“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

With “The Power of Partnership” as the timely theme of the 10th Annual Technology Workshop, a record number of credit unions who partner with Synergent were represented at the event. On September 29, representatives from 46 credit unions and 10 states traveled to the Westin Harborview in Portland, Maine, to hear from industry experts.

“Today is about partnerships, and we are glad to have our partners here from across the country today,” stated Todd Mason, President/CEO of 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. The workshop, sponsored by Synergent—as well as partners Symitar, ProfitStars, Verafin, and MeridianLink—agilely addressed these key points, focusing on topics such as global trends, Symitar’s technology roadmap, CECL, fraud prevention, and OFAC.  Synergent updates on product and service development, and a Q&A session led by Synergent’s Executive Vice President Gary Glenn and Vice President of Technology Services Ben Jordan, rounded out the day.

Mission, Vision, and Member Service

Synergent President/CEO Todd Mason welcomed attendees to the workshop, where he shared Synergent’s new mission: To help credit unions succeed, and improve the financial lives of members, as well as its new vision: Right time, Right place, Right service. He focused on 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 we serve 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.”

Global FI Trends & The Future

Keynote Speaker Mark Sievewright, Founder/CEO of Sievewright & Associates, with over 30 years of financial services experience as an industry thought-leader, has held senior leadership roles at companies that include HSBC, MasterCard International, and Fiserv, where until March 2017, he served as Vice Chairman and President of the company’s Credit Union Solutions division. 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. On a macroglobal scale, he shared four trends for credit unions to watch for:

  1. The business model we are in is actually changing. It 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 has quickly risen to be a top 30 lender.
  2. 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.
  3. FinTech firms are dramatically impacting consumer expectations. New entrants are challenging the incumbents and new forms of distinction are needed.
  4. Demographic change is particularly significant in the U.S. With over 50% of the world today being younger than 30 years old, the rise of the mobile first generation is forcing innovation through technology.

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.

Symitar’s Technology Roadmap

Symitar’s Solutions Consultant Meg Bannister outlined the “Technology Roadmap” they plan to follow, highlighting that they are building for new technologies that are still being developed. They are focusing on three trends:

  1. Outsourcing
  2. Talent Retention
  3. Tech Differentiation

Symitar also highlighted their goals of remaining the core of choice, enabling customers to become member service platforms (exhibited through the partnerships between Symitar, CUs, and Synergent as a service bureau), and helping to grow the credit union industry.

“You make us better,” concluded Bannister. “We’re doing our best to make you better as well.”

CECL & Fraud Prevention

Brad Dahlman, Senior Product and Consulting Services Manager for ProfitStars, spoke about their solution for CECL, highlighting that most credit unions’ CECL goals are to remain in compliance, minimize reserves, have accuracy of model predictions, and have the ability to use CECL results to drive business decisions. Jacqueline Rideout, Customer Success Manager for Verafin, presented “Fighting Financial Crime Together.” Her presentation focused on the different types of fraud, such as ACH, deposit, check, loan, and identity fraud.  She also spoke to 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.

Bringing it all Together

The afternoon focused on management from Synergent’s Technology Services and Payment Services.  Rebekah Higgins, VP of Payment Services, provided statistics on the growth of transaction volumes, including EMV and tokenized transactions.  She also discussed roadmaps for P2P and fraud monitoring. The presentation given by Tyler Hudson, Team Lead of Programming and Analysis in CU Services, demonstrating the new eReceipts product and how it works was a big hit. 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 new Search feature for File Maintenance History that enables credit unions to search history for a text string and have it display all hits was also of particular interest.

Attendees had positive feedback to share about the workshop. “I had no idea how much was going on in the background with Episys,” shared workshop attendee Alaina Daisey, CFO of Katahdin Federal Credit Union. “With Synergent, you don’t have to think about any of that, you don’t have to think about how that affects things, or how important that is to be able to serve members.”