Saving Time and Cutting Costs while Opening New Accounts

Early results show that streamlined account opening processes can save valuable staff time while improving member service.


Online account opening has gotten a lot of publicity lately, and many credit unions have been eager to add another self-service feature to their websites. Integration with ACH transfers can even allow new members to fund an account instantly, adding to the allure of an online account opening solution.

But why stop at the online channel? Why not improve the new account process throughout the entire credit union? This is exactly what some leading credit unions are doing by utilizing an enterprise account opening solution that spans branches, call centers, kiosks, and the online channel.

Less Is More

In many credit unions, the current account opening procedure is a cumbersome process that requires manual entry of information into multiple computers and databases. New solutions streamline this process – member information is entered one time and is automatically run through credit and identity checks. In the online channel, these solutions can allow a member to immediately open an account via the self-service channel. In the branches, the staff no longer needs to enter data into multiple systems, or pass along member information to different staff members for loan or credit card approvals.

BECU ($5.5 billion in assets, WA) has been using an online account opening for over a year with great success, and recently implemented a streamlined process throughout all of their branches and back-office operations. Early results show that the new process saves about five minutes per new account. With a projected 5,000 new accounts being opened in the next month, that will translate into over 416 man-hours saved!

The average credit union over $500 million in assets gained 5,200 members in the year ending June 30. Shaving just 5 minutes off the new account process by eliminating manual entry and duplication of information would result in aggregate savings of 434 man-hours, or almost 11 forty-hour work weeks. And that’s just a conservative estimate that doesn’t take into account the additional time savings when new members opt for multiple products that would have required even more data entry.


Deploying an automated account opening process across the entire credit union has a major advantage beyond cost savings and efficiency gains. From a compliance standpoint, all applications are automatically run through the identity and fraud checks required by the PATRIOT Act – without any additional steps that could potentially be a source of human error. Auditors and compliance officers will find this benefit particularly appealing.