Breakouts, REACHtalks, Spark Sessions, and GWLN Leadership Update

(Clockwise): Michelle Hunter of CU of SoCal; Erica Dias of SAFE CU; Royce Ngiam of Partners FCU; and Larry Palochik of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues
(Clockwise): Michelle Hunter of CU of SoCal; Erica Dias of SAFE CU; Royce Ngiam of Partners FCU; and Larry Palochik of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

As the second day of REACH 2020 lifted off, separate breakout sessions touched on “The New Marketing Paradigm for 2020 and Beyond” and the “Evolving Security Landscape” — just two of several mini-discussions. Others included insights from the Global Women’s Leadership Network (GWLN) and unique conversations on board governance, reputation risk, mortgage innovation, navigating members’ lives during COVID-19, contactless solutions, and business automation.

What CU of SoCal Chief Communications and Experience Officer Michelle Hunter said during the marketing paradigm breakout session seemed to sum up other participants’ experience with member engagement during the COVID-19 crisis this past year.

“We need to know what members’ needs are before they even ask, and we need to be prepared to answer their questions and solve their problems before they happen,” she said. “We are going deep into our data warehouse to solve their problems and questions ahead of time, and we’re communicating with them through our digital channels. We want a stronger dialogue with members so we can be there for them when they need us most.”

Panelists shared experiences of how adapting quickly to a very time-compressed and socially-distanced COVID-19 banking environment changed engagement and communication with existing and new members, and how digital marketing channels helped facilitate these interactions.

“Online, we can digitally do so much in a Zoom meeting with members,” said Royce Ngiam, vice president of marketing and business development for Partners FCU. “We can see their driver’s licenses, show them how to remote-deposit capture, work through applications, troubleshoot, and so much more. The future possibilities are exciting.”

All panelists said the pandemic is fast-forwarding a greater share of digital engagement with members. Technology over the past few years was already doing this, but members who are already highly engaged digitally have plowed deeper due to COVID-19 social distancing and convenient, quick banking needs.

“We reached out in advance to get them the service they needed,” said Erica Dias, vice president of marketing and communications at SAFE CU. “We needed to know what our members needed before they asked us. And we put a huge focus on having empathy with them. Many were going through ‘firsts’ with the type of financial relief and other services they needed due to the pandemic.”

In the security landscape breakout session, StickleyOnSecurity CEO Jim Stickley pointed out that corporations don’t have the time to research “why” they get hacked each instance it happens. Time is money, and sometimes they are put between a rock and a hard spot to get their computer network systems “unlocked” to continue doing business as usual — so they “pay the ransom” from a ransomware cyberattack.

Whether it’s ransomware, malware, phishing or other types of cyberattacks, credit unions’ core processors and data storage are extremely valuable to hackers today. “Whatever vulnerability they use to get into your core processer, it will be a vulnerability in other systems within your entire network so they can knock you off,” Stickley said.

He said credit unions should set up “zero trust” networks so that computers and systems don’t even talk internally to each other unless absolutely needed. If a credit union employee can communicate with another system on the network, then a hacker can too (if the hacker breaks in from the outside).

“Eventually you employees will get malware on their system, just like any organization over time,” he added. “Back-ups and redundancies are great, but with these attacks these days, it comes down to eliminating how fast hackers can spread their attack to all computers on your networks and systems. The idea is to create a zero-vulnerability environment.”

During the GWLN session, California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra reminisced on the pillars she lives by.

“I stopped waiting for someone else to see me, I did my job, and I volunteered at every opportunity,” Dykstra said. “Most importantly, I began to mentor other women around me.”

She said women in credit unions need to share their knowledge and power. When she started in credit unions, women were competing with each other — but “sharing our knowledge and power” makes everyone better.

“Everything matters, and that’s really important,” Dykstra added. “Always do the right thing. Pursue growth and learning. Deliver excellence in everything you do. Be authentic, grateful and humble. Celebrate the small accomplishments. And most importantly, generously give to others.” 

You can watch these breakout sessions, REACHtalks, spark sessions, Global Women’s Leadership Network discussion, and also catch the entire conference in real-time or on-demand! Click here to experience this exclusive virtual conference on Oct. 26, 28 and 29, and Nov. 4 and 5. REACH 2020 is one of the credit union industry’s premier annual events, drawing leaders and system partners from across California, Nevada and the United States.

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