Managing ‘Business as Usual’ During a Pandemic: 10 Ways Financial Institutions Are Adapting
Produced by Allied Solutions | March 20, 2020
We’re living in an unprecedented time where doing ‘business as usual’ is hard, if not impossible. Globally, we are facing a pandemic that has quickly changed daily life as we know it.
As financial business leaders, COVID-19’s impact is being felt as we navigate how best to maintain services to support consumers, protect our employees, and do our part to limit the virus’ spread throughout our community.
Things are changing daily, which can make decisions hard to reach and even tougher to act on. In this blog, we’re sharing 10 ways credit unions, banks, and other financial institutions are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for trends we’re noting in the industry and helpful resources to help your institution establish next steps for business continuity.
1. Evaluating and Acting on Coronavirus Hardships
Federal and state financial regulators are asking institutions to be flexible and responsive to customer needs. Some actions institutions have taken include allowing skipped loan payments, lowering credit card interest rates, providing emergency personal loans, and offering resources to help educate consumers about how they can work past this uncertain time. Additionally, businesses may feel a financial crunch as they face possible lay-offs, loan repayments, and other financial burdens. Many institutions are focused on helping their members through this unprecedented time and are showing a willingness to explore exceptions to policies and procedures to help alleviate economic stress.
2. Sharing Availability of Web and Mobile Solutions
As in-person interactions become limited, businesses are shifting to web solutions to respond to customers’ needs. Many retailers are waiving shipping fees, while service providers are waiving registration fees so consumers can have online access. For financial institutions, consumer-facing online tools are becoming essential to support customers’ business needs. Tech-equipped institutions will be better able to weather this event as they have online channels to communicate, respond, and continue business operations remotely. Communicate with your customers and members about available online service options.
3. Encouraging Cleaning Best Practices
Financial institutions are encouraging and practicing routine cleaning and hygiene practices internally at their locations, but also externally with consumers. According to the CDC, COVID-19 is spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. This highlights the importance of daily routine cleaning in community and personal work spaces. Facilities should be routinely cleaned, especially frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, light switches, desks, tables, keyboards, etc.) with a disinfectant solution. Encourage employees to practice safe hygienic practices, such as regularly washing their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60-95% alcohol, not touching their face, and coughing/sneezing directly into a tissue or their upper arms instead of their hands.
4. Educating Around Social Distancing
Social distancing is meant to help prevent the spread of disease by encouraging individuals and crowds to separate physically from one another. Practically, it means staying 6 feet away from people and avoiding large crowds. This practice has already resulted in the cancellation of many events, concerts, sports, and gatherings, with many businesses sending their employees home to work remote. Local governments are also closing gyms, stores, and restaurants to enforce the practice. Financial institutions should help educate employees and consumers about social distancing and how they can help ‘flatten the curve.’
5. Closing Branch Locations Temporarily
Closing branch locations does impair certain operations (i.e., loan offerings, direct-to-consumer sales, and insurance verification) and may cause increased call volume. Financial institutions are implementing creative measures in handling operations, such as distributing call center locations across multiple branches to give employees more space to work or rotating branch coverage so employees can continue to provide coverage and work. Others are increasing the digital presence of consumer solutions, waiving certain criteria surrounding solutions, and encouraging consumers to call in to discuss options.
6. Offering Remote Work Options to Employees
Many businesses are quickly exploring remote work options that allow them to keep employees safe and maintain business continuity. This flexibility has also extended to situations involving quarantine, sickness, and parents home with kids. IT solutions are being put in place to allow remote access and effectively meet customers’ needs.
7. Adapting to Many Industry, Vendor, and Distributor Event Cancellations
Globally, industry conferences and events have been cancelled or postponed. Tradeshows, conferences, and client events are opportunities for brand visibility, partner sponsorships, and sales networking. With these cancellations, business impact is greatly reduced. Additionally, many credit unions are postponing regular board meetings, an important piece of the buying decision for many vendors and providers. Vendors and financial institutions are having to adapt to a disrupted sales cycle and find virtual ways to connect.
8. Supporting Geographically-Specific Policies and Practices
The United States is big. While all 50 states are now reporting cases, California, Washington and New York (as of this writing) are reporting the highest number of confirmed cases. The virus’ spread has different levels of impact in different locations that financial institutions are developing to adapt to changing local policies, procedures, and safety protocols. It’s important to note that different protocols are being adopted in different places.
9. Ongoing Communication to Employees and Consumers
Financial institutions globally are developing business continuity plans. They need to communicate regularly with both their internal employees and external consumers, members, and vendors. Many institutions are creating internal committees or task forces that meet regularly to assess the most recent developments and discuss how their businesses should react. Communication through regularly emailing employees, updating intranet sites, and updating external sites for consumers and other external stakeholders is critical.
10. Identifying Essential vs. Nonessential Business Needs
Limited branch access has led financial institutions to use adaptive methods to meet customers’ needs, such as only using drive-up windows or websites for loan applications, working only by appointment, and shuffling employees around as they continue to identify critical operations.
Globally, businesses are assessing and reassessing the pandemic situation and doing their best to manage a ‘business as usual’ mindset in unusual times. These are just some ways we’re observing our industry rising to the challenge.
Below are some helpful resources different businesses are utilizing to share and communicate COVID-19 pandemic information throughout the industry.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) CDC Resources
- CDC Environmental Cleaning & Disinfection Recommendations
- John Hopkins University Hub on Social Distancing
- National Credit Union Association (NCUA)
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About Allied Solutions
Allied Solutions, LLC is one of the largest providers of insurance, lending, and marketing products to financial institutions in the US. Allied Solutions uses technology based products and services customized to meet the needs of 4,000 clients along with a portfolio of innovative products and services from a wide variety of providers. Allied Solutions maintains over 15 regional offices and service centers around the country and is a subsidiary of Securian Financial Group, Inc. Allied Solutions has tools and resources that can help you keep an eye on the potential areas of impact, protect against collateral losses, and stay on top of any new events, bulletins, and regulations as they happen.