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Helping Members Through Uncertain Times: Key Considerations For Credit Unions

The proper response will make a big impact but needs to be comprehensive and consider multiple risks.

Credit unions have always been in the business of helping people, and through the current crisis, we see more evidence of that, as organizations step up in countless ways to help their members.

And, they’re doing so in a complex and ever-changing environment. The COVID-19 pandemic presents several complex issues for credit unions and leaders. Credit union leaders need to ensure the most critical threats are being mitigated against andconsidering the ways the crisis may evolve. Your credit union organization must be flexible in the ideology and decision making.

A few key considerations:

Health And Safety

Credit unions should be prioritizing the health and safety of employees, their families, business partners, and the communities they serve through communications and policies designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That means efforts to support containmentthrough remote work programs, enhanced cleaning schedules, temporary branch closures, and stringent return-to-work protocols.


The uncertainty and unprecedented onset of COVID-19 can (and has) led to confusing and conflicting information. While a credit union should not be the principal source of information about the virus, employees, volunteers, and members should be providedclear messaging about the impact on credit union operations. Frequent communication will serve to answer key questions and reduce anxiety.

Operational and Risk Oversight

As credit union leaders, special thought should be given to efforts to identify and manage potentially significant risks to business operations. Unfortunately, risk associated with credit union business doesn’t go away; in fact, in some cases, itcrops up in different places as you look to meet your members’ needs. COVID-19 has had an impact on the functioning of internal controls, online transactions, employment practices, data protection, flexible work arrangements, and even vendordue diligence.

Key Person Risks and Business Continuity Plans

An up-to-date emergency succession plan identifies individuals who can step into key positions in the event a key person is exposed to, or contracts COVID-19, and is unavailable to meet the duties of their role. And once the dust settles a bit, this isa good opportunity to learn from what has worked well and not so well and adapt your credit union’s business continuity plans.

Prepare Your Members and Employees for COVID-19 Scams

As your members attempt to cope with the implications of COVID-19, they also need to brace themselves for disaster fraud a phenomenon that crops up with post-catastrophe chaos to separate individuals from their money. Recent scams have been connectedto requests for medical supplies, treatment advice, non-existent charities, or simple phishing scams and malicious websites and apps looking to get quick clicks. There will also most likely be several scams to cash in on stimulus payment depositsand treasury checks.

For additional insights on risks brought on by COVID-19 or additional resources to help your credit union, your employees, and your members; check out CUNA Mutual Group’s Protection Resource Center, related RISK Alerts, and CUNA Mutual Group’s Stronger Together page.

By working together, we can keep credit unions strong so that we can do our best to support members, employees, and local communities through this crisis and into the future.

Carlos Molina is Senior Risk Consultant at CUNA Mutual Group. He has more than 15 years with CUNA Mutual’s Risk & Compliance Solutions team consulting with credit unions helping them make confident decisions with unparalleled risk experience and insights. He is based in New Jersey and specializes in the risk areas of security, internal controls, and employment practices.

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries, and affiliates. CORP-3047445.1-0420-0522

This article is sponsored by a recognized solutions provider in the credit union industry. Callahan & Associates does not endorse vendors or the solutions they offer, and the views and opinions offered here might not reflect those of Callahan. If you are interested in contributing an article on CreditUnions.com, please contact the Callahan team at ads@creditunions.com or 1-800-446-7453.
May 4, 2020

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