Patelco Boosts Member Service And Cash Availability With A Homegrown Check Hold System

The California credit union offers $5,000 to $50,000 of immediate cash availability based on the depth of member engagement with their credit union.

Patelco Credit Union($5.5B, Pleasanton, CA) is using a homegrown tier system for check holds to improve the member experience and reduce calls for help.


Patelco Credit Union
Data as of 12.31.16

HQ: Pleasanton, CA
MEMBERS: 307,803
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 12.7%
ROA: 0.97%

Called Co-Relate, the system uses relationship scoring to create five levels of immediate funds availability to members presenting checks in a branch.

The tiers range from $5,000 to $50,000, and each month Patelco refreshes each member’s tier level through its core processing system. This allows the California credit union to account for changes such as newly delinquent loans or newly adopted products and services.

Co-Relate officially went live in December 2015 and since then has reduced member phone calls to the contact center by 20% to 25%, says Lani Apolonio, Patelco’s vice president of operations.ContentMiddleAd

It also has helped us provide a much more consistent member experience, the 37-year Patelco employee says. It takes away some of the judgment calls, so we don’t have members getting immediate funds at one branch and then not at another.

Co-Relate tiers apply not only to checks members present at Patelco’s 36 branches but also to checks members are depositing anywhere in the country through the CO-OP shared branching network.

Lani Apolonio, VP of Operations, Patelco Credit Union

We wanted to ensure equitable treatment to members no matter where they are and give them predictable access to their funds, Apolonio says. That helps them better control their finances and, we think, deepen their relationship with us as their primary financial institution.

Ensuring Availability

The Co-Relate system is the work of a committee comprising representatives of different business units at Patelco who came together to find a way to ensure some cash availability for any check that passed routine inspection at the teller window.

Members whose checks pass inspection receive cash availability based on relationship factors such as the number of deposit products and loans they have, how active their checking accounts have been, and how long they have been a member.

Checks that don’t pass inspection at the teller window are still subject to a two-day to four-day hold. And checks submitted via mobile deposit follow a different set of risk rules.

Depending on the image being presented, a check might end up on review, and certain dollar amounts automatically go to risk review, Apolonio says. If we have reason to believe a check will not pay, we delay it and email the member immediately.

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Co-Relate tiers are giving Patelco a view into its member relationships, making the system helpful in areas beyond check deposits.

It’s like a CRM module that influences other decisions, such as whether to make a loan when the FICO score or some other factor is questionable, Apolonio says.

And although the check hold system might be reducing some non-interest income in the form of fees for returned checks, it’s a price Patelo is willing to pay.

We gain member trust because they know the funds are there and they know we believe in them, Apolonio says. Member trust leads to member participation in our other products and services.

We gain member trust because they know the funds are there and they know we believe in them.

Lani Apolonio, VP of Operations, Patleco Credit Union

That member penetration will serve to boost metrics that already show Patelco doing well in peer-to-peer comparisons.

For example, its fourth quarter 2016 share draft penetration was 73.3%, compared with 60.27% average for billion-dollar credit unions, according to data from Callahan Associates. The average for all U.S. credit unions is 51.86%. Overall, Patelco has a score of 87.17 out of 100 in Callahan’s Return of the Member (ROM) system, which ranks credit unions by, among other things, the depth of their member engagement.

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The numbers are nice, but they are not the credit union’s end goal.

The driving force here is to give our members a smoother road to financial freedom, Apolonio says. Doing that will help us get more share of their wallet, too, and changing the tier levels monthly when needed shows we’re handling risk responsibly, too.

March 20, 2017

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