NRL Federal Credit Union (NRL FCU) is based in Alexandra, Virginia. They control over $500m in assets and are growing quickly. Their audit team is small and also handles risk, compliance, and other regulatory duties.

Yet despite their small team size, the credit union is now addressing risks and regulatory issues like an institution twice their size. Their newfound audit efficiency and effectiveness is critical to their credit union’s continued growth plans.


NRL FCU’s Predicament

Like many credit unions, there are many audit and regulatory compliance duties, but few resources with which to complete them. Credit union auditors are limited by time, inefficient communication such as spreadsheets and emails, and few dedicated employees. Nevertheless, there’s a lot to do.

In addition to audit, NRL FCU’s VP of Risk and Compliance Aaron Hibbard oversees compliance, risk management, and vendor management. All of these areas need attention, but they compete with each other for the same resources, limiting bandwidth further.

Aaron felt that NRL FCU lacked a robust audit infrastructure. “We didn’t have one finite way of doing things. Every audit was a little bit different,” he said. “With no similarities between the audits, I’m trying to figure out what we’re going to do for this one to improve from the last one… there’s just no central core of how to get things done, how to do things properly.” He identified a lack of structure as one of their primary weaknesses.

Additionally, Aaron found communication breakdowns. Emails and spreadsheets took time from his day, but they were a necessary evil. Spreadsheets in particular were an issue. “We found that people didn’t go into them or couldn’t find them or didn’t understand how they were structured.”

The unreliable, manual communication took time from Aaron’s other responsibilities. He was working hard, but he didn’t have time to dedicate to program improvements. NRL FCU considered hiring another full-time auditor or moving business unit staff to handle audit duties. They knew they had to do something. Inaction would put the credit union at risk.


NRL FCU’s Solution

Aaron knew that NRL FCU needed to make their process more effective and efficient to be able to keep up with the credit union’s growth plans. As with many credit unions, adding more staff wasn’t a good option. Instead, they chose a tool to centralize, structure and automate their processes.

Immediately, Aaron was able to centralize all of his audit materials, including documents, communications, findings, past results, and more. Everybody Aaron worked with was able to get in, see their document requests, and get to work.

That centralization helped NRL FCU create a consistent structure for their audits. Instead of starting from scratch for each audit, Aaron was able to reference the past, giving him and his team a solid foundation on which to build.

One of the biggest time savers was communication. Instead of manually updating spreadsheets and emailing requests, Aaron was able to automate the entire process. Right after putting in a document request list, the business unit staff were notified—and they responded quickly. There were no more questions about what the request was for, what they needed to do, or where they needed to send it. The automated communication and updates provided a clear trail for Aaron to track everything at a glance.

Aaron also noticed that he no longer needed to manage from spreadsheets. There were no more worries about version control or lack of user-friendliness. Instead, he could see who was missing documents and when the due date was—and he didn’t need to spend any time reminding them about it, because the platform did that for him.

Aaron’s audit team was able to increase their role, too. Aaron already trusted his compliance specialist to run smaller audits (such as access control, branch operations, and cash counts), but he still had to step in to manage larger ones. With improved structure and less administrative burden, Aaron’s compliance specialist is now able to run most of the larger audits, too. Because they now have so much visibility on audit activity, she was comfortable taking the lead on almost any audit.

The audit team at NRL FCU was impressed with how easy to use the new system was. “I’m always skeptical about new products and services,” said Aaron. “A lot of people try to sell you something, and they say it’s super easy to use, and then it never is.” But after running a couple of solo audits with the platform, he was a believer. “I realized I don’t have to babysit this. I got my staff trained in the system and [the positive impact] was immediate.”

The new way of working has had a positive impact on the credit union’s business units also. “Our business units were always [frustrated] he said. “They were complaining about the process and especially the volume. With our new methods now in place, the complaints have disappeared.”

Aaron felt comfortable guiding the credit union’s business staff through the platform. “But quite honestly, it’s not necessary,” he said. “The system is so intuitive that once I let everyone loose in it to complete their tasks… I noticed immediately a lack of questions about how to get things done.”

And business staff love the new process. “Other managers I’ve spoken to have just commented on how easy it was,” he said. “As far as getting documentation, doing remediations, the people I’ve talked to said the same thing: super easy.”


NRL FCU’s Results

Before, audits were inefficient. “A lot of time was wasted trying to create ways of doing things, trying to improvise…” Aaron said. “But we’ve really taken it to a whole different level. Redboard was integral to all of the results we’ve seen.”

Aaron estimates 25% time savings for audit staff. “I would say, per audit it’s probably saving me anywhere from 5–10 hours per week,” he said. Time savings in the business areas is on top of that. From document preparation and delivery, to remediation, to reporting, and other administrative tasks, Redboard helps NRL FCU increase their audit bandwidth. They’re on pace to complete an audit every two weeks—their fastest pace yet.

NRL FCU also appreciated Redboard’s responsiveness. During one of Aaron’s first audits using Redboard, he found a gap between their process and what the system provided. He contacted Redboard and he noted how easy it was to work with Redboard to get his needs met. “I think if somebody else had an issue, from the way Redboard reacted and got things done for us, it wouldn’t be an issue for long.”

But ultimately, it comes down to audits and performance. And Aaron and NRL FCU are confident now. Aaron said, “I want to be the star for the regulators when they come in. I’m now able to do that.”

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