Truliant Federal Credit Union, a 66-year-old financial institution, has a singular and important mission: to improve the lives of its members. According to Sandeep Uthra, Truliant’s chief information officer, the credit union focuses on helping members make decisions that improve and help manage their financial lives. Unlike for-profit financial institutions, Truliant stays away from pushing products on its members. “We are a different kind of company,” he says.
Truliant has 230,000 members and assets in excess of $2.3bn and provides individuals and small businesses with products, services and guidance to reach their ‘life's goals’, including checking accounts, online and app banking, auto buying, certificates and business/financial advice, and auto and home loans. According to Uthra, Truliant’s USP is its member-centric approach. “First and foremost, we are a not-for-profit organization,” Uthra said. “That's the biggest difference between us and other banking institutions. But, more so, our goal is to improve each of our members’ lives, by working as trusted partner or provider of the right guidance to achieve their financial aims,” Uthra explains.
“While traditional banking is more about rates and fees, all of our products and policies are consumer, not market, driven. We put people before profit. We are member-centric. We’re not just here to make money. This helps our members create financial security within their own aspirations. ”
In the beginning
Uthra joined Truliant in late 2016 as CIO. He was charged with helping shepherd the strategic direction for Truliant’s overall technology landscape and to help drive its technology transformation. “As a trusted advisor in the company, I needed to get us to a point where we better understood business and members’ needs as per our company's objectives.”
Uthra’s highly strategic role was to help develop a roadmap that would achieve Truliant’s business plans by leveraging technology. “As part of the Chief Planning Team, I've worked hard to understand business needs as well as those of our members with technological solutions to achieve those goals. We really tailor our offerings as per our members’ needs to provide a top-notch member service.” Truliant targets locations where they are needed most and still operates a traditional guidance-based approach. “We're very big on face-to-face interactions. We don't want to remove the humanity in front of us. We will always keep face-to-face interactions.”
The human touch
While human-centric guidance is at the heart of Truliant’s approach, it is adopting more technologically advanced processes to better prepare for the future of banking. “Members are changing the way they interact with financial institutions,” he explains. “I think we all know that these days people compare our sector with companies like Amazon, right? They want us to be simple and nimble – like shopping on Amazon. This demand is driving us to create a simpler, more nimble and innovative personalization for all members. The consumer experience is king.”
“On the other hand, data is at the consumer’s fingertips from many external sources to compare product or services so they are well informed. It is in our best interest to know consumers’ personalized needs in a faster and agile way, to provide them with the best in-class experience. To make all this happen, we have focused on technology architecture, because speed is the new currency in financial institutions.
These days, technology architecture must be simple enough to support integrated channels and with an alignment of data to understand or predict members’ needs. “Simplification and Personalization is the game here,” Uthra explains. “Financial institutions should work to simplify their technology landscape and leverage microservices or APIs (application programming interfaces), to support faster and more nimble integration with cutting-edge products and services.”
When Uthra joined Truliant Federal Credit Union, he hired an enterprise architect to help build out business technology ecosystems to understand dynamics around business units, functions, processes and underlying technology. He then sat with internal teams and critical partners to identify friction between those ecosystem constructs. This resulted in a maturity index of processes and technology, which gave Truliant a direction for future investment to achieve its goal of simplification and optimization of the members’ journeys/interactions. “Our vision is to enable consumers of our technology with a simple, faster and personalized experience. “Our CEO and President truly understand how technology's going to really help take us forward in the personalized member service.
"We know that it’s important to adapt and evolve quickly in line with the fast-paced changes in today’s financial services landscape. Our goal is to create an impactful, best-in-class digital journey that is both dynamic and personal, and maintains an authentic human connection,” says Truliant President Todd Hall.
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The other important factor in Truliant’s technology transformation is partnership with fintechs and product companies for technology transformation. “Our strategic partners support us to achieve our vision. Companies like Fiserv who support our core banking platform perspective. MeridianLink provides lending capabilities and Flexential provides hosting capability. Veristor enables us with virtualized environment, to aid better manageability and performance and security of infrastructure – because it's not just about spending or investing in infrastructure, it's more about how to optimize that in terms of performance and security. Palo Alto Network really helped us to safeguard our technology and infrastructure and Secureworks provides information security capabilities.”
For Uthra, the future of the industry lies in ecosystem-driven personalization. “I see these three things happening in the near future: simpler, faster and personalization. If I'm a member, and I need a home, normally I would reach out to a realtor or a mortgage or lending company. We reach out to the builder and to many other folks to achieve that goal for our family. But an ecosystem approach asks: ‘Why can't we bring all these kinds of players into same ecosystem and make it happen? So, as a customer or a member, I will just reach out to a bank or financial institution like Truliant and say, ‘I need a home.’”
Uthra also sees increasing leverage of APIs for greater integration in sector technology with many third-party or indirect product companies. I see artificial intelligence and data playing a big role. Data is going to provide integration value because it will predict and say what our customers or members are asking and at what point in time.
“I take pride in leading this vision because of our people and culture. I'm really fortunate to feel that I'm part of this high technology team that brings those kinds of innovations together.”