In June of 2020, for the second consecutive year, BCU was named one of Forbes Best-In-State Banks & Credit Unions, ranking #1 in Illinois and #5 in Minnesota.
BCU’s purpose-driven strategy meets the member wherever they are, leveraging technology to empower people to improve their financial well-being and discover financial freedom. With shared values and a commitment to always put the member first, BCU's relationship-driven culture is the catalyst that provides extraordinary service to enrich the lives of nearly 300,000 members. By nurturing a thriving work environment and recognizing employees as the valued individuals they are, BCU has become one of the fastest-growing credit unions over the last four decades.
Here Today For Your Tomorrow
Driven by its tagline, ‘Here Today For Your Tomorrow,’ BCU offers innovative resources to members while supporting employees through growth and opportunities. Mike Valentine, president and CEO, shares a shining example of how BCU helps members leverage today’s tech for tomorrow’s well-being.
“Annually, BCU hosts a roundtable with Company Partners to share information and garner valuable insight into their best practices while gaining a better understanding of their employees’ needs.”
“High-rate payday loans and lack of overdraft protections were issues affecting members' financial well-being that BCU needed to solve. To tackle this problem, we partnered with QCash Financial to roll out an express loan product that allows members to get quick approval and access to funds without requiring traditional underwriting criteria or a credit report screen.”
“Instead, we utilize BCU's internal data on spending and deposit habits, as well as the member’s banking history to serve as the underwriting criteria for the loan. This provides members with quick approval and access to funds while building credit and saving versus other high-cost alternatives. By partnering with QCash, we’re able to offer this as a fully digital experience.”
In less than 60 seconds, a member can apply for an express loan by answering six to eight questions using the mobile app and instantaneously receive funding. Features like auto-populated loan applications and single sign-on make the process even more streamlined and have proven essential to increasing adoption, especially during the pandemic as people have less access to physical locations.
BCU also provides a holistic financial well-being program that they’ve branded, Life. Money. You.®. Available to members and non-members alike, Life. Money. You. empowers people to make decisions today that will positively impact their financial future, like buying a home, repaying student debt, starting a family, or planning for retirement. The program is complimentary and includes one-on-one coaching with BCU-staff certified financial counselors, live (or virtual) events that cover a myriad of trending financial topics, and digital tools placed right in the palm of members’ hands using the BCU mobile app.
Partnering with companies like SavvyMoney® and using APIs and other transformative technologies, BCU members have free access to review credit scores at any time, so they can monitor their progress and achieve their financial health targets using mobile or online banking. SavvyMoney is one of BCU’s strongest fintech relationships. Working together since 2013, more than half of the credit union’s digital banking users are enrolled with SavvyMoney and receive daily access to credit scores, reporting, monitoring, financial education, and pre-qualified loan offers. SavvyMoney’s innovative, member-focused approach aligns well with BCU’s core strategy.
To help keep their clients safe, BCU is now also partnering with Breach Clarity. “This year, we began working with Breach Clarity, a company providing identity protection services that help us monitor and locate data breaches or attempts made at identity theft.”
Meeting you where you’re at
BCU realizes members all have their own unique preferred banking methods. While some still choose to walk into a Branch or call to speak with a representative, both options allow BCU to connect and consult the member on whatever they may need. And yet, there is another fast-growing segment that prefers the convenience of accessing services anytime, anywhere through digital channels.
“That's always my dilemma in this digital world,” says Valentine. “We have been so successful with our personalized member relationships and service building. How do we translate that same experience with a digital device and create a unified experience?”
This is why BCU believes its job is to meet members wherever they are by providing a friction-free omnichannel member experience. By focusing on the intersection between human and digital, BCU hopes to humanize the digital experience and foster longstanding successful relationships that bring value.
“Our goal is to have a full product solution for our members, whatever their needs may be, both personally and professionally. From credit monitoring, investment advisory services, financing a house or a car, or improving their credit or even budgeting—we can help,” says Dave Blum, senior vice president, corporate services, and U.S. service centers.
“Over 50% of our existing members don't have access to a Branch. Over the years, we've put significant investment into digital channels, both desktop, and mobile, with mobile logins making up 65% of digital logins. More than ever, it's crucial that we provide our members and potential members with the same experience banking digitally that they would have if visiting a Branch location.”
"We now offer mobile tools like remote deposit that lets members deposit a check from their phone instead of going into a Branch. They can also transfer funds, monitor their credit score, and view financial well-being content. By significantly investing in our digital channels over the years, members are given as much flexibility as possible when banking with us."
Standardized offerings, a customized approach
Jill Sammons, vice president of marketing & brand strategy, shares how BCU takes a customized approach to designing a program to best provide workplace financial well-being. "We have 40 years of experience partnering with these great companies, getting to know their cultures, and understanding how much they care about their employees. We take all of that into consideration in order to customize a well-rounded, relevant offering that meets the needs of all their employee segments. BCU delivers valuable financial solutions that support everyone from the entry-level employee who’s just starting out to the C-suite."
In summarizing how the credit union successfully serves such a diverse portfolio of Company Partners, Blum explains, "I have a team of directors who work with our Company Partners daily to align initiatives, increase engagement with our existing members, and acquire new members. This helps drive the business development activities that we do."
Valentine highlights that in order to offer full-service products to Company Partner segments, "We've had to also work closely with our core institutional partners, like Visa® and PSCU, to provide the best functionality on our digital interface so that we can introduce these new products and services."
Valentine further explains, "We've shifted from a linear vendor management approach to strategically aligning with business partners. CUNA Mutual Group has a venture arm investing in FinTech companies. PSCU has also begun to look at ways they can start investing as well. It's exciting to see our partnerships strengthened as we work together to make sure the member experience, from start to finish, is as seamless as possible."
Forbes Best-In-State Banks & Credit Unions Report
As Covid-19 threw the economy into turmoil, forcing banks and credit unions to step up their efforts—never before has the credit union's low-cost financial product offerings and personalized member service been in higher demand.
According to the Forbes article, The Best Banks and Credit Unions in Every State 2020, “Small and midsized banks were some of the most active participants in the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into millions of small businesses nationwide to help them retain staff and survive beyond the pandemic. From banks to credit unions, lenders also help members with relief efforts like temporary forbearance or low-cost lending and refinancing options to take advantage of rock-bottom interest rates. When the economy recovers, these lenders are likely to continue offering the most competitive rates on mortgages, consumer loans, and deposit accounts as activity picks up.”
“But there is a massive divergence on how well financial institutions are at doing this.”
To gauge which firms had the most satisfied customers, Forbes partnered with research firm Statista and surveyed nearly 25,000 U.S. consumers for its Best-In-State Banks & Credit Unions report. Participants were asked to answer twenty questions regarding their financial dealings. Ratings were based on overall recommendations and satisfaction and five subdimensions; trust, terms and conditions, Branch services, digital services, and financial advice.
BCU ranked #1 in Illinois and #5 in Minnesota. The credit union was voted to the top spots based on overall satisfaction, trust, service, product offerings, and financial well-being resources, all the things BCU strives to achieve.
"It's validating to know we're doing the right things,” says Valentine, “and it's also an indication that we need to keep hustling to find where we can do better. The report does a thorough job of seeing if members and customers are getting what they need from their financial institution. I'm proud of our performance based on that criteria because that's been our strategy, what we aim to do for every member, and it's a wonderful feeling to know our members feel we are succeeding."