Going After Growth Goals

Mountain of achievement big success growth comparison upgrade
By Larry Nichols

5 minutes

Outsourcing core, investing in ITMs, implementing online account opening and enhancing online lending serve Park Side Credit Union and its members.

In today’s financial services landscape, credit unions are facing more competition than ever before. Technology is changing how people want to interact with all service providers, including their credit unions. New market entrants are emerging and fintech companies are continuing to vie for members’ business. In the face of these factors, credit unions must find new, innovative ways to enhance their service and attract and retain members. 

Whitefish, Mont.-based Park Side Credit Union found itself in a very competitive region with several other credit unions and banks in the community, all attempting to attract the same pool of consumers. On the heels of a merger with Gateway Credit Union in 2014, Park Side CU was committed to differentiating itself and growing its member base in this saturated landscape. It began to reinvent itself as a progressive, community involved, tech-forward credit union in the Western Montana community.

By investing in technology, planning for younger generations and keeping the member at the center, Park Side CU nearly doubled in size, from $128 million in assets at the end of 2013 to $230 million in assets today.  

Outsourcing to Boost Efficiency

The credit union recognized that investing in technology would allow the institution to reduce manual processes and reallocate existing resources to more growth-focused initiatives. So, Park Side CU decided to outsource its Symitar Episys core processing, as maintaining the hardware and software in house was proving to be time-consuming and resource-heavy.

The credit union carefully considered all of its options for outsourcing partners, and after conducting its thorough due diligence, decided to partner with Member Driven Technologies to host the core. Park Side CU valued the support and perimeter security provided by MDT, which consequently allowed the credit union to boost efficiency and security efforts without hiring additional staff.

“We knew we wanted to implement Symitar’s Episys platform, so then it was simply a matter of choosing an outsourcing partner. MDT had a strong reputation throughout the industry, so we ended up selecting their organization. Ever since, we’ve enjoyed close communication with our MDT team, and they’ve always been extremely clear on deliverables and what to expect. It’s been a strong and valuable partnership,” stated Everett Patterson, CIO.

By choosing to outsource its core needs, Park Side CU’s IT staff can concentrate on other projects, while maintaining control and efficiency with fewer staff than needed if Park Side were running Symitar Episys in house. Now, the Park Side CU staff no longer has to run backups, upgrades, patches or hardware maintenance on a daily basis, saving dozens of hours a month, and can instead focus on implementing more advanced tools and strengthening the member experience. 

Enhancing Services to Attract Members 

With newfound support for its core processing and critical IT operations, the credit union was able to dedicate resources and focus to other strategic initiatives, such as expansion into Missoula, Mont. Missoula is a college town, which created a significant opportunity for the credit union to attract younger members. Park Side CU recognizes that Millennials and Gen Z value convenience and speed above most everything else, which is one of the initial reasons it considered investing in interactive teller machines.

After conducting extensive research and carefully strategizing about how ITMs could expand member service, Park Side CU implemented nine ITMs in 2017 to bridge the member expectation gap. The ITMs serve as a convenient access point for members while creating operational and staff efficiencies to support the CU’s rapid growth. Eight of the ITMs are deployed in the drive-ups, two machines at each of the four branches, while one is deployed as a walk-up at Park Side CU’s Evergreen branch.

With these machines, Park Side CU no longer has to manage drive-ups for each branch, and can instead deliver a quicker, more intuitive experience for members. So far, Park Side CU has been steadily adding members among the 25-34 age segment, but has seen positive feedback from older members that are starting to adopt the ITM service model as well.

As part of its strategic growth campaign, Park Side CU also relaunched enhanced online loan and account opening solutions, through MeridianLink, Costa Mesa, Calif., to better serve members digitally.

The account opening solution allows consumers to join the credit union by filling out an online application from anywhere and on any device, making their first interaction with the credit union seamless and convenient. Such an experience begins the member relationship on a high note. The credit union now additionally provides an online loan application, which enables members to quickly, securely and easily apply for a loan online, with instant decisions and feedback.

With this technology, the CU can compete with online lenders and third parties while offering more reliability and a stronger borrower relationship. Since adding these online services, the credit union has experienced a nearly 16 percent growth in loan count and a 26 percent net loan growth.

Overall, the credit union’s growth initiative over the past four years has proven extremely successful. As a result of these efforts, Park Side CU has seen a more than 17 percent growth in membership, with households that are in the 25-34 age range accounting for the largest growth segment. As the CU works with younger members who may be moving to a new home, paying for college tuition, or making other serious financial decisions, they continue to exceed the local regional market in net member growth.

Because of Park Side CU’s commitment to continually investing in both technology and the member, the credit union is well positioned to continue on its growth trajectory while optimally serving and retaining existing members.

Larry Nichols is president/CEO of MDT, Farmington Hills, Mich.

CUES Learning Portal


Growth | Operations