In what is a recurring feature, Finopotamus spotlights innovative women who are positively impacting technology applications in the credit union industry, and beyond.
For this issue, we visited with AmeriCU Credit Union’s Assistant Vice President of the Member Contact Center Kristy D’Imperio. The $2.7 billion Rome, N.Y.-based credit union serves 157,000 members at 19 financial centers.
By W.B. King
From a call center representative to a mortgage loan processor to a branch manager, Kristy D’Imperio has had her hands on just about every aspect of a credit union’s operations, but it was a core conversion that “sparked” her passion for digital.
“I broke into the credit union space 14 years ago, working for an institution that was very forward-thinking,” she told Finopotamus. “This piqued my interest in technology, as I recognized the power and potential it held to transform the industry for the better.”
Prior to joining AmeriCU Credit Union in 2021, D’Imperio spent more than 12 years at Empower Federal Credit Union where she held a host of positions, including those noted above.
“Today, I serve as the assistant vice president of the member contact center for AmeriCU Credit Union, helping expand our digital footprint to provide a better, more meaningful service experience for our members and communities,” noted D’Imperio, who earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Utica University.
As opposed to when she started her career, she said technology today is a mindset rather than merely a tool.
“Credit unions must adapt to and then integrate processes with technology, making it routine and part of roles and responsibilities within the organization,” she continued. “As remote or hybrid positions become increasingly common, it’s even more important for credit unions to be well-versed in a wide range of technology offerings. This is the new norm, being nimble as technology evolves.”
Shattering the Glass Ceiling
While D’Imperio told Finopotamus that there is “absolutely an uptick of women in technology” today compared to when she first stepped into the space, the movement still requires forward motion.
“It is exciting to see the removal of barriers as women assume important tech roles,” she continued. “The glass ceiling is meant to be broken; although there is still work to be done, I am proud to see so many pieces shattered.”
Crediting a mixture of leaders and peers who have provided instrumental guidance and feedback throughout her career, D’Imperio said she also worked hard to climb the corporate ladder.
“The advice I received from others helped guide me here. I want to do the same for others,” she said. “Words of encouragement matter and are critical in times of doubt.”
A Digital-First World
The care and attention D’Imperio has dedicated to her career is also reflected in her approach to the credit union’s 157,000-plus members, many of whom, she said, seek a digital-first lifestyle.
“I recognized this need for credit unions to provide personalized member service online that reflects the strong in-branch experience we are known for,” she noted. “Rather than disparate channels, I looked for a single platform for all our digital interactions, making it easier for members to use and become comfortable with.”
To achieve this initiative, AmeriCU Credit Union has recently “jump-started a complete digital business transformation,” she noted. “Basically, we are building a full-service digital financial center with all digital features.”
A partnership with the New York City-based Glia, which offers digital customer service (DCS) solutions, has helped AmeriCU Credit Union achieve its intended goals. After evaluating different solutions, she said AmeriCU deployed Glia’s DCS platform in April 2022, starting with a chat feature.
“To further enhance digital offerings, we added OnScreen voice options and launched an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered virtual assistant customized to serve members’ needs,” D’Imperio continued. “With the digital foundation in place, AmeriCU is prepared to meet member expectations now and in the future, backed by our collaborative fintech partnerships.”
In her view, credit union and fintech partnerships are “vital” to the long-term survival of the industry.
“Supported by fintechs, credit unions can unlock unlimited opportunities for members, delivering innovative tech offerings to enhance the service experience and empower members to improve their financial health,” she offered. “This is an opportunity that should not be skipped out on.”
By working with Glia, for example, she said AmeriCU Credit Union have offset its “high call volumes, decongested its contact center and skyrocketed member satisfaction rates, gaining trust and buy-in from our members.”
Deep-Rooted Commitment to Membership
As the number of fintechs has exponentially grown, so has their understanding of the credit union mission, D’Imperio said.
“To stand out in the crowded landscape, fintechs have had to get creative and identify a niche, catering to certain issues or specific needs – some of which have been built just for credit unions,” she noted.
Despite these advancements, she added that credit unions are still challenged to find the right partner or partners that “best suit” their institution. “This is why it’s critical for credit unions to take the time to thoroughly vet each potential partner.”
Historically, credit unions, opposed to other financial institutions, have tended to be more open to embracing new technologies and trends, explained D’Imperio. This is due, in part, to "credit unions being owned by those they serve," she added.
“There is a deep-rooted commitment to support and meet the financial goals of members,” she continued. “The innovative mindset combined with the mission to serve communities is what differentiates credit unions from other financial services providers and is the reason why I’m still in the credit union space.”