There has been a proliferation of media attention to all things “green” lately. If you work in the financial services industry, there's no escaping the trend that we're all eager to jump on the environmentally-sound bandwagon. And why not, since taking care of our planet is as unassailable as motherhood and apple pie?
But while you might be able to garner positive press for launching a successful recycling program at your credit union, you still need to show measurable, concrete results for your core business at the end of the quarter. A hidden benefit of the “green” hype is that it can serve as another motivator to implement a process improvement program you've already identified for your department. If you're struggling to comply with a vaguely defined corporate initiative to adopt green practices, plenty of practical, tangible services are available for credit unions of any size that are both environmentally sound and drive positive business results:
- Consider Paperless loan origination: Traditional account opening and loan origination processes are heavily manual and include hidden expenses related to paper, printing and poor workflow management. Lenders need paperless solutions to reduce both the time and costs embedded throughout the cycle. Look for loan origination systems that offer e-signature and e-vaulting , which support p aperless processes all the way through to booking, fulfillment and filing of documents.
- Review E-Mortgages: The silver lining to the subprime mortgage meltdown is the fantastic growth in first mortgage business enjoyed by credit unions today. With the increased loan volume, mortgage professionals need immediate access to tools that will allow them to close loans faster at an affordable rate. When deciding to “go electronic”, it is critical to determine how to capture efficiencies without exposing your credit union to captive operational risk. Look for a centralized vendor that can provide appraisal, title and ancillary closing services to streamline processes and close loans quickly. Be careful to choose a vendor that has a solid track record in closing mortgages electronically.
- Adopt digital newsletters. Many credit unions see the conversion of newsletters and other paper-based correspondence to email delivery as “low-hanging fruit” in their Green initiatives. But, while most have a large database of client information, including name and address, email address files often have gaps. Plus, there's an average 25-30% annual churn rate on email addresses making a source of fresh email updates a critical component of any effective, efficient email delivery strategy. When evaluating vendors, consider not only match rates but accuracy as well, since invalid email addresses can be a gnawing problem.
- Incorporate electronic verification of income and employment . Approving new members for credit or hiring new employees typically involves verifying employment information with the applicant's employer using fax, phone or manual paper-based processes. Creditors chafe under these cost and process inefficiencies, and too often incur hidden opportunity costs by foregoing the verification altogether – sacrificing quality, accepting risk or missing the chance to cross-sell additional products. There are now online, web-based solutions available that completely automate the process, significantly contributing to paperless initiatives. Look for a vendor that provides employment and income data sourced directly from employers to improve accuracy and freshness.
For more information on services Equifax offers that can help you save the planet or your profit margin, visit www.equifax.com/greencu/