Reflecting on 2020 and Early 2021 Successes As We Enter Quarter 2
This month I want to reflect on our 2020 accomplishments and how they’ve shaped where we are headed as we enter quarter two of 2021. Although the pandemic caused unplanned chaos, we executed a strong business plan with a strategic edge rooted in technology to be the keys to our success. We continue to prioritize our mission to revolutionize banking services through advanced data utilization and state-of-the-art technology in an effort to optimize the member experience and plan for another successful year ahead.
Our relationship with AAA, established in 2019, continues to prove mutually beneficial as we expand our partnership. Our Glastonbury branch offers both DMV Express and AAA services to optimally serve members through the use of self-service kiosks. Data analytics allow us to offer more targeted products and services to both members and non-members, thus extending our reach into the community.
We also further developed our partnership with Mortgage Markets CUSO, a credit union service organization that uses innovative technology to seamlessly offer mortgage products. By upgrading the online mortgage application, we now offer our members an enhanced interaction and experience.
In 2020, we partnered with Futures, Inc. (Good Cause Gifts), a retail gift store with whom we cobranded our West Hartford branch. The Nutmeg banking footprint was reduced and we deployed a fully self-service banking operation. We experienced an increase in foot traffic and realized an overall reduction in operating expenses for that facility.
The strong partnership we established with the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in 2018 has been essential in our ability to attract new members while serving over 51,000 Connecticut drivers to renew their license, change their name or address on their license, get a duplicate license and even get their driver record. Despite the pandemic, we were able to build upon this successful partnership and expand our DMV Express retail locations, which now include Milford, North Haven, Glastonbury (in partnership with AAA), and Norwalk.
In July of 2020, we were granted approval from the Connecticut Department of Banking to expand our field of membership to include the towns of Fairfield, Westport, Trumbull, and Norwalk. We are only a few months into 2021 and we’ve already been able to establish a greater Nutmeg presence in Fairfield County with the recent grand opening of our Norwalk location.
The partnerships we’ve built and our relentless approach to improved technology have set a strong foundation for 2021 as we plan to roll out even more ground-breaking services in the coming months.
Expanding Community Outreach
Community support and outreach are fundamental core values at Nutmeg. Given the environmental circumstances, we have been more creative in our approach to serving our community. Although in-person events are nowadays virtual, Nutmeg still makes a valiant effort to be involved in the local community. We are proud to be recognized as the leading sponsor for several events including the Channel 3 Kids Camp Telethon, as we remain committed to giving back and are eager to serve our surrounding communities. Following proper protocols, you can expect to see us in attendance at community-wide events supporting local charities and organizations in the year ahead. We humbly look forward to making a difference again this year.
A major emphasis behind our community outreach is to aid underserved individuals and families. As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) we are uniquely positioned to help underserved families with our products and services. In 2020, one of our programs, Working Wheels, provided 47 families with funds totaling close to $524,000 aimed at providing reliable transportation to these members. We were once again awarded a CDFI government grant ($520,000) and we have an aggressive strategy to put these funds to good use in 2021 and provide low-income communities with the needed assistance to overcome financial challenges and protect them from predatory lenders.
Another community area impacted by the pandemic was small businesses. Nutmeg recognized the need to educate the community and organized several free webinars aimed at providing information regarding the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) including eligibility, expenses covered by these types of loans, and loan forgiveness among others. In 2020, Nutmeg provided nearly $23M in PPP loans and established approximately 180 new business relationships. For 2021, we have already funded over $13M in PPP loans.
When faced with a pandemic that breaks all social norms, we chose to adapt and further advance our technological initiatives. 2020 was a year that tested the status quo, a concept that ironically aligns with Nutmeg’s mission to deliver exceptional value through revolutionary technology. Our partnership and ownership of DaLand CUSO allowed us to do just that.
Stemming from years of collaboration and our acquisition of this company in 2018, DaLand has been fundamental in the development of our latest technology. As part of our relationship with DaLand, we have access to resources that collaborate with us to introduce new and enhanced digital services to provide an exceptional banking experience. Our online banking platform, self-service kiosks, and contactless check-in services are all a part of DaLand’ s streamlined technology that values member time, safety, and loyalty.
While most businesses were negatively impacted by COVID-19 throughout 2020, DaLand was able to meet all business and financial plan goals. In fact, DaLand experienced impressive growth in 2020 in terms of new business, revenue, and profit, which is expected to continue into 2021. As you know, technological advancements entail perpetual elevation. This is a concept that DaLand’s leadership carries out on a large scale. In order for our credit union to deliver exceptional products and services, DaLand works diligently to create new technology allowing us to better understand the needs of our members through advanced data usage. Having DaLand as the lead developer of our custom technology and advanced data utilization plays a fundamental role as we continue to transform our business in the year ahead.
Even though 2020 was challenging, much was accomplished in the middle of unprecedented conditions, allowing us to lay a strong foundation for a successful 2021 and beyond. We have pivoted as necessary to manage the regulatory credit union requirements while continuing to innovate and mold Nutmeg for its future relevance as a viable company. Our goal is to optimize the member experience in every way possible even more so as we progress into 2021.
We continue to appreciate the trust, confidence, and support instilled in Nutmeg especially through the various challenges we faced in 2020. We are excited for the initiatives we have in store for you in the year ahead including this past month’s grand opening of our new DMV cobranded location in Norwalk and the upcoming launch of our enhanced digital self-service platform, myNutmeg, to name just a few.
We recognize that this pandemic isn’t over but we are hopeful that we will soon get back to enjoying family gatherings, reconnecting with members of our communities, and adjusting to the new “normal”. Rest assured that Nutmeg will continue to be there as your community financial institution and to assist you in any way we can.
Please, do look after yourselves, your families and your friends…And stay safe!
John Holt, President & CEO