The new reality presented by COVID-19 has spurred operational changes at Abound Credit Union ($1.7B, Radcliff, KY). The Bluegrass State cooperative has a longstanding devotion to the financial wellness of its members and communities, however, and continues to help them make ends meet.
When the pandemic struck, the credit union was quick to offer assistance to protect the health and safety of members. For the month of April, it is waiving the $35 fee for its skip-a-pay program that covers auto, RV, and personal loans. It also is offering payment deferrals for up to 90 days on auto, personal, and home loans as well as consumer credit cards. New members refinancing loans from higher-rate lenders have payment deferral options, too, and members who need immediate assistance to stay current on their day-to-day expenses can tap into a low-interest emergency loan.
Across the United States, members and communities are looking for solutions to help them combat the fallout from the coronavirus. Credit unions such as Abound — those guided by values-based leadership — are stepping toward, not away from, the challenge.
As disruptive as the past few weeks have been, however, this is only beginning. Fortunately, high-level programs do make a real-life impact on individual members and play a meaningful role in helping them continue to participate in and support their communities. Here are three of those stories.
5 Tips For The Financially Stressed
Abound Credit Union encourages social distancing via drive-thru-only services, which it implemented on March 21. Yet even from a distance, Abound is educating the communities it serves. In a guest column for a local newspaper, president and CEO Ray Springsteen offered tips to ease the minds of financially stressed residents.
Don’t Panic: “Leave investment and retirement savings alone if possible.”
Seek Relief: “Contact your local bank or credit union to find out what is offered before you miss any scheduled payments or find yourself without grocery money.”
Consider Your Resources: “Think about what you do have and how those resources may be able to assist you during a crisis.”
Use Online Services: “There are very few transactions that can’t be done remotely.”
Find Free ATMs: “Don’t forget to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after using ATMs.”
Face-To-Face And Over The Phone
Life doesn’t stop when the coronavirus comes to town. An elderly woman new to Kentucky was in search of a new institution for her social security direct deposit. The woman had closed her old bank account and made a branch appointment to open a new one with Abound. Although the local social security office was closed because of the pandemic, a credit union staff member was able to make contact over the phone and properly set up the deposit on the member’s behalf.
Re-Fi To Save Thousands
During an outbound calling campaign in which Abound staffers informed members about the credit union’s coronavirus assistance, one staff member offered to refinance a member’s auto loan that he held at another financial institution. Abound reduced the member’s interest rate from 14.62% to 6.14%, saving the member $70 a month and more than $5,000 over the life of the loan. The Abound staffer seized the opportunity to make a difference and generated big savings that will go a long way in the life of the member.
2 Cases To Show She Cares
Abound is scoring its share of member success stories, but sometimes it’s the members who take care of their credit union. That’s what happened when an Abound staffer and a credit union member started chatting about the pandemic while completing an auto loan refinance. The staffer said she was having difficulty finding baby wipes, and the member returned later that day with two cases. Credit unions strive to make a personal impact on members; occasionally, members are able to return the favor.
Even during normal times, credit unions revolve around the member. This hyper-focus is apparent now more than ever. The credit union difference extends to members and employees alike, and these are all small examples of the big difference the cooperative model can make. That’s purpose in action.
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