Sunday, March 15, 2020 was my very first Zoom call with the management team to discuss how operations were about to change. We were going into a “lockdown” but we had to stay open. In the blink of an eye, we became “Essential Workers”.
We all know what happened from there. Drive-up only, lobby appointments – only if it was urgent and video calls on Teams, Zoom, Webex, Ring Central, Skype and Google Meet – how many are there? It was amazing and scary what was happening. Through it all, our staff was simply quite amazing. They rose to the challenge and became the glue that was holding it all together. They took being an essential worker very seriously. It was our job to make sure members had full access to their funds, could replace a lost debit card, apply for loans, provide government regulated loan forbearances, mortgage modifications, and of course, PPP loans.
We were not alone in this. I also look back to see how the New Hampshire credit unions all worked together to help each other work through operational challenges. Weekly CEO calls focused on making sure all our members were taken care off and helping each other talk through lobby closures, staffing challenges, mask wearing and innovative ideas to serve members. I feel confident, speaking on behalf of all the NH credit union CEOs, we are all very lucky to have a credit union system in New Hampshire whose primary goal is to do what is right for our members and even as occasional competitors – right for each other.
Financially, HRCU ended with a very strong year due to sound decision making by our board and management staff. Assets, loans and deposits all reached new highs. Contribution to capital kept pace with our growth mostly due to reduced operating expenses while interest rates were hitting lows not seen before. HRCU remains “well capitalized” per NCUA regulations, the highest rating the federal insurer gives.
In June, we converted our Online and Mobile Banking to one of the most innovative and top-rated platforms in today’s market. And we did it 100% remote! In fact, we were the first remote conversion our new vendor did. Timing turned out to be perfect. HRCU was now well prepared to handle the burst of online traffic. ATM/ITM (Interactive Teller Machine) use and mobile deposits showed impressive increases. In 2019, combined electronic deposits totaled $19.5 million. In 2020, combined deposits on those platforms rose to over $42 million, and the volume has not stopped since lobbies have been reopened. ITMs have also done extremely well with transaction volume tripling since the pandemic hit. Currently we have five ITMs in service with more being planned for 2021 and beyond.
Though all this, our community commitment remained strong with over $100,000 was donated to not for profits. Our college scholarship program also continued and now stands at over $230,000 contributed. A new Spaulding High School branch was opened to serve students, teachers and the public. The banking class had to be put on hold in person but continued online. HRCU and the Rochester Opera House finalized a deal in downtown Rochester that has already begun to help revitalize the downtown. We will be excited to share more news on the Rochester Performance and Arts Center (RPAC) in 2021.
Getting through 2020 was a big challenge. Possibly unsung through all this is our Board of Directors and Supervisory Committee. All community volunteers have remained committed to helping in any way they could. And help they did. Their support meant a great deal to the management team and staff. We have much more ahead in 2021 and we have an amazing team at HRCU, along with new managers and staff hired in 2020 that will bring a lot of excitement, expertise and energy to our future plans. Our mission and purpose come down to serving our community and will be stronger than ever. There will be no slowing down in 2021.
President & CEO