Arrowhead CU's digital horizons open with greater automation & streamlined onboarding

Arrowhead Credit Union brings the support and security they're known for to their communities with a brand new approach to digital banking.
Sep 20, 2022
Laura Caseley
Content Writer

Arrowhead Credit Union was founded in 1949 by San Bernardino County employees as a way to provide small loans for their growing families. From there, this community credit union has continued to grow and evolve. Today, they offer home loans, car loans, checking accounts, and much more to the residents and workers of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties; to select cities in Los Angeles County, Nevada, and Arizona; and anyone employed by the State of California. Operating as a not-for-profit financial cooperative, they give back to their communities through not only accessible financial services, but through hundreds of volunteer hours annually. Their spirit of helping is reflected in how they want their credit union to work: making life a little easier and helping families establish a future.

Faster, Better Onboarding

Theresa Hainsworth | Vice President of Operations
Arrowhead's customers have a better overall experience, which means accounts get opened.

The obstacles in Arrowhead's way

Arrowhead Credit Union is deeply dedicated to its members and the communities it serves – evident in its efforts to serve even more local communities. Along with opening a new branch in Montclair, California, Arrowhead is rapidly expanding into digital channels. But to keep up with the speed, efficiency, and security their communities need, combined with the fact that their legacy provider was shutting down, they had to make a change from their legacy platform – and fast. 

Luckily, the folks at Arrowhead have a long legacy of dedication to their community, as well as a forward-thinking curiosity that inspired them to explore all their options. They finally decided Narmi’s Digital Account opening was the right option, and embraced the new platform, and very new way of thinking about digital banking.

Arrowhead’s dedication to their communities has always been a foundational element of the credit union. The issue, however, was letting that shine through past a legacy system that was simply not doing enough to provide members with a good online banking experience, or shield them from potential bad actors. 

Non-stop waves of fraud

“We got so used to checking everything because this impacts our members. If something fraudulent comes in, it impacts the members we already have. They’ll take a loss.” – Theresa Hainsworth

Fraud and identity theft is distressingly commonplace in southern California  – “popping off,” as Vice President of Operations Theresa Hainsworth puts it. “Some of the fraud we’ve experienced happens so fluidly. We didn’t have time to wait a week for programmers. We didn’t have time or resources to take the losses we were getting.” 

Arrowhead’s prior solution was unable to display possible issues in real time, and often missed crucial indicators like IP addresses, which can flag identity theft almost immediately. Worse, red flags were only found after the account was open, causing a neverending game of catch-up for Theresa and her team. They would often have to resort to Googling addresses to verify IDs – a completely untenable and arduous workload that needed to be automated. 

Catching and mitigating fraud was compounded by the inflexibility of their legacy system, too. “We came from a very rigid system. Any changes we wanted, even a simple color change or additional product would sometimes take months,” Chris says. “Most digital platforms allow you discretion on how it appears, what content you have, and so on.” 

Great marketing plans…but no confidence to use them

Arrowhead was excited to launch a new marketing campaign to broaden their reach, but there was just one problem: their onboarding experience for prospective members wasn’t meeting expectations. For one thing, it lacked mobile capability – a huge shortcoming in today’s mobile-first world. 

“When people don’t see your branch location at the corner, and then the experience to welcome them feels really dated, there’s no confidence that this is the institution for them.” – Chris Anderson

“We like to be our members’ financial partner and help them along their way. We want to help them at their speed,” explains Theresa. “We know you don’t want to walk into a branch. You want to do it in your jammies at two in the morning, or quickly while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office. Either way, we need to be accessible when you need us.”

To make the Arrowhead experience more streamlined and intuitive to potential members experiencing the site for the first time, the leadership team knew they needed to make major changes to their web and mobile onboarding. Chris Anderson and his marketing team looked to other platforms to see what was table-stakes in online banking, taking notes on how their ideal new platform would look and behave. “It was important from my perspective that the new platform not be as rigid, that we have the ability to pretty much be able to do whatever we wanted quickly, either in-house or through a partner, because that’s the way things work now.”

“From a brand representation standpoint, it should feel modern, like technology, not like a form you complete at the DMV."  – Chris Anderson 

“We had reservations about running any sort of marketing campaigns where we’d be directing people to that platform,” recalls Vice President of Marketing Chris Anderson. “They have the expectation of a responsive site that is quick to complete, but ours wasn’t mobile-responsive, asked a lot of questions, and took a long time to get through. It also didn’t really represent our brand in a way we wanted. As a result, we really held back on advertising we would have done that would have directed to this channel.”

A brand new way of thinking with Narmi

Arrowhead was able to implement a new digital account opening solution at record speed – a full month ahead of the original due date – supplying them with an efficient system that met new member’s expectations for web and mobile. This step opened the door to a whole day way of growing membership, while also handily filtering out fraudulent accounts. 

The best of both worlds: speed and safety

As with all new things, there was a learning curve. After being so used to the necessity (and drudgery) of painstaking diligence to prevent and mitigate fraud, Narmi’s automated approach took a little getting used to. Theresa remembers the adjustment period: “Literally the first day, the staff kept coming into my office going, ‘Is that it? What are we missing?’” New accounts were being opened so easily that it actually triggered fears something was being overlooked. But eventually for Theresa and her team, seeing became believing, “The biggest hurdle was learning to trust and learning that we didn’t have to do all that work anymore. We had to learn to just trust the system. It took a few days, I’m not going to lie. The biggest hurdle was learning to trust and learning that we didn’t have to do all that work anymore.”

"We can see everything. To be able to see it in real time is like looking into a crystal ball." – Theresa Hainsworth

Narmi’s partnership with Alloy allowed Theresa and her team to see the proof in real time, and made even manual reviews a breeze thanks to Alloy’s color-coded system. There are still some accounts I have to review, but now, I just have to look at the red or orange because those are the ones I have to analyze – easy. It’s all right there. I push ‘Approve’ or ‘Reject’ and it’s updated almost immediately. It has really, truly saved a whole lot of time and made it more streamlined for our members. It’s taken the ‘oops’ out, as well.” 

Theresa remembers how common an occurrence identity theft used to be, and how it’s been eradicated with Narmi’s real-time decisioning process. “In two months, we haven’t had any identity theft. I would have had probably four instances if I was on my past solution,” she says. In fact, Theresa’s team was able to catch six fraudulent accounts, all based on IP addresses, in just a matter of seconds. 

Automated ID Verification

Theresa Hainsworth | Vice President of Operations
Arrowhead's VP of Operations on the night-and-day difference made by Narmi's automated decisioning platform.

A platform worthy of showing off

“It needed to look modern, operate modern, and be fast so that it didn’t get in the way or require a phone call or branch visit. And Narmi checked those boxes.” – Chris Anderson 

Now, Arrowhead is proud to show off their platform to prospective members, and can move forward with those marketing campaigns they’ve been holding onto. “We feel confident because not only are the people who are considering us finding the application impressive,” says Chris, “but we’ve also seen the efficiencies gained by moving to this new application versus the drop-off we would have seen with the previous membership application.” 

Today, new members are happily engaging with Arrowhead and opening new accounts. “The flow goes well for our members, they are getting it finished,” Theresa says. “We’re seeing our funding happening faster and are able to get cards ordered so much faster, which helps with engagement and with our members getting comfortable because they know Arrowhead is their partner.”

And that DMV-form feeling? That’s long gone. “Narmi’s platform, the minute you get there, has a very simple look. The commitment to the user is one that makes them feel they can do this, and it’s going to be a simple process. It affords new members a quick way to enter,” says Chris. “And in the background, it gives us everything we need to have confidence in the new members coming over.” 

While Arrowhead is excited to open its newest branches, the adoption of the Narmi platform also opens them up to members beyond the scope of their physical locations. “​​In my estimation, the most significant opportunity this presents is that while our branch network will continue to grow, we now really can serve the state of California,” explains Chris. “Now we have a platform we’re proud of and that provides us the security we need. It opens the opportunity for us to market in areas we wouldn’t have considered before, and will open the door for where we can market and who we can welcome.”

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Arrowhead CU's digital horizons open with greater automation & streamlined onboarding