In a recent interview, Tim DeLise, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Oklahoma Federal Credit Union (Off-site Link), discussed the value of the credit union’s collaboration with the Federal Reserve Banks and specifically with its account executive, Kathy Malone. Interestingly enough, both DeLise and Malone started with their respective companies at the same time over 18 years ago and have been working toward a successful collaboration ever since. Their relationship has helped enable Oklahoma Federal’s employees to improve their levels of customer service and help meet the needs of members.
Founded in 1951, Oklahoma Federal Credit Union recently celebrated 61 years of service to the community. During this time, the credit union has experienced much change, growth and a new vision while maintaining its commitment to providing stellar member service. In December 1951, the credit union had 274 members and assets of $996. By December 2011, the credit union has grown to 17 employees, three branches, over 8,000 members and assets totaling over $85 million.
While Oklahoma Federal Credit Union has experienced many changes in its 61 year history, its relationship with the Federal Reserve Banks has not wavered. During times of tremendous change for financial institutions, use of Federal Reserve Financial Services has remained a steady element. Today, Oklahoma Federal uses a wide assortment of the Fed’s services via the FedLine Advantage® Plus access solution. The list includes Fedwire® Services, FedACH® Services, the suite of Check 21- enabled services that includes FedReceipt®, FedReceipt Plus for Returns, FedForward® and FedReturn® Services and FedCash® Services, as well as other reporting and information services.
Speaking specifically about the FedReceipt Plus for Returns Service, Nancy Jiles, vice president of accounting, stated, “Delivery of returns from the Fed in a PDF format has allowed us to receive and work our returns much more quickly. This service helps improve our internal operations and is available to us at no cost! How could you pass that up?”
“At the end of the day, for Oklahoma Federal, it’s all about our members. With the Fed, it’s all about me as a customer. Working with the Fed and its services helps Oklahoma Federal differentiate itself from other financial institutions people may consider.”
In over 18 years, as you would suspect, Oklahoma Federal has gone through a number of updates and transitions as the Federal Reserve Banks introduced new and updated services to meet the requirements of an ever-changing and growing industry. The list includes implementation of the Check 21 suite of services, the introduction of readily available, long-term archives of images and wire transfer services.
What is most positive about these changes is that they did not cause business interruptions or challenge the credit union’s mission to deliver great service. Transitions went smoothly with help on business options and testing from Malone, other representatives from the Fed and vendors. DeLise initially thought his team would resist such changes — in his words, “go kicking and screaming” — because change invariably means extra training and revised procedures. Instead, in each case, his team’s experience was positive, resulting in a seamless transition to a new, better service capability.
“We experienced no issues whatsoever which is amazing. And, the changes we employed allow our branches to be more interconnected, which results in staff providing continued excellent service and members getting what they need on the spot.”
Over the years, both staff and members of Oklahoma Federal have experienced greater benefits. For instance, use of the Fedwire Funds Service has become the most efficient way to send and receive funds allowing the credit union to offer its members immediate settlement. Various reporting functions available within the wire service allow employees to have access to and provide instant information to members regarding wires sent or received.
In Oklahoma Federal's check business, small investments have netted savings on the return side, both in actual dollar savings and time savings. In addition, with use of electronic returns, risk has been greatly reduced and the ability to identify fraudulent items made easier with immediate access to necessary information, reports and images.
Access to reports allows staff members, such as Martice Walker, assistant vice president of operations, to keep a close eye on billing and monthly services. The availability of that information equips her with the ability to make operations decisions that can help to further reduce the cost of providing member services.
A key component of a good relationship is the belief that you can always count on the other party. “Our account executive, Kathy, always makes me feel like our inquiries are important. Knowing that I can reach out to her about anything or everything, with confidence that it will be taken care of, provides me with great comfort,” stated DeLise. “Kathy is always responsive to meeting my needs or having the right person contact me. She helps make my job easier and thus we can provide a service that is better for our current and future members.”
Work with your local account executive to learn how you can gain more control and efficiency for your institution. We are ready to help you with comparisons and can provide you with extensive information on our services. Use the My FedDirectory® service to access your personalized phone directory of all your Federal Reserve contacts.
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