responsibility as attorneys – to help make legal services accessible to people who need them but don’t have access to them – especially veterans and their families. So, in 2013, they started the pro bono program with a goal of helping people navigate the often expensive and confusing legal system.

Since then, the team has provided pro bono assistance to hundreds of people through the Wills for Heroes program, the Small Claims Assistance Program and the Veterans Law Clinic.


Wills for Heroes 
The Wills for Heroes Clinic prepares wills and other basic estate planning documents at no charge for eligible first responders and their spouses or domestic partners. Our pro bono team helps to fulfill their mission: to serve those who serve us.

“To volunteer at the Wills for Heroes Clinic is important to me because it allows me to give back to those who do so much for our country and our communities,” said Diane Fisher, Law Specialist. “They are grateful for the service we provide for free.”

Small Claims Assistance Program 
The Small Claims Assistance Program is staffed by volunteer attorneys and paralegals across our local Madison community, including the pro bono team, who provide free legal assistance to self-represented small claims clients. Many of these people may not know what rights they have or what the small claims process looks like.

“I literally sit down in a room and help people walk through their problems and try to figure out their options,” said Paul Barbato, Associate General Counsel. “We discuss what the solutions to their problems might be and I help them see and understand what the legal process might look like and entail for them.”

Veterans Law Clinic
The pro bono team also supports veterans who need legal help. The Veterans Law Clinic provides free legal services to low income veterans and their families. Jeannie Porter, Senior Counsel, supports this because she is a veteran herself. She says she enjoys the connection she makes with each person she counsels.

"When I finished active duty I was looking for a way to use my law degree and help veterans a the same time," she said. "I didn't have any idea that something like the veteran's law clinic existed. After a little research, I volunteered."

Both the assistance program and the law clinic rely on a consistent base of volunteers. Our team’s pro bono program is just a small part of what we are doing to make a difference and help people achieve financial security.

Learn more about our company culture of giving back and how we focus on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a business.

How do you make a positive impact on your community? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Volunteering Is Good for Your Health -- In More Ways Than One!


By Taylor Kilgore


At CUNA Mutual Group, we care about volunteering. It’s part of our company culture. We can all see the benefits it has for the people and communities we serve. But, did you know it’s good for your health, your career and possibly your family life too?

Studies show that volunteering improves mental health, lowers your blood pressure, increases happiness and provides a sense of purpose. According to a recent United Healthcare study, nearly 80 percent of people who volunteer say that it has made them feel healthier and lowered their stress levels. In addition, nearly 95 percent found their mood improved and their sense of purpose enriched.

Volunteering can advance your career, too. It provides a renewed creativity, motivation and vision that can carry over into your professional life. It gives you the opportunity to practice important skills used in the workplace, such as teamwork, communicating, problem solving, project planning, task management and organization.

Family life may even benefit from volunteering. Children are always watching. By giving back to the community, you show them firsthand how volunteering makes a difference and how good it feels to help other people.

Everyone has busy schedules. So, know that volunteering can be tailored to when it is convenient for you. You can make it a one-time event, or it can be ongoing. Know that any time volunteered goes a long way and makes a lasting impact – even in ways you never imagined.

If you're looking for ways to give back to your local community? You can take advantage of National Volunteer Month in April. Or, to learn more about the work we're doing through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and with the CUNA Mutual Group Foundation, click here.

Why do you enjoy making a difference in your community? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Three Auto & Home Insurance Trends Credit Unions Should Know


Auto and home (A&H) insurance products are significant ongoing investments your members make to protect what matters most in their lives. And, offering these products is another way we, as credit union leaders, can deliver on our promise of value as we work to provide excellent service and increase member retention.

Whether or not your credit union currently offers A&H insurance, keeping an eye on emerging trends is key to evaluating and working with your current insurance provider or to helping you implement new insurance offerings. Not surprisingly, many of the trends to watch are driven by technology and connectivity.  Here’s a snapshot of three trends for 2018 that promise to be major factors in shaping the A&H industry:

1. Creating a one-stop member experience.
In our increasingly connected and rapid response marketplace, consumers have come to expect and demand streamlined service. To be able to compete with comparison sites such as Policy Genius or Compare Now, credit unions need to prioritize the capability to provide competitive quotes to members within a single phone call, visit, or online experience to stay competitive, add value, and grow member relationships.

2. The Internet of Things will further personalize pricing.
Smart devices have the potential to record data about everything from miles driven to acceleration and braking rates for drivers. In the home, smart thermostats and fire detection devices can help decrease risk of serious damage. These advances offer insurers the ability to provide better, more personalized pricing for policyholders in a way that is likely to end up costing the company less.

3. Momentum for ride sharing and autonomous cars will continue.
Major shifts toward ride sharing and autonomous cars are already driving insurance companies to update their products accordingly, such as pricing based on the number of miles a person drives or rides rather than a fixed monthly rate. As our daily routines evolve, expect continued and corresponding innovation in auto insurance offerings.

Are you prepared to better serve, retain and provide value to your members? As technology continues to change the way credit union members live, communicate, and do business, it's important for credit unions to stay relevant with their members' needs--especially when it comes to insurance.

  
For more of the latest trends to watch in  2018, download our infographic.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Credit Union Trends Report: March 2018

Our Credit Union Trends Report for March 2018 is now available online. The report covers data from January 2018 and includes details on credit union memberships, loans savings and more. Highlights include the following:
  • During January, credit unions picked up 463,000 in new memberships, and loan and savings balances grew at an 11.4 percent and 5.2 percent seasonally-adjusted annualized pace, respectively. 
  • Firms hired 239,000 workers, nominal consumer spending increased 0.2 percent, and long-term interest rates increased 18 basis points. Real GDP increased 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.5 percent for all of 2017, above the 1.6 percent increase in 2016.
  • At the end of January, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 5,758 CUs in operation, nine fewer than one month earlier. Year-over-year, the number of credit unions declined by 248, more than the 224 lost in the 12 months ending in January 2017.
  • Total credit union assets fell 0.1 percent in January, below the 0.5 percent gain reported in January 2017. Assets rose 5.9 percent during the past year due to a 6.1 percent increase in deposits, a -1.3 percent decrease in borrowings, and a 6.9 percent increase in capital.
  • The nation’s credit unions increased their loan portfolios by 0.7 percent in January, more than the 0.6 percent pace reported in January 2017. Loan balances are up 10.9 percent during the last 12 months. With loan balances growing faster than savings, credit union liquidity is tightening up as the credit union average loan-to-savings ratio reached 84.4 percent, up from 80.8 percent in January 2017.
  • Credit union memberships rose 0.41 percent in January, up from the 0.19 percent gain reported in January 2017. Memberships are up 4.6 percent during the past year due to robust demand for credit, solid job growth and comparatively lower fees and loan interest rates.
  • Credit union loan delinquency rates rose to 0.8 percent in January from 0.79 percent in December, but is down from 0.83 percent from one year ago. The credit union capital-to-asset ratio rose to 10.7 percent in January from 10.6 percent last January, as capital growth outpaced asset growth.
Click here to download the full report.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Looking Back: 2017 and Financial Momentum

Last year was a strong financial year for our business in more than a few ways. 
We share the specifics in today’s announcement and our latest annual report. Highlights include:
·      We generated strong financial results through revenues, income and assets.
·      We embraced disruption through new data analytics solutions (AdvantEdge Analytics) and fintech investments (CMFG Ventures).
·      We surpassed $6 billion in assets under management (AUM) for annuity products and saw annuity sales grow through our broker/dealer and financial advisor network (CUNA Brokerage Services Inc).
·      Our consumer brand TruStage® became one of the first companies to bring two entirely online life insurance products to market. Its simplified-issue term life insurance product exceeded $1 billion in issued coverage in less than a year.
·      We gave back. Responding to weather-related disaster conditions, we paid claims and deployed our disaster response teams to affected areas. We also supported CUAid, credit union leagues, other industry organizations/causes and local community nonprofits through corporate giving and volunteer work.
·      A.M. Best Company upgraded our key insurance companies’ Long-Term Credit Ratings to “a+” from “a” and affirmed the Financial Strength Ratings of A (Excellent) with a stable outlook.
Reflecting on this, our chief financial officer Thomas J. Merfeld said, “Our financial strength and record balance sheet allow us to invest in new capabilities to serve our customers and continue to stay true to our purpose of helping people secure their financial futures.” 
For more information, see today's press release or our 2017 Year in Review report.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

What's a Data Scientist?

By Chris Nicholas

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. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

New TruStage #WhatMattersNow Research Explores Multicultural Consumers for Credit Unions

Today, we released our annual TruStage® What Matters Now consumer research at CUNA’s Marketing and Business Development Council Conference. 
The new research reveals insights on multicultural consumers and how their cultural differences can impact business performance. It also shares ways credit unions can reach and establish more meaningful relationships with this core consumer group.
Why multicultural? Over the past five years, multicultural consumers accounted for 100 percent of U.S. population growth and 61 percent of credit union membership growth, according to The Collage Group, Latinum Network.1
Highlights from the new study include:
·    Hispanic consumers are nine times as likely to acquire a small business loan within the next five years.
·    African American and Hispanic consumers are twice as likely to research financial products and services using mobile apps and call to ask about financial products.  
·    Convenience and flexibility are two times more important to Hispanic and African American consumers, even if it means paying higher rates and fees.
·    African American consumers are two times more likely to take-out a student loan than white consumers.
·    And, 69 percent of Asian and white consumers own investment products.
“When examining the research findings, it’s important to remember a person is made up of many unique cultural aspects,” said Opal Tomashevska, manager, multicultural business strategy, CUNA Mutual Group. “Be careful not to over-generalize or create stereotypes from this information and apply it to all members of a certain group. The data shows trends and significant differences, but it does not attempt to speak for every individual."
The new #WhatMattersNow research also reveals significant differences in multicultural consumers’ attitudes, beliefs, values, feelings and priorities. Multicultural consumers rank considerably higher than white consumers in these six areas:
·     Optimism
·     Hustle
·     Living in the moment
·     Worry
·     Generosity
·     Placing the community above the individual.

Click here to read the full announcement, or go to www.cunamutual.com/whatmattersnow for the research report itself.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Three Consumer Trends Impacting the Auto and Home Insurance Industry



As technology and connectivity continue to transform the daily lives and shopping behaviors of consumers, we need to be focused on what Farnaz Wallace, founder of the strategic consulting firm Farnaz Global, calls the “New World Marketplace.” 1

As Baby Boomers and Generation X age out, the millennials who grew up with mobile technology are going to drive market behavior. While they are currently only 25 percent of the population, millennials are projected to make up 75 percent of the population in 2025. For them, 24/7 service is the norm, online reviews carry significant weight and interaction with brands on social media is an everyday occurrence.

This “New World Marketplace” has paved the way for a host of new trends that are shaping the insurance industry—not only the products themselves, but the way consumers shop for them. Here is a snapshot of three consumer trends impacting the A&H industry in 2018:

1. Continued direct channel growth.
While direct channels have been steadily growing over a period of years, without a doubt this continued trend demands our ongoing attention. The rapid and continued rise of direct channels is being driven by consumers’ desires to instantly fulfill their needs, mostly due to access to smartphones. Today, 77 percent of adults in the United States use a smartphone, a significant increase from just 35 percent in 2011.2

2. The prevalence of web and mobile as a research platform.
Seventy four percent of insurance shoppers research online before they buy, but only 25 percent actually purchase online.3 This gap signifies an opportunity for credit unions not just to close the deal but to improve the impression shoppers are getting from their experience. Even when just checking prices, consumers are absorbing an abundance of other information—everything from how your navigation works to the availability of customer service and support—that will eventually inform purchase decisions.

3. A continued desire to shop around.
Statistics show most consumers saw a cost increase of about 8 percent in 2017,4 and that price is the number one factor that drives people to research and shop insurance options. With additional cost increases projected for 2018, and the comparison shopping that will inevitably follow, how will you package your products to be value-forward

When it comes to insurance, the bigger question for credit unions is how they will serve this New World Marketplace by transforming their offerings, service and online experience to meet the consumer expectations and demands of 2018 and beyond.

For more information about auto and home insurance trends to watch, download our infographic.

1.     Andy Serowitz, InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com, “Demographics and P&C Insurance” February 15, 2016.
2.     Pew Research Center, “Record shares of Americans now own smartphones, have home broadband,” January 12, 2017.
3.     J.D. Power, “2016 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study: Insurers Lean on Online Presence to Grow Premiums,” May 1, 2016.
4.     ConsumerReports.com, “Car Insurance Buying Guide: Finding the Policy That’s Best for You,” October 2017.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Credit Union Trends Report: February 2018

Our Credit Union Trends Report for February 2018 is available online. The report covers data from December 2017 and includes details on credit union memberships, loans, savings and more. Highlights include the following:

During December, credit unions picked-up 373,000 in new memberships and loan and savings balances grew at a 10.2 percent and 6.2 percent seasonally-adjusted annualized pace, respectively. Firms hired 160,000 workers, nominal consumer spending increased 0.4 percent and long-term interest rates increased 5 basis points. The economy grew 2.6 percent in the fourth quarter and 2.5 percent over the last year.

At the end of December, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 5,767 CUs in operation, 39 fewer than one month earlier. Year-over-year, the number of credit unions declined by 255, more than the 214 lost in the 12 months ending in December 2016.

Total credit union assets rose 0.3 percent in December, below the 0.5 percent rise reported in December of 2016. Assets rose 6.3 percent during the past year due to a 6.3 percent increase in deposits, a 3.0 percent decline in borrowings and a 7.7 percent increase in capital.

The nation’s credit unions increased their loan portfolios by 1.0 percent in December, more than the 0.9 percent pace reported in December 2016. Loan balances are up 10.5 percent over the last 12 months. With loan balances growing faster than assets during the last year, the credit union average loan-to-asset ratio reached 70.4 percent, up from 67.5 percent in December 2016.

Credit union memberships rose 0.33 percent in December, up from the 0.31 percent gain reported in December 2016. Memberships are up 4.3 percent over the past year due to robust demand for credit, solid job growth and comparatively lower fees and loan interest rates.

Credit union loan delinquency rates fell to 0.79 percent in December; down from 0.83 percent one year earlier due to fast loan growth. The credit union net capital-to-asset ratio fell to 10.9 percent in December, up from 10.6 percent in December 2016 and slightly below the community banks’ core capital ratio of 10.7 percent.

To read the full report, click here.