At a recent public meeting about toll roads, I was surprised when the presenters turned the tables on all of us who hate to pay tolls. They asked us what we would want from the improvements. How would we use it and what would we do with the estimated 30-to-45 minutes in time savings on those days that we chose to pay the toll? Would we spend more time with our kids, volunteer at a local nonprofit, or just relax a bit more?
Financial institutions and especially credit unions that are owned by our members should constantly ask ourselves: what difference can we make in our members lives? At Truliant we’ve imbedded that approach into our culture over decades.
We’re not just interested in making you a car loan. We’re interested in you securing the right transportation at the best overall cost to meet your needs. Or, if you’re so inclined and able, we want to help you buy the car that gives you a thrill every time you get behind the wheel. We want to help you make the best decision within the broader context of your life and what you are trying to achieve.
Truliant has added a significant number of new Member Financial Centers in the last year while banks have generally been shuttering locations. Why are we adding locations? We have the same state-of-the-art online and mobile banking services that the large banks offer and consumers are using them for more and more transactions.
However, the algorithm to help you decide on which course to take with your savings, investments and borrowing – placed in the context of your best interests – has yet to be written and delivered in a manner that you can trust. Having a trusted resource in person to help you make important financial choices large and small remains essential for most consumers.
By carefully attracting, retaining, training and trusting those key people who you turn to for advice with your best interest at heart, Truliant transforms the transaction-intensive branch bank model into a humanistic and relevant touch point for improving member lives. Consider that in 2015 Truliant performed 177,590 TruFinancial Checkups uncovering over 130,000 specific needs representing our members’ financial hopes and dreams.
We asked our members more than 46,000 relevant questions to get at the “real” need and to make sure this wasn’t just a focus on product by the member (or us). We provided 23,000 No-Cost Credit Reviews to unearth opportunities to lower members’ cost of financing and restore some to a path of financial health and well-being.
These are the metrics we use to determine whether or not we are meeting our mission. But the true judge of our success is your own assessment of financial progress and wellness. We remain as committed as ever to that journey with you.
With member outcomes taking the lead, we can look at some of the lag measures that reflect what personal financial progress looks like in a more traditional sense. We provided 19,720 auto, 2,223 home equity and 462 first mortgage loans to our members. In addition, we helped our small business members with 362 loans and $43 million in capital to build their businesses and provide jobs in our shared communities.
Given our roots in the telecommunication industry – Truliant was chartered in 1952 by a group of Western Electric Company employees – it’s surprising to us when potential Truliant At Work Business Partners or members think we don’t offer advanced electronic banking services. We do. I recently added our retinal scanning login option to sign in to the Tru2Go mobile banking app. I had the option to use my fingerprint instead. I regularly use a smartphone and iPad to deposit checks remotely.
Members deposited more than 198,300 checks conveniently and securely that way in 2015. From electronic bill pay to advanced alerts, our systems continue to meet our members’ needs as they become more interested in the convenience of these types of services.
We’re also surprised by how many consumers in our markets are not aware that they can join and immediately enjoy the benefits, especially our favorable deposit and loan rates and low fees. We hope that members who are aware of the benefits will continue to share their experiences – especially with family, friends and co-workers – so that they may also join. In 2015 we had 32 new companies and organizations join us as Truliant At Work Business Partners, bringing the availability of the Credit Union’s benefits to over 11,000 of their employees.
Our more than 1,000 Truliant At Work Business Partners are essential to helping consumers sort through the “noise” of financial service providers trying to attract their business. Once a company recognizes that Truliant is a genuine, not-for-profit cooperative designed specifically to help their employees make better long term financial decisions – and that we’re not here to sell or push product – it’s an easy choice to offer Truliant as a true partner benefit, not just another vendor. We are grateful for their support in informing their employees of the credit union option.
In the year ahead, we’ll stay focused on how to improve members’ lives. We will be adding additional locations in the rapidly growing Charlotte market and considering others in all of our markets where we could reach the scale for viability. We’ll continue to expand our online and mobile services to improve your access and convenience. Most importantly, we’ll emphasize the well-being of our member-owners with every choice we make. It is what has made Truliant one of the most successful credit unions in the United States and will continue to guide us into future decades.
I’d like to express gratitude to our volunteer Board of Directors, Associate Directors, Supervisory Committee and Charlotte Advisory Board for their vision, leadership and commitment to serving the member-owner. Member-ownership, volunteer leadership and our one-member, one-vote governance structure, remain the three legs of the credit union stool that not only supports us well, but with constant relevant redesign, propels us into a future that upholds the mission to improve member lives.