DUCA Response to COVID-19
The end of 2019 saw the introduction of what would evolve into a global pandemic: COVID-19. The repercussions in terms of personal health, business, and the overall economy, are still unfolding at the time of this report.
Early in March 2020, as we were closely monitoring daily reports from both government and health officials, DUCA moved quickly and decisively to facilitate uninterrupted delivery of our essential service to Members. Above all was awareness that we must implement new protocols for the health and safety of our Members, employees, and communities.
DUCA is prepared
Your Credit Union’s Emergency Response Team implemented actions that are prescribed under our pre-established Business Resilience Plan (BRP). The BRP was developed specifically to address such crises, should one occur. The team quickly rallied by developing action plans to protect the health and safety of our Members and Employees and to ensure the credit union was prepared operationally and financially, to manage the evolving circumstances.
Within days of implementing the Business Resilience Plan (BRP), DUCA began to roll out the following:
- Work from home protocols: Early on, all employees capable of working from home were encouraged to do so. Thanks to the BRP mapped out in advance, DUCA had the right technology in place allowing us to pivot to a broad-based work from home protocol quickly and relatively seamlessly.
At the time of this report, DUCA Employees use videoconferencing to ensure they stay in touch and on track.
- Health practices in branches: DUCA provides its Members with essential, daily banking services, as such it was important to quickly implement procedures, protocols and precautions to protect the health and safety of our Members and Branch Employees to continue to deliver the DUCA difference. Some of the steps we took include, installing plexiglass dividers at Member Service Representative desks and in the branch offices to provide additional physical distancing supports to protect Members and Employees as transactions are completed. Also, Branches undergo deeper cleanings and hand sanitizers are available at Branch entrances. Upon arriving at a branch, posters reiterating the need for distance and other safety measures are clearly visible. Branch employees, coached on healthy practices, may choose to wear face masks and/or gloves.
- Creation of satellite Member Connect locations: Members rely heavily on our Member Connect call centre which is, for all intents and purposes, a “phone-in” branch. Not surprisingly, when Canadians were advised to stay home and reduce public interactions, calls to Member Connect increased. In fact, DUCA encouraged Members to use alternate methods of banking such as our Member Connect.
To handle an increasing number of calls while responding to changing foot-traffic patterns into some of our Branches, we have created Member Connect satellite locations. Examples of this include the Burlington and Toronto/CBC branches. Due to significant drops in Member visits to these branches combined with higher call volumes, they have been temporarily closed for walk-in visitors but have been repurposed as fully functional Member Connect centres. In addition, a number of branch employees (who are already experienced in Member assistance and communications) were deployed to Member Connect, thereby expanding Member Connect’s capacity to handle higher call volumes.
- Alternate methods for everyday banking: As a precaution to protect Member health and safety, and consistent with government and public health guidelines, we have been sending regular communications to Members to emphasize the different ways to bank at DUCA. These messages are being sent via email, duca.com as news items, through social media postings, and on posters at branch entries.
- Regular communications. At such times, it is of paramount importance to regularly communicate with Members, Employees, partners, communities, and other stakeholders. We began this practice earlier in the month of March and will continue to communicate regularly.
We will continue to:
- Share information and promote and share health and safety practices
- We will continue to promote the multiple ways to bank at DUCA and share any further changes to protect health and safety in our branch network
- We will share what DUCA can do to help you, our Members during these times.
DUCA is financially strong and stable
Your Credit Union is operating from a position of strength as we manage the evolving circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. How does one measure the financial strength of a Credit Union? Two key indicators that rating agencies and regulatory bodies consider include capital and liquidity.
DUCA has significant capital and liquidity reserves.
Capital: DUCA’s capital represents a financial cushion to support ongoing operations. A way to measure our capital strength is the capital ratios that our regulator, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) evaluates on a regular basis. One such capital ratio is the Leverage Ratio. This ratio is a comparison of a Credit Union’s available capital to total assets.
Liquidity: We monitor and manage our cash and cash-equivalent assets (liquidity) very closely at DUCA. Your Credit Union has established liquidity targets and tolerances that ensure strength and stability in funding our operations in normal circumstances and in more challenging times. As we monitored the progression of the COVID-19 pandemic we began to increase our levels of liquidity steadily and have built and maintain a substantial liquidity cushion
Beyond the metrics: DUCA has in place robust business resilience and contingency plans and protocols which have served us very well in adapting to rapidly unfolding events of the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling decisive and timely actions to protect health and safety and support the continued delivery of essential services to our Members. We have a strong balance sheet with high quality assets and a stable deposit base enabling DUCA to generate solid operating earnings during these times and beyond
DUCA is helping our Members & Communities
Mortgage and Loan payment deferral program
We understood early on that, beyond health concerns, COVID-19 was going to present challenges to personal finances. DUCA communicated to all Members that if they were experiencing financial difficulties as a direct result of COVID-19 which interfere with their ability to make mortgage or loan payments, they were encouraged to reach out to their Branch Manager to discuss a personalized solution. Both branch and internal staff involved in such discussions were coached on how to handle these conversations with compassion and sensitivity.
The reaction by Members granted this extension was heart-warming to all DUCA employees, offering a first-hand account of the welcome relief such consideration provided to Members already in difficult circumstances. Here are just two excerpts from Members’ reaction upon receiving news of their deferrals:
“Thank you for your help to defer my mortgage payments for 6 months. I am grateful for DUCA helping me have peace of mind in this very difficult time.”
“Again, thank you so much. This is our first time dealing with DUCA other than signing our mortgage papers. You have gone beyond our expectations. Please thank your manager as well.”
DUCA Impact Lab
As we all deal with the far-reaching ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is impossible to ignore the financial impacts the crisis is having on individuals, families, and businesses in our communities. Just as DUCA is actively working with Members to address these issues as they arise, the DUCA Impact Lab is working with its partners and community stakeholders to help assist those who are not able to benefit from the assistance of their financial institution. The personal lending pilot and working capital pilot for under-banked entrepreneurs have both seen a significant increase in activity since the pandemic began. We expect there will be an emerging need for more of the Impact Lab’s services as COVID-19 moves along.
Feedback from our community partners tells us that the DUCA Impact Lab is uniquely positioned to assist in alleviating some of the financial strain of COVID-19 and that its work is more impactful and important than ever. We are exploring opportunities to expand the scale of our pilots through partnerships with funding partners that have a shared interest. The Impact Lab is a unique way DUCA and its Members can assist even more individuals and companies to weather the current situation. We Look forward to sharing updates as they become available.
DUCA would like to thank all front-line essential service providers – health care workers and others, who are doing such important work during the challenging circumstances posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also wish to thank DUCA’s Employees, Leadership Team, Board of Directors, and our Branch and Member-Connect (call centre) Employees for their commitment in protecting the health and safety of Members, Employees, and Communities while continuing to provide service to our Members.
We extend our well wishes to you, your families, and our fellow citizens for health and well being during these unprecedented times and beyond.