Financial institutions are continually impacted by the growing cost of regulation, making it critical that the issue of operating efficiency be foremost in any strategic planning process. Margins are growing tighter and there are continued threats on noninterest income, resulting in our need to add new assets going forward that have a lower expense ratio than we have in the past.
We continue to drive down internal costs by managing business processes and applying best practices throughout our organization. This past year we brought in leading-edge technologies, such as the .Net core processing platform from our technology partner, COCC, to improve overall throughput in our back office and teller line. Working with COCC has allowed us to take a more strategic view of our business and apply best practice concepts through technology.
As a result of this change, we are now investing in electronic banking features, such as online account opening, e-statements and online loan bills to attract our online generations while reducing our use of paper and its associated costs.
Our investment in core-platforms also provides capabilities to improve our service levels while reducing costs. We are engaged in converting all paper documents in the organization into electronic records, which is providing data at the finger tips of our customers whenever they are looking for information regardless of the channel they are using.
We have also implemented a system where all of our customers have their driver's licenses scanned into our system. As a result, whenever a customer approaches a teller or customer service representative, the first thing that is called up is an identification copy of the driver's license. This allows us to process transactions more rapidly because of a more secure identification process.
In a further effort to continue to improve both our communications and reduce the cost of meetings given that we have fifteen branch locations, we are presently rolling out video-conferencing telecommunications capabilities. This will allow for in-house Webinars from a training perspective as well as management meetings without the need for travel.
Another area that we are progressing toward is the implementation in the first quarter of 2010 with paperless new account opening. Our objective is to eliminate all paper at the new account desk and instant issue debit cards. When you consider the amount of paper involved in opening new accounts and then the transfer of that paper to your operations-support service areas, it is a very expensive process that begs for automation.
As a result, we will be issuing computer tablets to our new accounts staff and using Microsoft technology to open accounts through the tablet, instantly order checks, credit score and issue a debit card. At the same time, we will transmit an electronic file to our operations-support area for further action. This process will offer significant opportunities for expense reduction through a more efficient and cost-effective operation.
From a marketing perspective, we are educating the market to the fact that the largest competitors in our state control 60% of the deposits and are foreign owned. This is important because these organizations don't have the same local interests as a community-based institution like HarborOne. We are encouraging consumers in our communities to come home to
HarborOne and support local initiatives.
These are just a few examples of how HarborOne focuses on efficiency as well as growth, and how we intend to continue the process of increasing membership with fewer adds to staff. This is our plan for success in the hypercompetitive market for financial services.
James W. Blake is president/CEO of HarborOne Credit Union, Brockton, Mass. He can be reached at 508-895-1200 or firstname.lastname@example.org