January 2017 marks the first anniversary of Steve Gilman taking the position of HTFFFCU’s President and CEO. What did he accomplish during his first year? What is he planning for 2017? We've got the inside scoop!
When we met in April you talked about HTFFFCU’s redesigned website and new mobile apps. It’s the end of December now. The new website is up and running, you’ve introduced the SecurLOCK™ Equip App; it seems like everything is coming together.
Yes, 2016 has been a busy year with several new technological improvements rolled out to our members. In addition to a redesigned website and new debit card alert system, we have just finished the process of updating our online loan application to make it more convenient for our members. This new online application will soon be available on our website. It is available as part of the new online banking system, which we’ll roll-out to members in early 2017.
2016 was also a year to begin the remodeling of our main office on Kolb Street, which is expected to take approximately 6 months. The main office was built in 1982. It was time for a fresh look.
It’s been your first year as HTFFFCU’s President and CEO. Are you happy with all these changes?
Yes, 2016 was a successful year with many changes that will serve us well into the future. While we are pleased with our accomplishments during the year, there were disappointments.
One of our goals for 2016 was to launch a financial literacy program for our teenage members, called “Tens & Thousands.” The program is a series of three money management workshops designed to build money management skills for young people headed out to college. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough participants signed up to run the workshops.
Do you know what happened?
We suspect that scheduling might have been inconvenient. We planned each workshop on a regular business day between 9 AM and 12 PM in the summer. We think it proved too difficult for many parents. This year we’re going to try again with a different approach.
We would love to facilitate the financial education of our members. And this brings me to another item on the list of 2016 missed opportunities. One of HTFFFCU’s primary goals is to save our members money. That’s why we offered an auto recapture promotion during which members can refinance their auto loans with us and get some extra cash in the process. This was an extremely successful promotion and many members were able to take part in it.
So how is this a missed opportunity?
Because initially those members financed their cars elsewhere, often paying higher interest rates for many months before deciding to refinance with us. We would like those members to be aware of our vehicle loan programs and come to us first. In many cases, we will be able to save them both money and the trouble of refinancing. To make it more convenient for our members, we will be introducing a new product, “Blaze Check.” It’s going to streamline the process of buying a new car.
In short, a qualifying member will be issued a blank check up to a pre-approved amount. He or she can then use this check at approved dealerships to buy their car. We are going to release more details soon.
So you’re going to start 2017 with a blaze. Is the excitement going to continuously increase?
We hope so! We are planning to introduce more exciting products and services during 2017. It’s important that we listen to our members’ needs and that we respond. Apart from the Blaze Check, I am pleased to announce that we are launching our new online and mobile banking system in March 2017.
What is so exciting about this new system?
For starters, it’s going to be optimized. Members will be able to use it on any device. We are going to have enhanced thumbprint security for Apple users, and as soon as it’s available, for Android users too. This system will be much easier to navigate and it will include all the services that we offer at the credit union. We’re also adding “FirePay,” which is a person to person payment system. It will allow members to transfer money to other people, not necessarily members of HTFFFCU.
This is a major upgrade.
Yes, as I mentioned, we are listening to our members’ needs.
One of the things that we are also planning to introduce next year is an expanded credit card program. This is something that many members are asking about.
It looks like the changes ahead are all related to borrowing. Are you planning anything special for those who want to save or invest?
Yes. We are exploring ways to better meet the needs of our members, including perhaps developing a wealth management program. We are also exploring the insurance market to give our members a choice to insure their home and automobiles with us. I don’t have any specifics yet but we will keep members informed as soon as we have something more solid. At this point, I’d like to encourage all our members to sign up for our email newsletter. You could do it on Facebook. There is a lot happening in 2017 so it’s good to stay informed.
Yes, with all these new products and services, you’re going to have your hands full. Not to mention the remodel which turned part of the main office into a construction site…
Yes, it’s noisy at times, but I think we’re doing OK. Our main office is fully operational while undergoing these changes. We don’t foresee having to close the credit union while the remodel is taking place, although we may have a short period of time when the drive-up teller windows may be closed. I can assure you and all the members that the new lobby will be more comfortable and completely ADA compliant. We’re going to expand the waiting area and the front offices to ensure that both members and staff have more room and more privacy to discuss their matters.
Can we afford all those changes?
Yes, the credit union is in good financial position. We are all aware that this is the members’ money that we are using for this remodel, so we make it a point to be thrifty. For example, we are switching to new energy-efficient lighting that will save us money in the long run. Upon completion, we want to invite our members to a new, modern looking lobby but we’re not going to waste money on extravagances. In a few months, you will see for yourself.
Steve Gilman’s first year as HTFFFCU's President and CEO has flown by with many exciting changes both completed and set in motion; from a redesigned website to an enhanced online banking system. Without a doubt, members of HTFFFCU have an incredible year ahead.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for announcements about our new upcoming products! To stay in the loop on all the innovative changes, follow us onFacebook and sign up for our eNewsletter.