LSCU holds webinar covering credit union response to pandemic

The LSCU hosted a webinar for affiliated credit unions focusing on reopening plans as federal and state leaders are giving new directives. The dialogue between LSCU and webinar participants ranged from plans to protect staff and members during the reopening process and the various, careful steps to transition operations in the coming weeks and months.

LSCU President Jared Ross led the webinar, beginning with an overview of the three LSCU states’ reopening plans. Each state governor is taking a different approach to how their state will reopen, with the common denominator of continued social distancing.

A poll was conducted, asking participating credit unions about their current outlook on reopening, including asking when they plan to reopen lobbies, what safety precautions credit unions will implement upon reopening and what areas are the biggest concerns.

Jared then introduced a panel of credit union representatives from each of the  three states, including David LeNoir, president/CEO Gulf Coast FCU in Mobile, Ala.; Roy Bibb, president/CEO of MidSouth Federal Credit Union in Macon, Ga.; and John Wintermeier, chief business officer, and Jennifer Galley, COO, of Achieva Credit Union in Dunedin, Fla.

Each panelist discussed their strategy for reopening and how they have managed staff and members throughout the pandemic. David explained that Gulf Coast FCU is paying hazard funds for employees on the front lines. The credit union has been handling the crisis with member appointments and drive-thru service. In anticipation of reopening lobbies, the credit union is adding tempered-glass barriers and plexi-glass shields to limit employee and member exposure.

Only five people will be allowed in lobbies at a time and floor markings will guide them to social distancing expectations. David also duplicated teams to be sure there are two forces to cover needs if one team is affected by the virus.

Roy said that from the outset, MidSouth FCU scattered different people in departments throughout the building to prevent the outage of an entire department if someone was exposed. More than 20 percent of the credit union workforce is teleworking with lenders and call centers employees working from home, along with some of the accounting staff.

All branches have remained open with drive-thru services, and the next step will be to open branches to appointments. Roy said the credit union is meeting member needs, even if they have had to wait in lines, at times. Because the credit union converted to phone lending five or six years ago, lending has not been affected.

The credit union will open with plexi-glass shields and floor guidelines, as well as monitors at the doors of each branch to limit numbers. He says the credit union is in no rush to open fully and will carefully assess risks versus needs: “We’re not looking to be the first to market, so to speak. We are meeting members needs and meeting our fiduciary responsibilities.”

John and Jen from Achieva Credit Union each shared their insight from a credit union with 430 employees and 22 branches. One of the first steps taken was to close corporate headquarters where more than 200 employees worked. All are now working from home.

At branches, members and non-members are waiting in their cars for appointments and are called when they can come into the branch for their scheduled time. Drive-thru business only is available in 18 of the 22 branches where the credit union is meeting needs from HELOCs to notaries. Only those who need access to safe deposit boxes are allowed appointments in branches.

Jen said the next steps at reopening will involve by appointment only.

With drive-thru service only, John said they have been paring back to three or four employees per branch when normally they have ten. Many of those teams were reassigned with work from home kits. When the branches reopen, plexiglass protection will be in place.

John says the first week in June, they expect to bring back 25 percent of the team to the corporate headquarters with careful social distancing and masks required in common areas. They will create a care package for each employee with masks and hand sanitizer as they operate in a new environment. There are plans to help alleviate stress for the credit union team with fun theme days, mailing thank you cards and sending care packages.

“Our strategy is to get through it and understand more about what we have asked our team to do and possibly look at some sort of bonus strategy at the end,” Jen explained.

After the panel, a follow-up poll asked if credit unions were paying hazard pay. The results were: 18% have, 73 percent have not and 9% are thinking about.

The webinar also covered concerns about members coming in wearing masks, and most credit unions seem to accept that as a new normal. Some will ask them to briefly remove the masks for video documentation.

Some credit unions will take touch-less thermometer temperatures of employees and members. Others will not require those checks.

While the SBA is still not allowing credit unions to apply for Paycheck Protection Payment loans, the LSCU advocacy team is closely following lawmakers’ stance on the loans.

If you have additional questions or comments, please contact Jared at

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The League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates represents 302 credit unions in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, with a combined total of $175 billion in assets and more than 11.6 million members. LSCU & Affiliates provides legislative and regulatory advocacy; education and training; cooperative initiatives (including financial education outreach); public messaging; information services; and business solutions.

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