Autumn 2019
Community Strong Since 1941
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One Small Step for Technology, One Giant Leap for Member Experience
Andrew Bertrand, Chief Information Officer We’ve come a long way since we first opened our doors in 1941 and the way we do business has changed dramatically.   While we still take deposits and make loans; technologies such as mobile and online banking have reshaped our industry.  Banking is now gearing up towards a third wave with automation, artificial intelligence, and analytics.   We’ve even seen a rise in financial institutions that don’t even have a physical branch, something that would have been unheard of 10 years ago!

These newly emerging financial technology companies or 'FinTech’s” are competing more and more for your wallet.  Right now you have almost unlimited options out there and we realize that as a Credit Union we need to stay competitive in order to keep your business.  And in order to stay competitive we had to change our mindset. This new mindset is that we are no longer just a credit union, instead we need to focus on being a technology company that provides financial services.
Don’t worry our branches aren’t going anywhere!  At OCCU we’re always looking for ways to make it easier and faster for you to manage your finances.  Unfortunately we’ve been held back by technology that in some instances were first implemented back in 1986.

Technology has advanced rapidly since then.  Larger databases, faster communications and the ability to process information have improved drastically.  One of the (many) things the credit union has been doing this year is looking for ways to bring some of this technology into its own operations.   After years of research and talking with other industry leaders. We’re proud to announce that we are now implementing some of these new technologies right here at OCCU. 
Some of the areas we wanted to make improvements in are:
  • Faster and more reliable network between branches and mobile/online services.
  • Improved performance and up-time of our server infrastructure.
  • Streamlining online and mobile delivery channels to members without needing multiple logins.
  • Improved automation of daily processes.
  • Increased use of analytics and artificial intelligence in business decisions.
We wanted to make sure our network was as robust as possible to make reliable 24/7 banking a reality.  This meant we needed to re-evaluate our systems in order to minimize downtime.   As you may be aware, our area is prone to wind storms and freak weather (and in one case a rogue lawnmower!) that can cause power outages, network disruptions and other challenges.  Considering this we are implementing a new network design that is automated with enhanced monitoring and increased security.   This means that the next time a rogue lawnmower takes out a fiber optic box on the side of the road… our branches will still be connected to our datacenter and no one will be the wiser.

Another area in which the credit union has focused its efforts is Data Analytics.  With analytics we are able to have business information right at our fingertips daily.  Instead of waiting until month-end reports, we can analyze things such as: how many loans we did the day before, how OCCU trends compared to the industry, what will be the projected loss on a loan we underwrite today, etc.

These advances have allowed us to make quick decisions such as when we found out that Simpson and Olympic Panel were closing their doors.   That weekend after the announcement we were able to pinpoint which members which would be affected and if they had a loan with us.  This allowed us to reach out to those affected members for workshops, loan modifications, and how much money we would need to set aside in case those loans did in fact default.  (We are happy to report there were no losses from those closures!)  This is just one example of the many ways that analytics is reshaping how we do business. Our goal is to continue building on our analytics to aide in decreasing costs, increasing efficiencies and most importantly to better serve our members.

OCCU is looking towards the future so that we will be able to quickly react to the market and implement new technologies as they come about.  There may be some growing pains along the way.  We thank you for your patience in advance and we’re looking forward to growing with technology and creating our future together.
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