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Navigating Credit Union Challenges: Insights Gained From Core Consulting

(As Seen on CUInsight) – The core processor is one of the most important products a credit union implements. It houses all member data and drives every other integrated product and service. But, because core processors are so powerful and complex, it can be difficult for credit union staff to stay up to date on all the features and functionality and to know how to best leverage their core to gain their maximum return on investment.

Throughout the credit union community, there are common themes and challenges faced that, collectively, provide valuable insight. Through thorough discovery, analysis, and recommendations, credit unions who choose to engage with core consultants can maximize their core processing capabilities.

Defining core consulting

Core consulting provides credit unions the opportunity to work with and receive advice from a subject matter expert to maximize their core processing investment. The goal of core consulting varies some based on what a credit union wants to achieve. Gaining efficiencies, reviewing specific systems and focus areas (such as general ledger, lending, application processing, or technology adoption), or examining and recommending new products that credit unions may want to adopt are a few examples of what can be covered in core consulting. Core consulting also can be blended with other complementing consults, including business continuity planning to complete two essential planning processes in one consulting series.

Each and every day, core consultants work with the core, continuously gaining new insights as they interact with credit unions and address both common and new challenges credit unions face. These experts are able to support credit unions at various stages post-implementation by being knowledgeable, accessible resources. Core consulting goes beyond the product and gets into strategy, making day-to-day functions easier for staff, and ensuring functionalities are used effectively.

The importance of continuous training and clear documentation

Like many other industries, credit unions have experienced significant change and transition in recent years, resulting in the loss of essential staff and institutional knowledge. Staff departures are compounded by the absence of robust documentation and a centralized repository for procedures. In addition to placing stress on remaining staff, this also exacerbates the challenge of onboarding new staff effectively. One thing every credit union can do is proactively ensure updated procedures are always accessible and capture departing staff’s insights during exit interviews. These are imperative steps to preserve vital knowledge and sustain efficient member service.

Gaining efficiencies

For credit unions that want to gain efficiencies, their consultations often serve as an extension of procedure review. In the collaborative conversations we have during consultations, the following common themes and areas for improvement keep being unearthed. These are steps any credit union can take to gain core efficiencies:

  1. Complete regular check purging: Streamline database size and enhance reporting accuracy.
  2. Address low Reg E adoption and maintenance: Examine potential impacts on fee income.
  3. Introduce underutilized core reports: Uncover missed data insights and trends by using reports that are rarely or not being used.
  4. Increase usage of underutilized tracking records: Enhance efficiency by optimizing core records for reporting ease.
  5. Make use of programming tools: Regardless of which core a credit union is on, they should leverage their programming tools that are tailored to gain further efficiency.
  6. Ensure financial report availability: Optimize transaction register automation and GL historical reports.
  7. Uniformly use transaction and GL comments: Ensure your postings are uniform, identifiable, and searchable by all staff.
  8. Set screen definitions and field restrictions: Facilitate quality control and consistent record-keeping practices.
  9. Keep data clean: Maintaining a clean database not only saves time and resources but also ensures accurate reporting and audit compliance.

Conclusion

Whether it’s better utilizing the tools you already have available or exploring customized solutions tailored to your credit union’s needs, working with a core consultant can yield significant efficiency gains. From general ledger maintenance to user security enhancements, annual data cleanup, or something entirely different, core consulting helps address any friction points encountered in core processing and empowers credit unions to thrive in today’s ever-changing financial market landscape.

About the Author

With over 25 years of business and credit union experience, Jennifer Berry is a go-to core and consulting expert who is skilled in operations, leadership, third-party integrations, and Jack Henry™ Symitar® core conversions/migrations. She is a member of Synergent’s management team and is focused on boosting credit union productivity by identifying efficiencies and supporting vendor integrations that help increase credit union growth and success.