FI Highlight: NIHFCU on Better Solutions


In our latest FI Spotlight we spoke with Tom Poe, vice president of Remote Services at National Institutes of Health Federal Credit Union. Tom shared insights into how NIHFCU sets themselves apart from other credit unions, how they better serve members looking for loan products and what they are doing to meet the needs of their members.


Q: In a few of sentences, can you tell us about NIHFCU and how it differs from other credit unions?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Federal Credit Union was founded in 1940 as a credit union for employees of NIH. Since then, we have grown to be the nation’s largest credit union for the healthcare and biomedical community. With over $569 million in assets, we serve 42,000 members with affordable loans and banking solutions. In 2010, to better meet the financial needs of the growing local healthcare industry, we expanded our eligibility to include all biomedical and healthcare professionals in Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC and West Virginia.

Our members are physicians, researchers, nurses, scientists and healthcare professionals – some of the brightest minds in health and life sciences. Our mission is to provide comprehensive financial products and services for their unique personal and business needs – always saving them time and money.

Q: What types of new technology and services have you recently deployed to your members?

As you can imagine, many of our members are extremely mobile and short on free time. It’s critical that we are there when they need us the most, even if it is 6 AM after a shift ends. In addition to our extended hours call center, we have been rapidly expanding our mobile services to enable robust on-the-go banking. We offer full featured mobile and iPad banking applications and are readying mobile check deposit and a new Android tablet application.

To better engage our online users, we have implemented a new digital cross-selling technology that allows us to easily interview our digital banking users, identify a need and present a relevant and customized offer.

On the mortgage side, we have recently launched a new HomeAdvantage program that provides free tools for buying a home, including a preferred Realtor® network that provides a generous cash rebate at closing.

We continuously collect and analyze member feedback from multiple channels as part of our Voice of the Member program. It’s an important input as we prioritize new services and technology.

Q: How are you helping better serve members looking for loan products? Do you have any lessons learned you can share?

Beyond attractive loan rates and features, we place a strong emphasis on helping our members make the best individual financial decisions. This means spending one-on-one time to understand their current needs and goals, providing education and then recommending the best loan. To help facilitate this, we offer a variety of free no-obligation Financial Check-Ups for mortgage and home equity. Upon request, an NIHFCU loan specialist works with the member to analyze their existing loan terms and financing goals to create a personalized loan option. We have completed over 1,400 Mortgage Check-Ups for members, saving members an average of $4,800 a year. It’s a great lead generation tool for our lending team and our members appreciate the helpful advice without a hard sell.

We are an approved SBA lender in addition to our direct business lending. This allows us to better assist our business members looking to start a new healthcare practice or expand their existing operations. We are well positioned to provide the right sized solution for new or expanding businesses within our regional healthcare sector.

Q: How has NIHFCU used cross-selling to help improve relationships with members and help your credit union grow?

We approach every interaction as an opportunity to better understand the member and deepen our existing relationship. Increasing products per member is a key priority for NIHFCU and we rely heavily on both front-line staff and technology to deliver results. We conduct extensive training and hold monthly contests and blitzes to motivate employees.

On the digital front, Micronotes Cross-Sell is extremely effective at emulating the interviews that take place at branches or the call center. Available within Online Banking, the cross-selling interview typically takes about 30 seconds and may start with a question like, “We think we can lower your credit card interest payments, would that be helpful? Yes or No.” The member answers 2-3 questions about her financial product needs and preferences and selects a customized offer. The offer could be to apply for an auto loan, enroll in e-Statements or attend a home buying seminar. With a few clicks, we can convert the lead into a sale.

In just 30 days, we were able to generate $500,000 in new auto loan applications and $1 million in mortgage applications using this digital technology.

Q:  How were your members have affected by the recent government shutdown? What types of campaigns did you put in place to help these members?

We serve a large number of National Institutes of Health employees and contractors who were impacted by the Federal government shutdown. To assist members who experienced a disruption in pay, we offered a special loan with no interest for up to 60 days, along with other assistance including loan payment deferrals and overdraft fee reimbursement. Our commitment to serve the needs of our membership is what drives our credit union.

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Written by Staff