“The world is too complex to do it alone. We need a strong network of resources to get it done.” –Todd Mason, President/CEO, Synergent
When it comes to evolving FinTech, credit unions need to stay up-to-date on the channels their members are using, ensure the most relevant products and services are on those channels, and need to have strong partnerships to accomplish these goals, all while providing unsurpassed member service. Synergent recently hosted the 10th Annual Technology Workshop in Portland, ME, in conjunction with sponsors Symitar, ProfitStars, Verafin, and MeridianLink. 87 attendees representing a record 46 credit unions from 10 states gathered to network and hear informative presentations on the latest tips and trends from industry experts.
Todd Mason, President/CEO of Synergent, opened the day by sharing a message of mission, vision, partnership, and focusing on the member. Mason also stressed the importance of being where credit union members are and delivering quality services equally, regardless of if they are being served in the branch, online, or via mobile device. “Members are front and center,” stressed Mason. “As more and more technology is member facing, we need to think about the tools and services that we deliver.”
Mason also spoke about success and how partnerships between Synergent and the credit unions that it serves share flexible definitions of what success is. “That word ‘success’ is pretty important,” said Mason. “It’s not to grow, it’s not to be more financially strong, it’s not credit union specific. And that’s on purpose because you need to define what your measure of success is. We as an organization need to be flexible enough, nimble enough, to be able to serve you and help you succeed, however you define that.”
Keynote Speaker Mark Sievewright, Founder/CEO of Sievewright & Associates, brought over 30 years of financial services experience as an industry thought-leader. His new research and consulting firm was launched in April 2017 and focuses on providing credit unions with strategic insights and trusted advice. Sievewright’s presentation, “Global Trends Influencing the Future of Financial Services,” focused on how today’s members want credit unions that are both “high-tech and high-touch.” While online transactions continue to dominate, members, especially Millennials, want to know that the branch is there when they have a particularly complex question.
Even in the evolving mix of global trends, credit unions remain a standout choice. “There are thousands of FinTech companies, but they don’t have your scale,” stated Sievewright. “They love your scale, your distribution, your relationships your brand…They want access to that and they want to do that on friendly terms.” He urged attendees to choose collaboration as we continue to move forward.
On a macroglobal scale, Sievewright shared four trends for credit unions to watch for:
- The business model we are in is actually changing. This is changing every day in how we run credit unions and who we compete against. No longer is it just traditional brick-and-mortar financial institutions. Disruptors such as SoFi, Square, and even Wal-Mart have applied for or have obtained bank status, meaning they are able to accept deposits and make loans. Rocket can clear a mortgage online in less than 8 minutes and quickly have risen to be a top 30 lender.
- Technology is having a profound impact on our business. Business is moving faster than our ability to keep up, with the only thing moving faster than technology being consumer expectations.
- FinTech firms are dramatically impacting consumer expectations. New entrants are challenging the incumbents and new forms of distinction are needed.
- Demographic change is particularly significant in the U.S. With over 50% of the world today being less than 30 years old, the rise of the mobile first generation is forcing innovation through technology.
Engaging presentations from partner vendors Symitar, ProfitStars and Verafin were a crowd favorite. Symitar provided their forward-thinking technology roadmap, highlighting that they are building for new technologies that are still being developed. They are focusing on three trends:
- Talent Retention
- Tech Differentiation
“You make us better,” concluded Bannister. “We’re doing our best to make you better as well.”
“I had no idea how much was going on in the background with Symitar, with the actual core,” shared workshop attendee Alaina Daisey, CFO of Katahdin Federal Credit Union. “As the end user, you don’t think about any of that, you don’t think about how that affects, or how important that is, to be able to serve members.”
Brad Dahlman, Senior Product and Consulting Services Manager for ProfitStars, spoke about their solution for CECL, highlighting that most credit union’s CECL goals are to remain in compliance, minimize reserves, have accuracy of model predications, and the ability to use CECL results to drive business decisions. Jacqueline Rideout, Customer Success Manager for Verafin, presented “Fighting Financial Crime Together,” focusing on the different types of fraud, such as ACH, deposit, check, loan, and identity fraud and their FRAMLx (cross-institutional fraud and anti-money laundering) approach, as well as their programs identifying specific types of fraud, such as funnel account activity and human trafficking.
The afternoon focused on management from each of Synergent’s divisions providing updates on products, services and partnerships. Of particular interest was the presentation given by Tyler Hudson demonstrating eReceipts and how they work. This technology allows for members to choose how their receipts are delivered: paper, email, or both. It also allows for a marketing opportunity for credit unions to reach their members and reduces costs associated with printing and mailing.
The day closed with Synergent’s Gary Glenn, Executive Vice President, and Ben Jordan, Vice President of Technology Services, leading the Q&A discussion on Synergent’s Product and Service Development. “A big thanks to all of our partners,” stated Glenn. “They make Synergent who they are today.”
Congratulations to raffle winner Tim Felt, Director of Operations for St. Lawrence CU who won an iPad Pro!
Mike Lawson conducted numerous interviews at the Technology Workshop for CU Broadcast: