The tech guys at Belvoir Federal Credit Union ($324.0M, Woodbridge, VA) used their software smarts to do some spring cleaning last summer that dramatically reduced the process of culling dormant accounts and sending the money therein packing.
Escheatment — the legally mandated process of identifying abandoned deposits and remitting the funds to the appropriate authority, in this case the Virginia state treasurer’s office — was a tedious and time-consuming proposition at Belvoir FCU. That’s untilSean McConnell, senior programmer/analyst, designed a solution that identifies accounts that have shown no share or loan activity or address verifications in the past five years and automates a mailer distribution.
CU QUICK FACTS
Data as of 12.31.15
HQ: Woodbridge, VA
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 1.59%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 5.17%
Belvoir CIO George Ksenics says the idea came up in conversation with the person in charge of escheatment, and the IT team decided to take it on as part of its four-year effort to automate processes, especially those that involve keystrokes and forms.
“Our philosophy has been, if a computer can do it, let’s let it do it,” Ksenics says.
The project involved a few meetings with the person handling the escheatment process, approximately two weeks of programming, and some testing. As a result, the process that McConnell says used to take 10 to 15 hours or more now takes approximately one hour.
“We took all the stuff our escheatment person was doing manually and put code to it,” McConnell says. “She still had to go down the list and try to contact every member by phone. There’s still a personal touch — especially with high-dollar accounts — but we’ve reduced a lot of the tedious work involved.”
Escheatment At Belvoir FCU Then And Now
Run escheatment program. Employees must manually review every account returned to verify its eligibility for escheatment. (6 hours)
Contact members and record communication in an external document. Employees manually exclude those accounts throughout the rest of the escheatment process.
Manually create, print, fold, and stuff letters for each remaining account. (3 hours)
Manually note on every account that a letter has been sent. (1 hour)
Run escheatment program. The new program identifies only accounts that are eligible for escheatment and allows employees to easily filter out bad addresses and high dollar accounts. It automatically produces paperwork for the initial report, first notice, final notice, and finalized summary for record keeping as well as automatically makes notes on the accounts at each step. (1 hour)
Employees contact members and record the communication in Symitar, which allows the credit union to exclude those members when it runs the escheatment process again during subsequent steps.
Print notices on notice paper and automatically fold and seal notices via Belvoir’s notice folding machine. (15 minutes). CLICK HERE to see an example of Belvoir FCU's escheatment notice.
When the program runs, it notes on the accounts that a notice has been sent. (0 minutes)
The escheatment project wasn’t the only magic Belvoir FCU’s technologists have wrought with their core system’s programming kits.
McConnell also built a debit card on-off app that lets members freeze and unfreeze accounts and later expanded it to include informing the credit union of travel plans and lost or stolen cards.
And two other projects have generated a nice stream of fee income for the credit union.
The internal version went live on April 1, 2014, and has generated 461 payments skipped. A do-it-yourself version went live online on Nov. 1, 2014. Members have used that version to skip 1,200 payments. The credit union charges $35 for processing via branch or telephone and $25 for online.
ACH Loan Payments
On Oct. 28, 2015, Belvoir FCU introduced the ability to set up an external account to make ACH-originated loan payments directly to the credit union through its online banking system. Since then, members have set up 2,334 payments — of which 195 are recurring — by themselves for free through online banking and requested credit union staff assistance to set up 801 payments for $7.50 each.
The Belvoir FCU team has learned some lessons along the way, especially about how to gain buy-in from the non-IT people whose tasks are being automated.
“You have to have the right bank account, the emotional bank account, of respect and trust,” says CIO George Ksenics. “We built that by picking the low-hanging fruit and doing these projects well.”
Such was the case with the escheatment cleanup last summer; however, Belvoir FCU only gets the chance to do it once. The credit union — founded in 1946 by employees of the engineering center at Fort Belvoir — is being merged into Pentagon Federal Credit Union on May 1.