Credit unions compelled to innovate as non-traditional competitors take hold

Michigan Legacy Credit Union answers the call to modernize amid fintech disruption

 Media Contact: Lucie Fornasiero; EAFocus Communications; lucie@eafocus.com; 248.925.6726

Wyandotte, Mich. — August 30, 2021 — Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU)—with five physical branches in Flat Rock, Highland, Pontiac, Warren and Wyandotte—is answering the call to innovate as more big tech giants and retailers like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Walmart move into the fintech sector to offer traditional financial and banking services. Led by CEO Carma Peters, MLCU has taken several innovative measures to modernize its experience as part of a larger strategic direction that shifts to a smaller physical footprint and offers more digital interaction with members.

“With the rise of neobanks, combined with an increasing number of customers willing to handle their personal finances remotely as a result of the pandemic, brick-and-mortar banking is experiencing disruption, and the traditional bank teller and ATM experience is no longer enough,” Peters said. “The move to fully online banking affirms MLCU’s strategic branching system decision, as we are already seeing the value among our branches that has come with having less square footage of space.”

MLCU is converting all its locations to teller-less branches, utilizing smart ATMs to handle deposits and withdrawals. As part of the teller-less branch, MLCU adopted the Pop I/O video teller platform in which a member can open an account, apply for a loan, close a loan, including mortgage lending, and perform any maintenance such as change of address, fraud disputes and any other cashless services on their account through the video platform. This technology allows members to join from the comfort of their home, vacation or wherever they happen to be from their convenience of their phone. A key objective is to provide one-on-one service utilizing technology in a non-threatening environment, along with non-contact transactions that keep members and staff as safe as possible.

“We saw in-person transactions and member lobby interactions start to decline even before the pandemic, so this strategic decision was easy to make; when the pandemic hit, though, online took off,” Peters said.

In 2020, MLCU had 50,000 more online transactions in April than in March—a 38% increase. More recently, online channels have increased 33% in 2021.

While the call to innovate could be intimidating for smaller financial institutions, it shouldn’t be.

“You do not have to be a large financial institution to adopt new technology at prices you can afford. Most of it is thinking outside the traditional box and finding the ways to make solutions work for your credit union,” Peters notes.

MLCU’s innovation efforts haven’t gone unnoticed. In December 2020, the renovated Wyandotte branch reopened, designed as a nostalgic community gathering spot, reminiscent of a 60s era diner, and complete with a jukebox encased ATM machine. Michigan Credit Union League announced the Wyandotte branch of Michigan Legacy Credit Union as an Innovation Award winner earlier this year.

And the modernization won’t stop there.

“Eventually, our goal is to provide 24-hour service, utilizing staff to be on call for the video platform anytime it is convenient for members,” Peters shared. “We will continue to adapt as our world changes – rapidly.”

About Michigan Legacy Credit Union

Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU) is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative serving members who live, work, worship, attend school, or own a business in the state of Michigan. Michigan Legacy Credit Union is committed to providing quality financial services at a competitive price, delivered professionally and efficiently while keeping member/owners and their needs first. For additional information on MLCU, visit: www.michiganlegacycu.org.

Michigan Legacy

Michigan Legacy Credit Union successfully hosts Underground Collision event

Media Contact: Lucie Fornasiero; EAFocus Communications; lucie@eafocus.com; 248.925.6726;

Warren, Mich. — August 23, 2021 — Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU), with five physical branches in Flat Rock, Highland, Pontiac, Warren and Wyandotte, was pleased to host the Underground Collision event on August 18 in Warren, Michigan. Undeground Collision was started by Mitchell Stankovich & Associates, a strategic consulting group that focuses on credit unions. “The Underground” brings together credit union thought leaders to have conversations that challenge the status quo and propose innovative ideas for the future of the industry.

While the Underground Collision event is typically held as part of a larger credit union conference, this year’s stand-alone event came about due to the challenges presented by COVID-19 to gather nationally, according to MLCU President and CEO, Carma Peters.

“I am always looking for opportunities to convene with and learn from industry colleagues on ways to keep our credit unions ahead of the curve, but it’s especially important now in this rapidly changing environment,” Peters said. “At a time that we really need it, our conversations at The Underground event have me thinking about what’s next for Michigan Legacy – and I’m sure the same is true for my industry colleagues.”

The event attracted 85 attendees from credit unions across Michigan and Ohio. Conversations centered around the future of branches and work, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and reframing innovation in a post-pandemic world. In addition to Michigan Legacy Credit Union, the event was sponsored by CU*Answers, Xtend, Holzman Law, Alloya, CUNA Mutual Group, Michigan Credit Union League, and TPG. (Thompson Phelan Group)

Peters was joined by Scott McFarland, President and CEO of Honor Credit Union, in presenting to the group on the future of branches and work, and the need for continuous innovation – including the need for more advanced technology. Peters noted that MLCU looks at data on member engagement and branch utilization to help determine what the right innovation paths may be to best serve their population.

Additional speakers for the day included:

  • Amanda Denney, Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at MSU Federal Credit Union
  • Esteban Camargo, Manager of Communications and Content Marketing at CU*Answers
  • Liz Winniger, President/CEO at Xtend, Inc.
  • Jennifer Martines, Executive Vice President at FreeStar Financial Credit Union

Based on the success this year, Peters looks forward to hosting a similar Michigan event in 2022.

About Michigan Legacy Credit Union

Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU) is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative serving members who live, work, worship, attend school, or own a business in the state of Michigan. Michigan Legacy Credit Union is committed to providing quality financial services at a competitive price, delivered professionally and efficiently while keeping member/owners and their needs first. For additional information on MLCU, visit: www.michiganlegacycu.org.

Michigan Legacy Credit Union donates $25,000 to local charities as part of Wyandotte branch renovations and grand re-opening celebration

Media Contact: Lucie Fornasiero; EAFocus Communications; lucie@eafocus.com; 248.925.6726

Wyandotte, Mich. — July 1, 2021 —In tandem with the June 11 celebration of the renovation of its Wyandotte, Michigan headquarter branch, Michigan Legacy Credit Union CEO Carma Peters announced major financial donations to two area non-profits: The Downriver Community Food Pantry and the Wyandotte Rotary Club.

The Downriver Community Food Pantry, a Wyandotte-based organization focused on feeding the hungry and based behind St. Patrick Catholic Church, received a $10,000 donation. The Wyandotte Rotary Club, a member club of Rotary International, a global service organization that exists to put service above self and to network leaders together to strengthen the community, received $15,000.

“As a credit union, we rely on our valued members and the communities we serve for mutual success, so it is with a grateful heart that Michigan Legacy makes these donations to local charities who are doing so much good for our neighbors,” said Peters.

The renovated Wyandotte branch follows a theme of a 50’s style diner prototype slated for several branches. The goal is to emphasize the customer service ethos of a time gone by, showcasing nostalgia and good feelings within a functional space boasting the most modern banking tools available to credit unions, including virtual tellers. Leading technology, a fun theme and an exhilarating color scheme of blue, orange and green are helping staff and members alike are flourish in the vibrant new environment.

About Michigan Legacy Credit Union

Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU) is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative serving members who live, work, worship, attend school, or own a business in the state of Michigan. Michigan Legacy Credit Union is committed to providing quality financial services at a competitive price, delivered professionally and efficiently while keeping member/owners and their needs first. For additional information on MLCU, visit: www.michiganlegacycu.org.

Why Innovation Matters

Last week, we announced that we had been awarded the 2021 Innovation Award from Michigan Credit Union League. What is innovation? Innovation is when a product or idea is created or improved. It directly impacts businesses and their competitors, but how does innovation relate to members?

For Michigan Legacy, innovation shows we care, are forward-thinking, and are invested in our employees, members, and community. This is why we are proud to have been given the 2021 Innovation Award.

WE CARE:

We are always looking for ways to better the lives of those around us. Whether that be through the products and services we offer, the benefits to our employees, or our investments in the community. We believe each person is responsible for making the world a better, safer place. We contribute by:

  • Being digitally advanced and using less paper than most financial institutions.
  • Contributing heavily to the communities. We work with companies like Crime Stoppers – to ensure safety – and sponsor the Fight for Air Climb – an event organized by the American Lung Association to bring awareness to the lungs.
  • Sharing with the community. When we remodeled our Wyandotte branch we purchased additional space for parking. When events are going on nearby, this space is available to anyone for free!

WE THINK FORWARD:

At Michigan Legacy, we are always thinking ahead. One way our progressive thinking paid off was pre-COVID when we made plans to convert to a more digitally advanced platform. When COVID arrived and things were forced to be virtual, we were already prepared to advance to that step. Because of this, we were able to ensure that this advanced platform was secure and worked well for our company. It wasn’t rushed – it was calculated and planned because of our innovative efforts. 

WE INVEST IN OUR EMPLOYEES:

Being part of an innovative company means that employees can think outside the box. At Michigan Legacy that is highly encouraged! We believe in our employee’s potential and ability to reach new heights and want to be there to support them. Creativity is something that is inside everyone- think of it like a muscle. When employees have the ability to exercise that muscle, it gets stronger and leads to greatness.

We understand that all employees have lives outside of work and encourage a healthy work/life balance. Our employee’s mental and physical health comes first. We strive to provide our employees with the best benefits and resources to achieve a balance that works for them.

Innovation is something that adds value to an organization and its members. To read more about the innovation reward that Michigan Legacy received, click Read more about the innovation reward that Michigan Legacy received.

Michigan Legacy Credit Union is recipient of the Innovation Award from the Michigan Credit Union League

Media Contact: Barbara Fornasiero; EAFocus Communications; barbara@eafocus.com; 248.260.8466

Wyandotte, Mich. — April 12, 2021 — Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU) is pleased to announce it has been named a 2021 Michigan Credit Union League Innovation Award winner.  This award recognizes credit unions for innovative thinking, action and community involvement, and is part of a larger, annual awards program in conjunction with the Michigan Credit Union Foundation identifying credit unions, professionals and volunteers that have demonstrated organizational leadership, operational effectiveness, community service, and financial education. The announcement was made by Michigan Legacy Credit Union President and CEO Carma Peters.

“Credit unions are community driven, so we are continually exploring new and inventive ways to better serve our members while reaching out to our communities at large,” said Peters. “We are honored to be recognized for our innovative outlook and our efforts to make a difference in our community.”

In pandemic-year 2020, MLCU, with branches in Flat Rock, Garden City, Highland, Pontiac, Warren and Wyandotte, took several innovative steps to serve its members and the community.  The not-for-profit financial cooperative launched a mobile app that provides credit union services—such as opening an account, changing an address, and applying for and closing on a new loan, including mortgages—via a virtual video teller.  MLCU also provided $2.5 million in fee waivers (double from a non-pandemic year) to members, set up a food voucher program in April to support frontline healthcare workers and local restaurants, and distributed 3,500 small bottles of hand sanitizer with every drive-through transaction.  Additionally, the credit union gave nearly $26,000 to charity in 2020 to positively impact the community, and more than 500 books to local libraries and elementary school children.

As part of an overall strategic direction adopted in 2019 to maintain a right-sized footprint while featuring a fun environment, easy-to-use fintech technologies, and an engaged staff at the ready, MLCU completed the remodel of its Wyandotte branch in December 2020, the first of several properties slated for renovation, to represent a nostalgic community gathering spot reminiscent of a 60s era diner.

“As we saw in-person transactions and member lobby interactions continue to decline even before the pandemic, the strategic decision was easy to make,” said Peters. “Michigan Legacy provides one on one service utilizing technology in a non-threatening environment.  COVID affirmed the decision with the creation of safe, non-contact transactions that keep our member/owners and staff as safe as possible.” 

All Michigan Credit Union League and Michigan Credit Union Foundation award winners will be formally honored this August at the League’s 2021 Annual Convention & Exposition in Traverse City. View a full list of winners.

About Michigan Legacy Credit Union

Michigan Legacy Credit Union (MLCU) is a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative serving members who live, work, worship, attend school, or own a business in the state of Michigan. Michigan Legacy Credit Union is committed to providing quality financial services at a competitive price, delivered professionally and efficiently while keeping member/owners and their needs first. For additional information on MLCU, visit the Michigan Legacy Credit Union website.

About Money Smart Week 2021

Guess what – Money Smart Week starts on April 10th!

Money Smart Week is a great resource for people who desire to learn more about finances. The week is filled with free, virtual events – each day presents a fresh topic. Because these webinars are only 10-15 minutes long, they are easy to fit in any schedule.  

You can attend the webinars that interest you by going to the Money Smart website and clicking on the “Register for Money Smart Week 2021” button. The events are free, but registration is preferred. Once you click the register button, you will be brought to a screen that requests your name, email, zip code, and age range. After filling that information out, you select the webinars you are registering for. Before clicking “submit”, you have the option to ask a financial question. The webinars don’t feature a live Q&A, so if you have a question that is your chance to ask.

Here are some topics covered during Money Smart Week 2021:

Talking Cents –Strategies and tactics to use to keep financial discussions with parents, kids, and life partners comfortable and fun.

Savings: A Little Can Make a Big Difference – How a small savings account (in the low hundreds) is useful and offers realistic savings goals to reach your desired amount.

Understanding the Basics of Federal Student Loans – Basic overview of federal student loan programs,  how things have changed due to COVID-19, and tips on how utilize your loan. This webinar also covers loan servicers, private student loans, debt relief scam prevention, credit monitoring, and default prevention.

Managing Personal Finances During COVID-19 – Suggestions for managing your money during a time of uncertainty; Includes budgeting, emergency savings, and managing debt.

Tax-Related Fraud & Identity Theft – Learn how to recognize and avoid scams; Signs your identity has been stolen, and what to do about it.

Housing Protections and Resources – What steps to take if you are having trouble making rent payments; reviews the law in place to pause foreclosure or mortgage payments.

Tips for Managing Moneys Ups & Downs – Steps to help you take control of your money. Tips on how to make the most of your income.  

Learning about and taking charge of your finances is empowering, lessens stress, and improves your livelihood. Have questions about ways MLCU can help you? See what promotions we have that you can benefit from, call us at 800-552-8643, or text 248-409-3150. We are here to help!

3 Ways to Kick Instant Gratification

Instant gratification is the desire to experience or have something right now. It’s you hitting the snooze button on an alarm, eating chocolate the second you crave it, or buying a sweater you found while casually scrolling through social media. Instant gratification is the lack of patience and willpower – and guess what, it costs you money. Three ways you can kick instant gratification are to:

Monitor Smart Phones.

Monitor how much time you spend on your phone. It’s no secret that the norm for today is to have your phone on you 24/7. You may have a watch connected to your phone as well. Constant notifications and messages can be distracting – not only to your daily lives but also to your financial goals.

To help, try to treating your smart phone like a landline phone. Keep it in a set location and only check it when necessary.  If you have a hard time staying off of social media, log out of your accounts after a certain time. The need to type in your passcode will remind you you’ve reached your limit for the day. If you need a more accountable solution, some phone have a settings options that lock you out of social media after you go over your set time limit. There are apps that do that as well. Turning off notifications can help keep distractions to a minimum.

Social media is a breeding ground for comparison. It’s important to keep a healthy mindset, and remember that while the grass tends to look greener, that is generally not the case. Remember that the stage you are in right now is where you are meant to be. Your purchasing decisions now determine your financial future. Waiting a few days before purchasing something can help determine the level of necessity, as well as the true desire to have the product.

Write Down Your Goals.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and jot down your financial goals for the year. Maybe your goal is to pay off a loan, a credit card, or a car. Write down the total amount owed, what you want to pay this year, and then break it down into a smaller timeframe – monthly or weekly.

It’s vital to keep your goals attainable and measureable. If they are not, you won’t stay on track. This can lead to discouragement, stress, and financial struggles. Be gentle with yourself and your budget!

Once you set goals, track your progress! You can do this through an app, but it’s also fun to have a chart on a wall at home. An app can be easily avoided, whereas a chart on the fridge or a wall is a great motivator to keep going and a great reminder to save money!

Rely on the People Around you.

Have a couple friends or family members hold you accountable. It could be as small as seeing a clothing ad on social media and calling a friend to talk to them about how you want to buy the clothes but you are trying to save money. While finances are different for every person, everybody has debt they’ve incurred or something they are saving for. You could get a group of friends or family members to be your “savings buddy”. People have gym buddies, so why not? It can be as little as $5 a week – but you keep each other on track.

By exercising your willpower, you can resist instant gratification and save more money. In the end, it’s all about your personal health and wellbeing. Learn about the psychology behind instant gratification. For more ways to save money, visit our blog post 5 Tips to Save Money.

Security at MLCU

Security is very important at MLCU, and we know it’s a topic of interest to you – our members. Being a part of the financial industry means that we hold a lot of sensitive information- and we want you to be confident that we keep it safe. Today, we’ll go over some of the security measures we have in place.

A Secure Firewall With VPN Connections

A VPN – virtual private network – is a secure connection between your device and the internet. It’s like an encrypted “tunnel” – keeping information safe as it travels from one place to another. Because this information is encrypted it is not able to be viewed by others. A firewall protects by acting as a guard and only letting in trusted sources. Both of these work together to protect us and all information against viruses, hackers, and other intruders.

Shredding Documents

Before we are striving to be more virtual everyday, we rarely have to print things. Of course, printing is necessary in some circumstances. As soon as those documents are no longer required, they are shredded. To ensure proper disposal, we work with a certified shred company!

Quarterly Training With Staff

The purpose of these training sessions is to keep our team up-to-date with the latest information. During these sessions, we go through the latest policies and regulations to equip our team with the knowledge and resources to keep information secure. Our team understands the importance of cybersecurity. In addition to annual audits about risk and security, we have a CISP policy and a disaster relief program in place.

Mobile and Online Banking Security

The security of online and mobile banking can be a concern for some, so we want to put your mind at ease. To make sure your the one in control, we have multi-level authentication in place. You have the option to set up a more secure profile as well! This includes setting up added passwords for purchases, setting times you can log-in (for example, no log-ins available between 11 pm and 6 am), and more. If interested in setting this up, our member services would be happy to assist you! Contact them at 800-552-8643. We also have mobile alerts available for when your account is accessed via debit or credit card.

Questions about our security measures or interested in setting up a more secure profile? Feel free to contact us at 800-552-8643 or email us at memberservice@michiganlegacycu.org.

5 Tips to Save Money

Have you ever looked at your dwindling savings account and wondered what you could do differently? When people tell you to “stop spending” but it’s not that easy? Everyone has been here at some point. Perhaps you’re happy with your savings account, but want to feel inspired by fresh saving tactics. Whatever the situation, we are happy to offer you five tips on how to save money:

Budgeting

Analyze where your money is going every month and not only in your head! Keeping track of your budget on paper or through an app will help you set realistic goals for saving. Besides, it will provide an answer to that “where did my money go?!” question.

To begin, start tracking your spending, analyze where your money goes, and how much. How much do you spend on gas each month? Groceries? Have a standard budget but allow yourself some flexibility. If you are hosting a family holiday or going to visit an out-of-state relative, your food and gas budget is going to be different than the previous month. Remember that balance is key.

Kick Instant Gratification

The mentality that you have to have everything right NOW is one of the things that cost you the most money – there’s a lot of psychology behind why people follow this pattern. Ultimately, it boils down to the fact that the more you cave into instant gratification, the worse it gets. Every time you give in to that habit, a short burst of dopamine is released in your brain. It doesn’t last long and leaves you craving another.

Try implementing a rule where you wait a certain number of days to make a purchase. Whether it be 7 days, 10 days, 3 weeks, or a solid month. The desire to buy an unnecessary item disappears with time. Be mindful and spend out of functionality and not emotion.

Create a Visual Reminder of Your Debt.

While you might think this sounds discouraging, it’s quite helpful because you can see your progress as you work toward achieving your goals. Creating a color-as-you-go or interactive chart may motivate you to spend less money!

Avoiding Fast Food

Easier said than done, for sure. When you pass that certain fast food place and all of sudden you crave a burger, fries, and shake. Perhaps it’s a coffee place. Did you know the average American woman spends $2,327 on coffee per year? And the average American male spends $1,934.

How to help: make a meal plan! A lot of times, eating out is a quick fix – you’re not sure what to make for dinner, and stopping to grab food is an instant fix with no mess. Having meals planned helps eliminate this issue. If you’re feeling ambitious, take a shot at prepping those meals ahead of time! Try planning your meals around the grocery coupons you receive in the mail or online.

As for the coffee, making your gourmet coffee at home will save you money. Invest in a coffee maker, your choice of coffee, and syrups if you like flavor. Get a couple of travel mugs for when you’re on-the-go. In the long run, this is less expensive and you get to make your coffee just how you like it!

Use Community Resources

While COVID makes this challenging, use whatever community resources you feel comfortable with. Keep track of community events- a lot of communities are hosting virtual ones right now. Check with your library, city hall, or community website! Using these resources cuts down on boredom and helps alleviate spending. Instead of buying, get a book or movie from the library. If you prefer e-books, check with your library – most are partnered with an app that allows you to borrow e-books for free!

Look at our outreach page for more financial education articles and to see what we’re up to in the community!Here is a list of our social media platforms- follow to keep up with us!

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