FI Spotlight: Arizona Federal Credit Union


In our latest FI Spotlight we spoke with Aaron Oplinger, Senior Director of eServices & Channel Integration at Arizona Federal Credit Union. Notably, Arizona FCU recently changed their branch model, resulting in astounding increases including 74%  in mobile remote deposit capture penetration, 23% in self-service utilization and 28% for average debit/credit interchange per-customer.  Aaron shared AFCU’s recent initiatives with us and discussed how they are better serving their members and have increased profitability 361% per-customer.


Q: In a few sentences, can you tell us about recent initiatives at Arizona Federal Credit Union? 

In January 2013, Arizona Federal Credit Union redesigned itself internally and externally in support of its mission statement, “to develop and serve an empowered membership through the delivery of financial services and expertise, producing mutually beneficial results.” This included a redesign of our staffing model and physical locations, driving active use of self-service products, reinforcing membership benefits and increasing member participation.

Aaron Oplinger headshot March 2014Q: How did redesigning your staffing model impact the relationship between staff and members?

Our staffing model was changed from a teller/personal banker model to a combined role so that any person within a branch could assist a member with any financial need. The physical branches are also being remodeled to create a more open space that eliminates barriers between staff and members, such as greeting stations, teller lines, etc. Additionally, staff at remodeled locations use wireless tablet PCs that are fully functional with the credit union’s core processor, creating a shoulder to shoulder conversation with members versus being behind a desk or counter.

Q: Specifically, how did you increase the active use of self-service products?

We’ve pre-loaded iPads in every location with our apps as well as 40-50 financial education apps, such as mortgage and loan calculators, auto and home research, valuation and repair apps, gas price apps and more.

Q: How have you found the response amongst your members so far? 

Our members are increasingly becoming familiar and comfortable with our apps.  And, they are also receiving additional value from the financial education tools we provide, supporting our mission statement of providing financial expertise. Early data indicates that the first remodeled branch has the highest penetration rate for both acceptance and usage for Mobile Remote Deposit Capture.

Q: Can you tell us more about your membership rewards? 

As an industry first, Arizona Federal Credit Union began charging $3 each month for membership dues. The dues have shown an increased use of services and we were able to give back $8 million to members from December 2012 through December 2013, with the average actively participating member receiving more than $50, well beyond the $36 per year that is paid.

Want to hear more from Arizona Federal? Like them on Facebook.

Think your FI deserves special recognition? Submit your FI here.

Is Your Financial Services Business Catering to Women? If Not, You’re Missing Out

Emily Doubet, Insights in MarketingA woman’s influence on the financial service category is strong, with 93 percent (or approximately 148 million women) saying they have complete or some influence on the financial services purchase decision. According to a recent Prudential Research Study, women are more in control of their finances than ever. They’re also earning more advanced degrees, filling more leadership roles at work and earning higher salaries than ever before. While 53 percent of women are primary breadwinners, they’re facing a number of challenges when it comes to financial decision-making.

Some firms have, indeed, taken notice. Citigroup, for example, offers a service called Women & Co, which links finance information/resources to various aspects of her life including: career, family, home and lifestyle. Similarly, Prudential has a Women & Money Sector, which includes a “Manage Family & Relationships” resource. While it’s promising that these companies are recognizing the need for such specializations, the question remains: Are they talking to her effectively?

Insights in Marketing, LLC, a marketing research consultancy based in the Chicago area, believes financial services businesses are struggling to effectively communicate with women. In our survey of 1,300 women and 200 men about which of the top brands effectively market their products and services, only 4 percent of women say Charles Schwab markets their products/services effectively to them and, only 3 percent say TD Ameritrade markets their products/services effectively to them. According to the Harvard Business Review, the financial services industry is the least sympathetic industry to women—and one in which companies stand to gain the most if they can change their approach.

Women have different needs, values and personalities.  Insights in Marketing defined five different psychological profiles (FBI ProfilesTM) that women fall under, and each of those profiles is designed to help businesses communicate more effectively with women. For example, a Profile 1 woman accounts for 26 percent of all women, and is the profile most engaged in the financial services category. These women have the highest household income and image, premium quality and convenience are important to her.

When it comes to finance, these women are more likely than others to:

  • Stay up to date by reading financial news/financial publications
  • Discuss her knowledge of the industry with others and recommend products/services she likes to other people, but also likes learning about financial products or services from others
  • Save her money for a specific purpose
  • Have others seek her advice when it comes to financial matters
  • And most importantly, she finds the rollercoaster (ups and downs) of the financial markets exciting, and is more willing to take risks when investing in hopes of a high return on investment

So how do you win her loyalty?

First, financial services organization need to show her that they recognize the need to talk to her directly. Let her know that you care about her needs and want to help. You should also:

  • Make her feel important and valued (don’t talk down to her). She is smart & savvy
  • Exhibit stellar customer service; make her feel important and special
  • She is busy so save her time
  • Show her how your product/service fits easily and conveniently into her life. For example, show her the ease and capabilities available via her smartphone
  • Simplify your offerings. Provide easy quality measures or comparisons on the bank’s website, and explain what separates your bank from other brands. If not, she will find it on someone else’s site
  • Make sure the sales team is well trained to identify her sensitivities
  • Explain any service benefits, such as first-time service discounts, perks/rewards, etc. Assure her that you are at her disposal and always available to help her. Small gestures will go a long way

Women offer an enormous opportunity for those in the financial services industry, but first, you must know what she wants and how to give it to her. Start a dialogue today, and you may discover your most loyal customer, yet.


Emily Doubet is the Consumer Intelligence Manager at Insights in Marketing. She has more than 8 years of supplier-side marketing research experience and has worked with some of the world’s leading brands at both the domestic and global levels. 

To learn more about Insights in Marketing and their Female Behavioral Insight Profiles (FBI ProfilesTM) visit For more ideas on how to elevate your marketing to women, download Insights in Marketing’s latest eBook “Getting Women to Buy:  Better Insights to Transform Your Marketing” here.

FI Spotlight: USAlliance FCU Sees Cross-Selling Success


Banks and credit unions are always looking for new ways to cross sell solutions and encourage adoption of existing profitable services. For our most recent FI Spotlight, we spoke with Kris VanBeek, president & CEO of USAlliance Federal Credit Union. Kris shared insights on the implementation of Micronotes Cross Sell™ and encouraging further engagement with members.


KrisVanBeekCEOUSAllianceQ: In a few sentences, can you tell me about USAlliance Federal Credit Union?

USAlliance Federal Credit Union is one of the nation’s fastest growing credit unions. We were founded in 1966 as a credit union for IBM employees.  In less than fifty years, we’ve become a full-service financial institution with over $800 million in assets and over 60,000 members located throughout the globe.  We‘ve accomplished this through an extensive portfolio of progressive products and services all designed with one objective in mind – to help members achieve their personal financial goals.

We have big plans for the future. The key to achieving them is by adopting the most innovative and efficient technologies including online delivery and communication channels to support the needs of our growing member community.


Q: You recently implemented Micronotes Cross Sell™. Can you tell us a bit about the technology and the drive behind implementing a cross-sell technology?

Sure, but first let’s talk about the business drivers that led us to Micronotes Cross-Sell.

Financial institutions are keenly aware of the fact that the average consumer owns seven banking products yet only two are likely to be from the same institution. Realizing the enormous potential in cross-selling, the entire industry is focused on finding a way to anticipate when a customer is in the market for a new banking product and then making a compelling offer at the right time to convert the lead into a sale.

While cross-selling is a top priority, executing on the strategy presents a challenge because traditional marketing approaches such as direct mail, banner ads and in-statement offers lack the personalized, one-on-one experience that customers get when they come into a branch office. Also, those approaches tend to market to the masses as opposed to individuals, therefore resulting in a low ROI.

Given these factors, we started to explore a different approach to cross-selling and that’s when we discovered Micronotes Cross-Sell. The product was designed specifically for financial institutions to more effectively cross-sell through the online banking channel. It does this by combining big data with one-on-one interviews to recreate the in-branch experience.

For example, imagine you’re incurring a series of auto repairs and rental car expenses over a period of three months. When you go online to do your banking, you may be presented with a dialog box that asks, “Are you thinking about buying a car?” The conversation would then continue for about 18 seconds, ultimately leading to a personalized offer.

Micronotes Cross-Sell is able to do this by analyzing customers’ financial needs, asking relevant questions, listening to customers’ responses, providing advice, and making a relevant offer within seconds.

Q: What successes have you seen with the Micronotes Cross-Sell program?

We conducted a series of one-month digital marketing campaigns to a limited audience of our online customers. More specifically, we targeted 11,958 of our online banking customers and yielded the following results:

  • Interviewed 15 percent of our online banking population.
  • Converted 50 percent of interviewees into warm leads, generating 1,098 qualified leads.
  • Converted 8 percent of loan product leads to sales.

Based on these results, we’re continuing to develop campaigns using Micronotes Cross-Sell that will be made available to all of our online customers.

Q: Do you find other methods of member’s engagement such as social media beneficial to interacting with members/customers?

Yes. However, what’s important to note about member engagement through these channels is that immediacy and customer service must work together.

For example, if a customer has an inquiry, they should get a response from a live person immediately, and that answer should be delivered through the member’s preferred channel, for example, this may be during an online banking session or even through Twitter.

On the other side, it’s also our responsibility to proactively present our members with information that’s relevant to their financial needs. This may include operational updates, special announcements, and offers on new products that will ultimately save members time and money.

Q: What advice do you have for credit unions looking to more effectively cross-sell their solutions?

Given the continued rise in online banking, I would recommend bringing your technology and marketing teams together as you create a cross-selling strategy that taps into the growing needs of this audience. I would also recommend putting Micronotes Cross-Sell at the top of the consideration list because, honestly, it’s the most effective cross-selling tool we’ve ever used.


Want to hear more from USAlliance FCU? Follow them on Facebook.

Think your FI deserves special recognition? Submit your FI here.


Kris VanBeek is President & CEO of USAlliance Federal Credit Union. Prior to leading USAlliance, he was Senior Vice President of Information Systems and Risk Management at Digital Federal Credit Union in Massachusetts. His career encompasses a broad spectrum of experience in fields such as e-commerce, real estate, commodity markets and financial services. He is also an entrepreneur, having founded and led two companies. Kris is a frequent contributor to industry magazines on his areas of expertise and serves on several advisory boards.


FI Spotlight: Star Choice Credit Union


Molly McCurdy Star Choice Credit UnionIn our latest FI Spotlight, spoke with Molly McCurdy, Marketing Coordinator for Star Choice Credit Union. Molly has been the Marketing Coordinator for Star Choice Credit Union since February 2012, and has been utilizing social media to reach a younger demographic in hopes of lowering the average age of the members at Star Choice Credit Union. We connected with Molly to talk about how Star Choice is engaging members, using social media to drive more intimate customer relationships and recent social campaigns like their Minnesota Wild Hockey promotion.

Q: In a few sentences, can you tell me about Star Choice Credit Union?

What began as the Minneapolis Star Employees Credit Union in 1931 has flourished into Star Choice Credit Union, a strong, healthy, stable financial institution. We are dedicated to making sure members love what we do, and carry out the tradition of people-helping-people by helping our members build strong financial futures and achieve their financial goals.

Q: Do you find social media beneficial to interacting with members?

We have been using social media extensively, especially in the past year, to connect with our current and prospective members. It gives our members another outlet to communicate directly with us, allowing them to post questions and comments about Star Choice as well as expressing their appreciation for our array of products and member services. Social media has allowed us to create a likeable “personality” for our credit union and allows our members to interact with us in a way that isn’t strictly business-related, which they seem to really enjoy.

Q:  Let’s talk social. Star Choice CU is on Facebook and Twitter. Do you view social channels as a good way to interact with customers? Do your members use one platform more heavily than another to engage with you? Do you see a difference in the demographics that use Facebook v. Twitter?  

Social media is an extremely great way to interact with our members. Our Facebook page is generally more member-based, while we interact with a lot of other credit unions and business using Twitter. Our Facebook demographic seems to be younger and more actively engaged than our Twitter page. I utilize Twitter mainly to interact and get insights on what other credit unions and financial institutions are doing, while Facebook is used more heavily and primarily for interacting with current and prospective members of Star Choice.

Q: Star Choice recently launched a sweepstakes encouraging Facebook fans to send their information to win tickets to see the Minnesota Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche.  How has your Minnesota Wild Hockey Ticket promotion helped encourage more engagement?

Since we started the Minnesota Wild Hockey promotion, we went from about 460 Facebook fans to around 530. Not only did we increase the number of “likes” on our Facebook page, but the promotion has sparked a lot of excitement and engagement on our page. People were liking and sharing our posts, encouraging their friends to enter into the ticket drawing, and, as a result, our reach increased dramatically from 687 people towards the beginning on February to around 1,700 this past week.

Q: Are you looking to drive engagement to your credit union within a certain demographic?

The national average age for credit unions is 47 years old, and we are currently at around 46 years old. Our goal is to continue to lower that age, and get the word out about credit unions to a younger demographic and social media is doing a great job helping us achieve that. Seventy five percent of our Facebook demographic is between the ages of 18-44, and that is ultimately the demographic we are trying to reach, so we are right on track.

Q: Let’s talk mobile. You offer mobile banking to your members. What platforms do you offer (iPhone, Android)? Have you seen a surge in mobile banking usage in the last year?

We offer mobile banking to any member who has an internet-enabled mobile device. Last year at this time we had about 1,800 members utilizing our mobile banking services, and right now we have almost 2,000 members taking advantage of our mobile banking. Our mobile banking usage is definitely continuing to increase.


Want to hear more from Star Choice Credit Union? Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Think your FI deserves special recognition? Submit your FI here.


FI Spotlight: McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union – Part One

McGraw-Hill Federal Credit UnionFor our latest FI spotlight, we had the opportunity to speak with Shawn Gilfedder, President and CEO of McGraw-Hill Federal Credit Union, on the eve of one of their Financial Literacy Series seminars in January. Shawn shared insights on innovative uses of mobile solutions, “Financial Wellness” and its impact on consumers, and how social media plays into their communications strategy.

Check out the video below for part one of our video interview.

Stay tuned for another upcoming video with McGraw-Hill FCU or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Think your FI deserves special recognition? Submit your FI here

FI Spotlight: Travis Credit Union

Travis Credit Union_LOGO

For our most recent FI Spotlight, had the opportunity to speak with Shannon Wilson, e-Marketing Channel Specialist at Travis Credit Union, a $2 billion credit union serving 12 counties in Northern California. Shannon shared some information with us about their 10 Grand For 1 Fan Facebook contest, which encourages Travis Credit Union Facebook Fans to interact with the financial institution. The goal of TCU’s 10 Grand For 1 Fan was inspired by Shannon to take TCU’s online presence to the top of the credit union industry. Of course, we wanted to hear more because, as Shannon said it best, “with 5,258 new Facebook fans in just more than two weeks – what’s not to ‘Like’?”

Shannon Wilson Travis CU



Q: You recently launched your Facebook contest 10 Grand For 1 Fan. Can you give us an overview the contest? What inspired this social media campaign?

Travis Credit Union is consistently ranked among the top 10% of credit unions in the social media space. I thought, “How can we attract a wave of new fans and engage the ones we already have?” Thus, we came up with the idea for followers to enter the 10 Grand For 1 Fan contest. I focused on three elements in this promotion: make it inviting, repeatedly engaging and, of course, measurable.


Q: What has your member response been to the 10 Grand For 1 Fan Giveaway? When will the winners be announced?

TCU members have really begun to interact with us more socially since the promotion was launched. We’ve received several positive comments, creative ideas and member testimonials. To create more enthusiasm during the contest, we’re giving away weekly prizes for the first eight weeks on Monday mornings. Additionally, if the TCU facebook page reaches 50,000 likes by March 31st, 2013, we will give one lucky fan $10,000.

Q: Has membership grown significantly during the campaign? Has it increased engagement on your Facebook page?

Travis Credit Union is seeing a positive growth in its membership due to the social engagement of the campaign. In addition, it has seen growth through all of its social media outlets, with the highest growth on Facebook: a 145% increase in followers and a 99.01% increase in engagement since the promotion began.

Q: Are you looking to drive engagement with your credit union within a certain demographic?

Travis Credit Union is looking to drive engagement with those between the ages of 18-55 years of age. We also want to build a reputation with those younger folks that will be our future members.

Q: Do you see the 10 Grand For 1 Fan Giveaway driving more in-branch users to digital solutions and vice versa?

The end goal of this promotion is ultimately engagement that will lead to the growth of our membership online and into the branches for more complex loan products.

Q: How are you planning to continue to expand your digital banking offerings for members?

Travis Credit Union is always looking ahead to expand our digital banking offerings to our members, including through mobile applications, online loan applications, and other financial services. The goal is to make our products and services as seamless and easy to use as possible for all our members.

Shannon Wilson has 10 years of experience in marketing and is currently driving the online marketing efforts at Travis Credit Union. Mrs. Wilson’s experiences includes: online and social media, search marketing, email and online CRM, online promotions and acquisition, user experience, online conversion, performance based campaigns and the list goes on.


Want to hear more from Travis Credit Union? Follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

Think your FI deserves special recognition? Submit your FI here.


Imagining a Cashless Future

*This post originally appeared on the Andera Blog

Working for a financial software company, I’m often struck by how fast things are changing. Financial innovations come in many shapes and sizes from many different places, but for the most part they all follow a general trend: they turn physical processes into digital ones. The so-called “payments revolution” has often made me wonder what will happen when innovation manages to displace the most physical aspect of finance, cash.

In the financial technology world, cash is so uncool that hardly anyone talks about it anymore. The alternative to a mobile payment is a debit card, and the alternative to a debit card is a prepaid card. ATMs get a shout out every once in a while, but that 3-letter acronym comes up less often than either P2P or RDC.

Perhaps that’s because most of us believe, at least partially, that cash is on its way out. Michael Woodford, one of the world’s preeminent monetary economists and author of a paper called “Monetary Policy in a World Without Money,” put it this way:

“It is possible to imagine that in the coming century the development of electronic payments systems could not only substitute for the use of currency in transactions, but also eliminate any advantage of clearing payments through accounts held at the central bank.” (Interest and Prices, 2003).

That’s economist for “At some point, there will be no cash.” The idea makes sense; I use my debit card for almost everything, and when I need to repay a friend or split the bill, I prefer to send P2P payments from my mobile banking app. I really only keep cash in my wallet for two reasons: the local bar and the bagel place on the corner. Even most food trucks in my area use Square. That said, we’re still a ways out from totally getting rid of the nasty green paper.

When I imagine a cashless future, I foresee three things:

1) Technology will make things a little easier.

When they were first introduced in the 1970s, ATMs were a huge leap forward. Consumers could save time they previously spent visiting the branch to withdraw cash. They could choose to withdraw more frequently and feel safer carrying less cash in their pockets. The spread of credit, then debit, and now prepaid cards has had the same effect. Like most participants in the financial technology space, I’m absolutely gaga about mobile payments, and can’t wait until I can leave the house with only my mobile phone. It’s also easy to imagine how advancements in cyber-security will gradually reduce the risk of identity theft. No hassle, no wallet, no risk – what a world that will be.

2) Banks will consolidate – or evolve.

Right now, many of the features that banks compete on, including ATM networks, branch networks, free checks, and early “cashless” technologies like P2P payments, will, in a totally cashless economy, become moot points. As money moves to the cloud, locality will matter less and less, and community financial institutions sheltered by brick-and-mortar monopolies will face competition from every corner of the country. Hundreds of banks have closed or merged with national banks since the financial crisis, and the onward marching wave of technological change will only continue to whittle down the list of U.S. financial institutions. The ones that fail to adopt the latest mobile and online technologies will go first.

As I see it, the banks of the future will live or die on the success of two things: their lending strategy and the quality of their customer experience. Evaluating the risk and return of loans and investments will continue to be difficult long after cash is gone. As it is today, some banks will be better at it than others. If they can collect more from loans, they will be able to offer more on deposit accounts and attract customers away from competitive institutions.

By customer experience, I don’t mean the ease of withdrawing or depositing money. In a cashless economy, neither of those transactions will take place. Instead, I predict that institutions will partner or expand to offer a wider range of financial services, such as brokerage, insurance, and financial planning under one roof or rather, on one website.

3) The popular notion of money will change

I am most curious to see what will happen to the idea of money in a cashless future. When I say money, the first image that probably comes to mind is a green dollar bill, and most people conceive of money as a limited, concrete asset like gold that we chase around and fight over and trade for things like food and shoes. Money is actually a bit more complicated, and its supply has as much to do with credit as it does with the US Treasury printing press. (When you hear, “The Fed is printing money,” what it’s actually doing is manipulating the banking system into lending and borrowing a little more.)  In a cashless economy, how will we talk about money? Will our movies still feature the symbolic suitcase full of 100 dollar bills? Will central bankers and policy wonks still talk about ” the money supply“? Will we spend more with nothing tangible to hold onto or will we spend less when every transaction is digitially traceable (I’m thinking about PFM here)? I’m not sure.

A cashless future may be a long way off, but I genuinely believe that I could be living in it before I die. I’m only 22, so that’s about 60 years. 60 years ago, Walt founded Disney, Walton founded Wal-Mart, and most of the banks on Wall Street were already decades old. Perhaps its time to start preparing.


Melanie Freidrichs: Melanie likes writing and data. She “coordinates,” among other things, Andera’s blog, Andera’s webinars and Andera’s twitter feed.  In addition to financial technology and marketing, her favorite topics to blog about include financial regulation, monetary policy, and increasing access to financial services.

She is a member of the first class of Venture for America, a two-year fellowship that seeks to revitalize American urban centers through entrepreneurship by matching recent college graduates with start-ups in low-income cities.

Melanie grew up in Bethesda Maryland, and received an A.B. in Economics from Brown University in 2012.  She thinks Providence is a pretty cool town.