REACH Educational Session: Cultural Change is Key to Branch Transformation

Cultural change is key to branch transformation, a panel of credit union leaders told attendees at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues’ REACH Conference in Las Vegas, NV on Thursday.

A panel consisting of Financial Partners CU President and CEO Nader Moghaddam, Patelco CU President and CEO Erin Mendez, and Rivermark Community CU VP of Technology Rob Mills spoke at the conference held at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. The panel discussion was moderated by Malon Updike, director Global Interactive Services COE, NCR. The trio spoke on how branch transformation and organizational transformation strategies maximize key delivery channels and create a path for credit unions to become more effective in generating revenue.

Mendez—whose credit union, at $5-plus billion in assets, is the sixth largest in California and 24th largest in the U.S.—spoke on organizational transformation. The strategies Patelco uses is what she called old-fashion ones: people, product, and process “but underneath all of that is technology.”

On the people side the focus the credit union has is all about culture, Mendez said.

“It’s all about the people,” she said. “It’s about the internal team, and what we can do to make them successful, and it’s about their connection to their members, and what we can do to make the members successful.”

Moghaddam said Financial Partners—which has $1.2 billion in assets and 18 branches—is really focused on member service. The credit union transformed its branches in three phases: a branch network upgrade in 2007 followed by a smart branch experiment in 2013, and finally a branch transformation in 2015 and 2016. It has installed video tellers, and taking all teller transaction out of the branch. It freed those at the branch to do business development work. It also allowed them to deepened relationships with members.

The end result has worked well, Moghaddam said. ‘It has met our original vision to provide the best possible service for our members.”

Mills said the Beaverton, OR-based Rivermark—which has $780 million in assets—said its growth strategy was to build an innovative branch model that bridged physical and digital services. It launched what it called a member resource center. Interactive teller machines replaced the traditional teller row, a tech bar that provide member solutions specialists to work with members, and privacy rooms replaced traditional account officer desks.

The latter was “the biggest success,” Mills said. It allowed staff to have meaningful conversations with members.

In addition, removing friction from online experiences has led to a 60 percent increased membership and an increased in deposit products.

Having evolved into a premier destination for credit union leaders and others, the annual REACH convention has attracted those who are looking for powerful strategies they can implement at their credit union. The convention delivers dynamic, onsite tactics and ideas to embrace change in the financial services industry and evolving economy, and is hosted by the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues.

About the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues: With headquarters in Ontario, CA, the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues is the trade association representing the interests of 352 credit unions in California and Nevada, and their more than 10.7 million members. For more information, go to

Matt Wrye, Media Relations Manager
California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

Tina Ramos-Ingold, Media Relations Specialist
California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues

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