WyHy FCU: Diving into Data Analytics as a Mid-Sized CU

A $300M Wyoming-based credit union finds big value in an actually affordable, turn-key data analytics option

WyHy FCU’s executive team realized early on that they couldn’t sit on the sidelines while larger credit unions and banks reaped the benefits of a data analytics program. They knew they had to find a solution in order to stay relevant and connect with their changing membership, but how…when the cost of a data analytics solution is well into the $100K+ range?

This, unfortunately, is the common question among small and mid-sized credit unions (those with under $750M in assets): The barrier to entry is outrageously high for implementing a data analytics solution. But WyHy knew of a new data solution that was designed specifically for this group, called Cuery, and they were quick to act in 2020. One year in, WyHy CIO and long-time credit union champion Eric Valla shares his story.

🤔 The Challenge:

How does a small/mid-sized credit union realistically afford a data analytics solution, not to mention the costs of staff to manage it, like programmers and data analysts?

“Obtaining decisionable data was a huge issue for us, like it is for most credit unions."

Eric Valla, CIO of WyHy FCU

Introduction

In this case study, we will learn how Aux’s unique data analytics platform Cuery allowed a $300M credit union access to a best-in-class data analytics solution at a fraction of the cost of the competition, and insights into WyHy’s journey. Areas of focus include:

  • Quick wins the credit union has received since implementation
  • Additional aspects to consider in the data analytics process
  • Common fears surrounding a data analytics solution
  • Hesitation will only create a bigger gap and competitive disadvantage

Quick Wins for WyHy

Credit union decision makers know that they need a data analytics solution. They know that data is important and dashboards are exciting. The problem lies in what to do with the data. They want to make sure they can make decisions based on data that provides insights rather than just an aggregation of a slew of data. Credit unions need the data to be decisional and ripe with opportunities for quick wins – the low hanging fruit, if you will.

“Obtaining decisionable data was a huge issue for us, like it is for most credit unions,” says WyHy CIO Valla. “Cuery has helped us close that gap tremendously. Instead of having our data in multiple systems, we’ve been working with Tim [Tibbals, VP of Data Analytics at Aux] on our core system, Symitar, to make our PSCU credit card data and Alkami online mobile banking data flow into the platform. We’re moving from TCI to Meridian Link for account opening and loan origination, so we plan to have that feed very soon, as well.”

Have you heard the term “single version of truth?” Chances are, if you’ve so much as dipped your toe into the world of data analytics, you’ve heard this term. But what does it even mean? In layman’s terms, it means seeing a full profile of your member that is complete with every product and channel they use. It’s important because the crux of data is that it needs to be integrated together to see the big picture, not in disparate, siloed buckets.

“I know this term gets overused, but the single source of truth gives us that ability to data mine and make decisions more quickly using the Cuery tool.” – CIO Valla

“We are still working on many wins and data, but having different dashboards for our various users, like lending, deposits, and marketing, provide key ratios for our operations people – and those are quick wins,” says Valla. “Real-time ratios like these are table stakes for any type of data analytics system. Also, we rolled out Zelle® as another payment option, which uses Cuery to sift through transactional data to reveal the members who are using Venmo® or PayPal® and say, ‘Hey, we offer Zelle, and the transaction is instantaneous!’ Another big quick win that that we’re marching towards is offering the ‘next best product’ that fits an individual member’s needs.”

👏The Benefit:

Access to complete data, which can drive strategy, decision-making, understanding member needs and next best product.

Common Fears Surrounding Data Analytics

Aux has found there is quite a bit of fear among small and mid-sized credit unions regarding data analytics – and rightly so. It can be paralyzing. WyHy seemed to be an exception, diving in fearlessly and boldly. What was their strategy and how did they overcome these fears?

“It’s the fear of the unknown,” explains Valla. “It’s the big animal that credit unions really don’t know how to tackle, unless you’re a large organization. Implementing a data analytics solution can take a lot of time and energy. For all parties to come together and to make it a reality is challenging. But was it as difficult as I thought it would be? No.” The key is having a strong backbone of supporting vendors and partners, which is one of Cuery’s key differentiators. A credit union need not have a software engineer, SQL coder, or data scientist to make Cuery work. The Cuery product provides this, via a partnership with TIBCO (recently awarded the2020 DEVIES Award for Data Development and Architecture!). Using a shared services model, small and mid-sized credit unions have access to the exact same technologies and expertise, but at a fraction of the cost.

“You guys made the process pretty seamless. Obviously, there are many moving pieces, but the Aux Team and their supporting vendors and business partners made it less difficult (and less expensive) than if a credit union were to try to go and acquire those skills and talents on their own,” – CIO Valla.

Other data analytics providers typically customize the entire process, hence the huge price differential compared to Cuery.  And, once you’re on their system, every little adjustment, tweak, or support costs you extra.  With their systems you’ll probably need your own support team with data analysts, SQL coders, and operations specialists.  The other providers are designed for larger credit unions with deep pockets.  They make more revenue that way: it’s not advantageous for them to focus on the smaller and medium-sized credit unions whose revenue stream is less. But that’s Aux’s mission — to help small and medium-sized credit unions succeed. The revenue is secondary.

The Case for a Data-Driven Culture

When it comes to implementing a data analytics solution at your credit union, there is a fine line between being prepared and being immobile. It can be a big shift in a credit union’s culture as it involves virtually every key player in the organization. When’s the last time your credit union had to orchestrate something on this level? And herein lies the issue for many credit unions: they don’t feel prepared, and thus, do nothing.

If you focus on a few critical components, like creating a plan for a data driven culture, it can seem less daunting. Take it from Valla: “You need to make sure you have a data-driven culture and an executive level of support for your data analytics initiatives. You need to make sure the whole leadership team is on board, and to be honest, this can be a little challenging because people don’t like change.”

Valla says while preparation is critical, waiting for everything to be perfect can be a barrier to success. “It’s impossible to cross every T and dot every I before launching a data analytics solution. There’s something to be said for jumping in and just getting your feet wet.” Having quick wins and simple, easy-to-use reports available can make the transition to a data culture more palatable for the team. “Sometimes, you just have to keep it a little bit simple. That’s where we’re at right now; just show the quick wins, and get some adoption from the team. My advice to credit unions who run lean: do not make creating a data-driven culture an afterthought to purchasing the tool. This component has been challenging for us as we’re very lean and we don’t have many different resources.” Aux has created several resources for creating a data-driven culture and data governance– feel free to download them.

The Cuery Cost-Benefit

Price is an enormous decision-making component for most credit unions. Especially among small and mid-sized organizations, there is a real need for the decision-making team to feel they are doing right by their members and acting fiduciarily responsible. Through years of R&D, Aux has found the price tag of a robust data analytics solution to be the biggest problem for credit unions. Most offerings are just plain too expensive, and this is exactly why Cuery was created.

“It is super affordable and it’s competitive,” says Valla. “Before we engaged you guys, we were looking at other data analytics companies. They were quoting us six figures and telling us there would be quite a bit of work on our end. And the way Cuery prices the different data source connections make a big difference. Cuery costs less but we get way more than with other guys.”

Here’s a breakdown of what Cuery offers from a competitive price point, from Valla’s perspective:

  1. We have access to a variety of professional services, from road-mapping to data scientists.
  2. We reap the benefits of Cuery working directly with TIBCO and other top players.
  3. With other data analytics offerings, you get a tool, but you’ll need to know SQL to do your data mining. Not with Cuery.
  4. Having Cuery removes the requirement for skill and knowledge, as well as potentially needing a dedicated FTE to support the product.
  5. Cuery is entirely cloud-based (meaning we can access it from anywhere, not just a specific computer or server).
  6. Cuery is constantly making improvements and doesn’t keep us in the dark.

“So yes, I think it’s reasonably priced. I think it’s competitive in the market space and costs a lot less than some of those huge players out there” [which we won’t name]. To add insult to injury, Valla laments about the outrageous barrier to entry in even getting a data analytics provider to talk to small credit union. “I know they won’t even talk to my credit union – we’d need to be a $1B+.”

“The cost-benefit is great. Cuery pays for itself with the return on investment that we get from it and into the future.” – CIO Valla

What Happens if Your Credit Union Stands on the Sidelines?

Valla is swift with his answer to this question: “I think they’re going to continue to be left behind. They’re not going to continue to be relevant.”

Up until this point, this case study has focused on what happens when you implement a data analytics solution. But what happens when you don’t? Aux has found that many credit unions are pushing the project into the next year, and then the next – hoping when the pandemic “settles down,” they can then tackle implementing data analytics.

But there are two major problems with waiting.

1. Continuing to make decisions that are not backed by data

“You can’t keep making decisions based on your gut instead of data,” says Valla. When COVID-19 hit, many credit unions we knew were going to focus on a new branch, mobile conversions, etc., but avoid data. You have to do the data part to support all your strategic initiatives going forward. “By not having data to back up your business decisions, it puts you at a severe disadvantage over big banks, FinTechs and the Amazons of the world.”

2. Increasing member friction and while competitors decrease it

The problem is that with each passing month – day, even – you lose members to competitors who are using a data solution. “The longer you wait, you’re just going to be that much further behind the eight ball in obtaining a solution and being able to use it. Implementing this type of product is not a quick journey. However, you’ll have a return on investment by being able to use this data to create member journeys and campaigns, and you’re getting revenue and growth back.”

“My question to the credit unions who are waiting: What else are you working on from a strategic level that that is more important than data? Everything feeds into it.” – CIO Valla

Conclusion

Aux understands that creating a strategy and implementing a data analytics solution is not the easiest task for an executive team. In fact, it may be one of the more challenging endeavors they tackle. However, the reward is deeply impactful to all areas of the credit union, and frankly, imperative to small and mid-sized credit unions survival. Valla will tell you firsthand that it wasn’t easy. But with a partner like Cuery standing with you, it can be done – with the resources you need and at a price you can afford. Dip your toe in, the water’s just fine!

Download this case study in PDF form

About WyHy FCU

WyHy Federal Credit Union was chartered in December 1953 for Wyoming Highway Department employees and their families. Seven members each contributed $5 and the credit union was born… with assets totaling $35. Those founding members believed in the Credit Union philosophy of “People Helping People” and to consider each member’s situation individually and provide prompt financial advice to help members manage their finances.

Today, WyHy has branch locations in both Cheyenne and Casper, as well as over 5,600 branch locations and nearly 30,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide with CO-OP Shared Branching. WyHy has continued to grow by opening their field of membership to anyone who lives, works, worships or attends school in our great State of Wyoming. Today, WyHy is nearly $270,000,000 in assets with more than 15,000 Members.

Learn more at wyhy.org

Wondering if Cuery could help your credit union? Reach out to us for a zero-salesy, zero-pushy chat.👇

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