The January 2002 meeting of the BMI Federal Credit Union Board of directors will be its first online or ''virtual'' meeting, said President/CEO Sharon Custer. BMI FCU, Columbus, Ohio (20,000 members, $155 million-in-assets) set up a secured Web site where board members can view credit union policies and procedures, exchange email, check schedules, download and submit forms and see posted industry news.
Clicking on the icon named ''Virtual Board Room'' brings directors to a page that has the board agenda and a consent agenda. Directors can vote to approve the minutes of the last meeting, read all material and vote online. ''If there is something they want to ask a question about, they click ''discussion'' and it goes to our message board,'' explained Custer. An executive management team monitors the board frequently, she said.
''At one time or other, every CEO has had to say at a board meeting, ''I'll have to research that and get back to you,'' said Custer. ''Well, this way, we get back very fast.''
BMI's board will still conduct ''live'' board meetings, Custer said, but the time saved by holding virtual meetings will free them to use it for strategic planning and more educational/informational presentations. ''We won't have to spend so much time on the mundane; we can look forward.''
Custer gives Mark Hawkins, President/CEO of Riverside Credit Union, Riverside, California, (68,000 members, $400 million-in-assets) a lot of credit for helping create the virtual board room. ''They gave us access to their site and we piggybacked our design on theirs; we only tweaked it a little,'' said Custer.
''We put our boardroom on the Net in December 1997 and we just did our 48th monthly meeting,'' said Hawkins. Hawkins said it has changed the dynamic of preparing for board meetings and allowed the board to devote more time to other topics of interest. ''We have the time to deal with strategic issues more deserving of board participation. It has worked well for us and the board is pleased.''
''I think as far as voting online goes, we were the first. Even now, I think it's fewer than ten credit unions doing board voting over the Internet, and I'd be hard pressed to say why. Maybe it's not for everyone.''
Riverside is now helping another CU start a boardroom Website, and Hawkins said that the CU would market the product to other interested credit unions.