June — the traditional month for weddings — is when many couples join together in holy matrimony. In this June FedFocus issue, we are going to feature a different relationship; one between Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union (HiTel FCU) (Off-site Link) and the Federal Reserve Banks’ FedComplete Package. HiTel FCU’s vice president and controller, Wendy Cheung, talks about the credit union’s shift to working directly with the Federal Reserve Banks and the selection of a FedComplete Package to meet its business and operations needs.
75th anniversary recently observed
HiTel FCU was formed out of an idea from Mutual Telephone Company employees. On October 22, 1936, 65 employees signed on as charter members with assets totaling $2,517, calling themselves Mutelco Oahu Employees Federal Credit Union. In 1954, the credit union changed its name to Hawaiian Tel Employees Federal Credit Union. For over 75 years, the mission of HiTel FCU has been to provide quality products with outstanding member service.
Since its founding in 1936, HiTel FCU has grown to seven branches, 95 employees and over $500 million in assets. This tremendous growth has created a need for effective and efficient services to meet the needs of the credit union’s members and staff. Recently, HiTel FCU decided to move its business to the Fed. A number of factors influenced the decision to work with the Federal Reserve Banks, including cost savings, a peer recommendation, dedicated customer support sites and a wide variety of education and training resources.
FedComplete Packages provide credit unions, like HiTel FCU, with a great opportunity to save with an all-electronic service package that bundles payment services with an access solution — all for one monthly fee. HiTel FCU experienced a 25% savings by deciding to work directly with the Fed and selecting the FedComplete 200 Plus package, which perfectly met the needs of its lower transaction volumes while allowing it to process its own payments through a FedLine Advantage® Plus connection. HiTel FCU now enjoys transactions for FedACH® Services, Fedwire® Funds Services and the suite of Check 21-enabled Services, which includes FedReceipt®, FedReceipt Plus for Returns, FedForward® and FedReturn® Services. In addition, the package complements the transaction volumes experienced by the credit union, which enables the Fed’s pricing to be both competitive and economical.
“When considering both pricing and service levels, the Federal Reserve Banks have far exceeded my expectations.”
Cheung indicated that, at first, the team at HiTel FCU had concerns about moving services to the Federal Reserve Banks because of the time difference between Hawaii and the mainland, service quality, system compatibility and working with a new platform. The team connected with the manager of a small local credit union, who helped Cheung and her team feel more comfortable about the move.
“Understandably, a lot of credit unions are apprehensive about the word 'Federal' and 'Bank'. I am glad we made the right move, as it's one of the best decisions I ever made in my more than 15 years at the credit union."
Having a good support system was critical to the HiTel FCU team, as change can be uncomfortable for everyone. HiTel identified a couple of challenges that needed to be addressed:
In hindsight, Cheung noted that the challenges faced were truly minor, rather than major, obstacles and the team was happy to make the adjustments as new software and hardware brought the credit union systems up-to-date and did not require additional staff.
Even more beneficial, these investments proved to have a relatively short payback period, because the cost savings from the conversion to the Fed services were immediate and significant.
In addition to peer support, HiTel FCU found the staff at the Federal Reverse Banks to be very easy to work with throughout the transition. To simplify the move, the credit union shifted its electronic check, wire transfer and automated clearing house (ACH) services to the Fed over a period of several months, giving staff time to become proficient in each. “Throughout the process, the Fed staff we interacted with and our account executive, Manny Ramirez, proved to be knowledgeable, efficient and patient. They understood the needs of my organization and looked for a solution for all of our needs,” stated Cheung. She also appreciates the consistently high levels of service she receives adding, “Fed staff is always able to help while being accessible, professional and courteous.”
To get a feel for how the Fed’s systems and services work, the team at HiTel FCU attended several Federal Reserve Bank events, in addition to using our online education tutorials. We offer a wide variety of opportunities, such as Getting Started with the Fed, that are free and available to all depository institutions. You, too, can take advantage of the free educational curriculum we offer – just sign up today!
Are you ready, in wedding speak, to “tie the knot” and make the move to working directly with the Fed? Contact your local account executive to learn how our FedComplete Packages or à la carte services may be the right solution 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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