There are a lot of considerations for any organization going through a merger. It takes cooperation and patience to combine cultures, assets and staff during a merger, but for credit unions, the effect on members is a major factor to keep at the forefront. Members often come to credit unions to experience a better value through more customization, better service and a more personal banking experience. A merger might be unsettling for members, so it’s important to reassure them that their experience will not be negatively impacted by the changes a merger will bring. To actually follow through on that, maintaining a tight lock on member information and data will be essential. Here are some tips regarding member data security that credit unions should know when embarking on a merger.
Begin by ranking the importance of all the data and segment by data type. This might include checks, financial statements and reports, loan agreements, etc. Ranking this data will give it a score that reflects its sensitivity, access level, retention period and how critical the data is to your CU and members. This will allow your credit union to lock down the most sensitive and important data first and move deeper into data that is ranked at a lower priority.
After ranking the data, group it into 3 different levels:
- Critical: must-have information that is used frequently and requires immediate access
- Necessary: must-have information that is used infrequently
- Helpful: information that is helpful to your CU, but not required in day-to-day operations
Critical data would include member checks and statements from the last 12 months. Starting with frequently used data will allow the conversion process to run more smoothly. Many credit unions choose to work with a third-party provider specializing in data conversion because they are versed in multiple systems and processes, while the credit unions involved in the merger might struggle to shift between all programs and software.
Necessary information would include member information older than 12 months, archives, reports and more that still needs to be on record, but is not essential nor requires immediate access. Depending on the merger, some credit unions might choose to migrate all that information over to the new system, while others could simply integrate a commercial search tools that would allow all that information to remain on its existing platform. For these older records, commercial search tools can be a good cost-savings option because low-use information does not necessarily need to be fully integrated with the new system.
All other information falls into the helpful category. This information can be sorted through by CU staff overtime, and they can decide whether it needs to be archived or tossed.
Consolidate and Convert
Once all the data has been combed through, the CUs involved in the merger can assess what products and services will stay or go. There will likely be loans that CU 1 offers that don’t fit the needs of CU 2’s members, and vice versa. Evaluating the needs of all members and carefully choosing products and services that will fit most members needs will lead to the least amount of friction. After all the offerings have been aligned, the only thing left to do is convert. The actual flip of the switch is the easy part: It’s the months of preparation beforehand that require much consideration, patience, and perseverance.
Mergers are unsettling for both the members and credit unions, but a well planned and thought out conversion process will help prevent huge mishaps with member data. Improper data management during a merger can create up to $275,000 in avoidable costs for your credit union. To avoid crippling fees and loss of trust from members, plan the path of converting member data and the process will be much more simple for both members and your credit union.