Message from President/CEO, Dave Larson
Earlier this year, I sent you an email, asking about your experience in being a member of Affinity Plus and encouraged you to share your personal feedback directly with me. My email was sent at a time when some of the big banks continued to make news for unethical behavior. I wanted to hear from our members to ensure you feel valued as a member of our organization and that you felt encouraged to bring forward feedback to improve the cooperative organization that I have the honor of leading.
Over the last few months, I have been humbled by the outpouring of response from hundreds of you. Many of you shared positive experiences in working with the credit union. As expected, I did also hear feedback on areas where we can improve. I am incredibly appreciative of you taking the time to share your ideas, thoughts and feedback with me, all in an effort to improve Affinity Plus.
I had the opportunity to talk with members in several different states and in all different life stages. I talked to some who have been proud members for 50+ years, as well as members that only recently learned about credit unions and just opened their membership. I heard about the need for more branches in new markets, as well as requested improvements to existing locations. I was touched by several of you who wanted to recognize individual employees, teams and departments. I gained insight on your ideas on how we can make the credit union stronger, not only for you but for all members. I want you to know I personally read or listened to each and every message you shared with me. I even got a kick out of a few members who emailed me and asked, “Is this really coming from the CEO?” to which I replied, “Yes.”
I recognize that we don’t always get everything right. One thing I know from this business is that nobody is particularly happy when they get turned down for a loan. Please know that our intent isn’t to make you feel bad or frustrated – although I understand that sometimes happens. Our employees truly want to help members, and they have the responsibility to do what they think is best for the member’s financial situation and what’s best for the cooperative.
I also wanted to follow up and share with you some actions we are taking, many related to the feedback you shared with us, and some based on what we had already started. As a member, I want to ensure you are aware of the changes we are in the midst of as we work to make improvements to the credit union.
New & Improved Branches
I am excited to announce that we have signed the contracts to open our first West Metro branch this summer. A presence in the West Metro was a very popular piece of feedback you shared with me, not only from my communication, but also through your comments many of you have shared with us for years. The new location will be at 4231 Winnetka Avenue North in New Hope, in the heart of the redeveloped City Center near the new Hy-Vee. It will feature a fresh new look, expanded technology, digital marketing and community elements. This is our first step into the West Metro, and our teams are working internally to bring greater awareness of Affinity Plus in this community in anticipation of the branch opening. Stay tuned!
Additionally, we will be relocating our branch in Cambridge this spring to 1990 Second Ave SE, in a space that will feature a large lobby, additional office space and multiple drive-through lanes. We will open our first community branch in Mankato this summer at 1600 Madison Avenue, which will complement the branch already on campus at MSU-Mankato. And we will expand and remodel the St. Cloud State University Campus branch to provide students with a new experience in the fall. Finally, we have purchased land in Grand Rapids and look forward to a new and improved location to better serve our members in this community.
Perhaps it goes without saying, but a great deal of thought, review and analysis goes into making these decisions. We do cost comparisons, review budgets and consider the long-term viability of a particular market. We analyze data and branch traffic to identify how to provide the best service to our members. We review member feedback to identify themes. All to help us make the best-possible decisions.
We know that a new branch won’t satisfy everyone, and we can’t possibly have a branch within walking distance of every home or office. That’s why we’re making significant investments in our mobile and online banking offerings, as you will read about below.
Affinity Plus – like all financial institutions – is experiencing a significant increase in online banking and mobile-app usage. Our members are no different – they like convenience and access, too! That’s why upgrading our online and mobile banking platforms are at the top of our strategic agenda. We have new leadership in this area, and we’re working hard to make improvements that allow members to manage their finances simply – wherever you are. Watch for additional information toward the end of the year as we make significant upgrades to improve the digital member experience.
We are also undertaking a major initiative over the course of the next two years to convert our core operating system in late 2018. This is the credit union’s main system – the engine that processes all member transactions. As our credit union has grown in size and sophistication over the years, we are in need of a more robust platform to ensure that employees and members have the best technology available. The change to our core is an important step at Affinity Plus as we look to the future!
Insurance Program Promotional Mailings Discontinued
A few years ago, Affinity Plus entered into a partnership to offer discounted auto, home and life insurance options to our members. Over time, we’ve heard negative feedback from some of our members related to this insurance. We listened to this feedback, and as a result all mail related to this program has been discontinued. The products will still be available, so those who have purchased policies will continue to have service uninterrupted.
Your Member Security
Following my email in January, I received a number of responses from members asking, “Is this really you?” From a member security standpoint, I wanted to remind you we will never send an email to members asking for your username, personal information, account information or passwords. Your credit union does not send unsolicited emails asking you to provide this information to us, so be very cautious if you receive an email that appears to have come from Affinity Plus and asks these questions. Please notify us right away if you receive anything that seems suspicious. We take member security very seriously and take every effort to protect you. Your awareness and caution is the single best security defense there is to protecting your information.
I am incredibly proud to lead Affinity Plus. We want to continue to hear from you – especially if you feel we have opportunities to improve. When you receive surveys from us, please respond! You can reach me directly by calling (651) 312-9262 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You are also welcome to visit any of our 28 branches across the state, call and speak to our capable staff at (800) 322-7228, or connect with us via chat.
Thank you for being a member of Affinity Plus!
Affinity Plus President/CEO