“More collaboration means more opportunities for smaller credit unions and banks.”
As the President and CEO of Tricorp Federal Credit Union, Stephen (Steve) Roy believes in maintaining that personal touch, no matter what. He thinks it’s crucial to keep up customer service, regardless of how far ahead technology continues to leap.
While it’s exciting to deliver new products and services, there’s no substitute for relationships, Steve says. Many New Englanders take pride in their local financial institutions and appreciate the home-town personal service.
NEACH recently chatted with Steve to learn more about security, service, and technology—and where credit unions and local community banks can fit in as the payments space evolves.
NEACH: What’s it mean to you to serve on NEACH’s Board of Directors? What is your primary role?
It’s a privilege to be on their board. I’m probably the longest-tenured board member at this point. I consider my role to be to be an advocate for members of Tricorp: We want to make sure credit unions along with all of NEACH’s members understand the depth of knowledge of NEACH and all its resources.
NEACH: What’s the biggest opportunity for financial institutions?
While there are more and more transactions being performed online, I believe local services are still important. Credit unions, local community banks, and even larger banks still prioritize local services. Financial institutions can and should work together and collaborate on payment systems to grow market share and compete with the non-bank payments platforms—that’s a big opportunity.
NEACH: Where do you predict the industry will be in five years? How can financial institutions prepare in a rapidly accelerating environment?
It is difficult to predict what the future payment rails are going to be but I think it is safe to conclude that it will be more electronic and faster. In discussions with colleagues, there is concern about the non-bank players in the marketplace and what that means for the future of the ACH Network. It has been a very reliable and safe network and the challenge will be to ensure that the ACH network continues to be a relevant payment platform.
NEACH: Why is it important for an organization to have a payments strategy in place in this environment? What does this mean practically for financial institutions today?
I believe that it is very important to have a payment strategy in order to remain competitive against all the other payment platforms. With all of the security issues with payments, NEACH fills a very important role in assisting its members with formulating a payment strategy.
NEACH: What business topics keep you up at night?
Cybersecurity, regulations and the future of payments and how we adapt to it. Financial institutions have strict regulatory requirements to adhere to that non-bank platforms do not. There needs to be parity in terms of how all payment platforms are regulated.
NEACH: In addition to serving on the Board, how do you participate in NEACH?
Tricorp is an ODFI/RDFI on our own; we host ACH workshops for NEACH. At other workshops and forums that we host, Sean Carter is a frequent speaker and he provides valuable information on payments and new rules and their effects on Tricorp’s members. We also promote the services of NPG encouraging our members to take advantage of the expertise of NEACH including NPG.
NEACH: What do you see as NEACH’s biggest contribution to the industry? How important is NEACH to the industry as a whole?
I think it’s a very important resource for rules knowledge and questions, enforcement of rules, NPG audits, risk assessments, consulting work, and what goes beyond all of that. NEACH knows our financial institutions—and the marketplace that they compete in.
NEACH: Complete this sentence: Without NEACH, I (or my organization) would be ___________________.
At a disadvantage. We wouldn’t have the resources NEACH provides, we wouldn’t have that very knowledgeable local resource that we have now.
NEACH: What excites you most about the industry and your role in it?
We like serving our credit union members whether it be for correspondent services, liquidity services or settlement. We want to continue to collaborate with them to ensure that they continue to be a very good financial resource for their members.
NEACH: How do you keep learning and growing as an industry leader?
You have to stay engaged through any opportunities you have. That can include meeting and collaborating with counterparts and strategic partners and any educational opportunities that are relevant to financial institution system. Learning never stops.
NEACH: What books are you currently reading?
I’m a big mystery fan. I like the who-done-its. I also like biographies. There are certainly many types of books to read but I prefer reading that takes me away from all the busyness of a work day.
NEACH: Who has been your biggest role model and why?
Professionally, my biggest role model was my predecessor, Normand Nolette. There’s a credit union chapter named after him. I spent 13 years working with him: He told me to focus on serving. Service can be through email, phone, in-person; he always hammered to us that service is the cornerstone for how you do business. I’m trying to follow his legacy.