GONZALES, La. — When trying to attract millennials as new members, it helps if your CEO happens to be one.
That's the case for Ronaldo Hardy who has led Shell Geismar FCU since late 2011.
"We are like every other credit union in that we have had a problem with a membership that is aging," said the 30-year-old Hardy. "We had opened the field of membership to Shell employee family members in 2009, but we didn't have the necessary technologies in place to attract the younger members."
More than a year and a half ago, the $30 million credit union, with two branches and 3,100 members, began looking for a new core vendor. The goal was to implement a new core system that would provide person-to-person payment, electronic bill pay solutions, mobile banking and remote deposit capture, according to Hardy.
"You would be surprised the expectations that exist in the millennial generation, and the generation coming up behind them," he said. "They don't care how much the technology costs us, they want it to be available to them. Popmoney, for example, is an expectation and if it's not available they will go elsewhere."
(Popmoney is a person-to-person payments service developed by CashEdge, now part of Fiserv, that launched in December 2010 that enables individuals to send and receive payments electronically.)
Shell Geismar, with a total of nine employees, operates more like Google's headquarters, albeit a micro atmosphere, in that every voice and opinion is heard in an open business environment.
That ethos came in handy when the team vetted five core vendors.
Efficiency, Hardy noted, was at the top of the list.
"With our old core, there were a lot of processes that should have been automated that we were still handling manually. I wanted employees to be more focused on innovating and looking toward the future [of member needs]."
After 12 months of searching and testing, the credit union selected CUnify and Integrated Digital Solutions from Fiserv. Hardy said that among standout services was the account processing platform in an outsourced deployment, Popmoney for person-to-person payments and CheckFree RXP for electronic bill payments.
"A core conversion all starts with strategy," said Mark Sievewright, division president, Credit Union Solutions, Fiserv. "It's a major undertaking because it is at the very heart of the credit union' technology environment. When you are deciding on solutions that are directly for members like person-to-person, online banking, mobile, and the like, it's even more important to have a strategy set for what you are trying to achieve."
Hardy noted that the CU's new core system had to have an open architecture so all banking services — from online lending to mobile banking — could seamlessly interface with the core.
"We are wild and wacky here, so we might decide to divide partnerships and relationships with a variety of different vendors and we didn't want the ability to communicate ineffectively with our core that would get in the way of some of our strategic initiatives," said Hardy.
Rolling Out Technologies
On May 1 Fiserv's web banking solution, bill pay solution, online loan application, online account opening and Popmoney were rolled out. Hardy and his team are currently working on a mobile banking offering and remote deposit capture, both of which he hopes are live be the end of the year.
"We wanted to stagger these offerings to make sure we were doing everything successfully and not run this risk of not doing something well," said Hardy. He added that his team has benefited from training and education offered by Fiserv.
"Fiserv helps credit unions provide a better experience for their members through industry-leading, innovative technology solutions, and we are very pleased with the momentum that CUnify has delivered since our acquisition of Open Solutions," said Sievewright.
Since the new core went live, seven months after signing the contract with Fiserv, efficiency is being realized across the boards. Shell Geismar is now attracting, on average, 10 new members a month, 80% of whom are family members.
When asked what percentage of these new members were millennials attracted by new technology offerings, Hardy said the statistics were not yet available. He added that he does see a slight demographic increase.
"Everything went very smoothly, and I lived through a bad core conversion in a past life," said Hardy. "What we feel is that our organization is going to grow at a very accelerated rate and we have identified the millennial generation as a generation we want to go after. So we wanted a core that could scale with us as we grow."