Financial Connectivity Without Sacrificing the Human Touch

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“I know how you feel, I’ve been there,”said no banking chatbox…ever.

Like other modern financial institutions, Oregonians CreditUnion (Oregonians) embraces all the best that advancedfinancial technology offers. Unlike most, Oregonians jealouslyguards its personal relationships with 21,000 members inwestern and central Oregon and beyond.

“We love what technology can do for ourmembers, making it easier and less timeconsumingto access the services they need.We also love the savings that automatedprocesses generate for our member-ownedorganization. But we refuse to let technologydisrupt us from taking a very high touchapproach to service,” explains Sam Launius,who has been with Oregonians for 14 yearsand became CEO in 2018.

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Since its founding in 1937, Oregonians has been built on the idea of member connectedness. The inclusion of advancedtechnology is an enhancement that allows Oregonians to continue and strengthen relationships with members.

“Traditional for-profit banks use technology to improve their bottom line. For example, most are closing one brick-andmortarbranch after another and substituting ‘face-time’ with customers for remote banking. We see technology asan opportunity to invest more of our time on genuinely personal attention to members…that includes enhancing andmodernizing our local branches,” explains Launius.

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Oregonians’ commitment to member services is pervasive throughout the organization. Employees are hired, in part,based on their willingness to serve. The entire staff is continually trained to find new ways to help members achievetheir goals. The emphasis is on relationships rather than transactions and financial guidance rather than sales.

“We view every member contact as an opportunity to find ways we can improve lives,” says Launius. “For example, amember visited one of our branches to ask about a home equity loan. By taking the time to dig a little deeper, asking morequestions, we found we could offer her a much better alternative. By refinancing her first mortgage, she got the funds sheneeded while reducing her mortgage payments, saving $72,000 over the life of the loan and allowing her to pay off themortgage five years sooner. We could have easily approved the home equity loan and she would have been satisfied, butour purpose is to explore every avenue to find member savings.”

For another member, extra effort from Oregonians meant the difference between getting the assistance she neededor being denied. Despite her excess credit card debt and misdirected attempts to raise her fairly poor credit score, themember applied for an auto loan. Denial was, understandably, automatic. But rather than simply writing her off as a badrisk, Oregonians went the extra mile. They reached out to her and, without being judgmental, advised her to take somesteps that improved her credit score in 30 days. Thereafter, she qualified for an auto loan with Oregonians, saving her$6,000 over the life of the loan. If she sticks with the financial plan Oregonians provided her, she’ll pay off all her debtin half the time and pay half the amount of interest.

Personalized service is not limited to members who contact one ofOregonians’ seven branches. Because the staff are trained to betruly financial guides, they are vigilant to identify often-overlookedissues. Proactive calls are made to alert members about importantissues that need attention. For example, an account may have nobeneficiaries or the beneficiaries on an account might be outdated.Seems inconsequential. However, incorrect documentation can tie upfunds for over six months and cost thousands of dollars for a deceasedindividual’s family.

“We are driven to improve each member’sfinancial health; that is the sole reason for ourexistence. A call, email, or text to us about afinancial question isn’t an interruption to ourday,” concludes Launius. “It is our mandate tocreate educated financial consumers who haveknowledge and an entire staff of professionalsworking on their behalf.”

Oregonians Credit Union is federally insured by NCUA and is an Equal Housing Lender.6915 SE Lake Road, Milwaukie, OR 97267.

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