As we close the year, I want to acknowledge how difficult 2021 has been for so many of us in our fine State, as well as for those of you that are living in other areas of the country. We are approaching 2 years into this pandemic, and I know a lot of you are tired of dealing with it and just want normalcy again. Here at First Financial, we have been hard at work on projects that we hope will assist all of your financial matters, and make it easier for you to focus your time and energy on other areas of your lives.
We updated our mobile and online systems for several reasons, but mainly to build the foundation of a more robust electronic platform. Some of the current benefits of the change include improved cyber security, Zelle©, card controls, and concierge (travel) information. Future benefits will include enhancements in loan and money management areas. We are also working on installing a new phone system which, very shortly will allow us to provide more enhanced features compared to what is currently available to you today.
We implemented several new loan programs this year which provide a wider array of consumer and home loans, and we will have more programs to offer our members in 2022. All of our loans can be opened online or over the phone, so that you don’t have to physically visit a branch to start the loan process, and in most cases can finish the process online as well.
If you visit our Renaissance or Coors branch in Albuquerque, you will see what looks like ATMs in the lobbies. These machines can do much, much more than a regular ATM. We installed them intending to supplement our normal teller lines and make technology like this available to you so that transactions can be processed more quickly and efficiently. This will allow us to have additional staff available to help you with more complex financial matters, like helping you buy a car or a house.
Across the US, this pandemic ramped up changes in technology remote delivery services, and improved self-service options in many areas. Your Credit Union, is investing in these areas as well as in our physical locations so that you can take care of your financial needs with us safely and easily however and whenever you want. Thank you for trusting us with your business, and for being a member of First Financial Credit Union.
First Financial President and CEO,
Happy new year and happy new decade! It appears today that our country is not on the same page in many areas, we don’t even have a universal agreement on ‘when does a new decade start’! In the late 1990s, the Library of Congress's Ruth S. Freitag compiled a 57-page research document titled The Battle of the Centuries on this matter so evidently, it’s complicated! There are some things that I think we can all agree on, and first item I can think of is that we all want this pandemic to be over. Many of us were hoping that the new year would bring an end to the disaster of the year known as “2020”, and it sort of did I suppose. I will not replay the events of last year, but it was a very difficult year and unfortunately 2021 has also been challenging so far as well. Nevertheless, I would like to share some positive plans that we have here at First Financial (FFCU) for the future.
First off, we know that interactions have evolved over the past year, especially as our branches had to reduce their services or even close. We will continue to invest in self-service and remote banking options, which have proven to be the safest and most preferred channels throughout the current pandemic. However, we do realize that many of you would still like to visit a branch to conduct your business. FFCU will continue researching physical locations in new areas of New Mexico as well (stay tuned)! At the same time, we also understand that many of you have gotten used to the freedom and convenience that comes from not having to visit us in person or even having to leave your home to manage your finances. An interesting trait that we as Americans have is that in times of crisis, we love to revert to using cash, even when other payment options exist. Maybe it makes us feel more secure when we have $20 in our pocket. We will still provide various options for accessing your cash easily and adding additional technologies that enable secure digital payments and transfers to businesses and individuals in case cash is not your thing.
Many of you have contacted us over the past year about whether certain payments had cleared your account or whether certain monies had been deposited (like the stimulus funds). In the not-too-distant future, you will be able to talk to your virtual home assistant like Alexa, Google Home, or another similar smart home device and get answers to those types of questions in a matter of seconds. Not everyone is ready for that sort of voice-controlled environment, but we are working to be ready when you are. One of our biggest area of focus in 2021 will be on technology and innovation. First Financial has committed to developing and launching improved digital functionalities to serve your banking needs, at home or on the go.
Wherever and however you’d like to get in touch with us this new year, know that we’re here for you and are ready to help you feel more financially fit no matter where you are in your journey. We look forward to helping you reach your financial goals in 2021 and beyond.
Greetings and salutations! Well, it’s November and this strange year is heading towards a rather rough conclusion. This year has taken something from most of us, and it will be a year we do not soon forget. My mother passed away earlier this year and due to Covid restrictions I was not able to say goodbye. I believe I will see her again someday, but like many of you it has been a sad year, and am certainly looking forward to 2021. I know 2021 will be a better year, as I know by this time next year we will be looking back , having moved past this pandemic and on to better days. In the meantime, I’d like to suggest some things that may help us all get there.
First, there is an idea that I want to bring to your attention, and it concerns buying locally to help save local businesses. Because of current restrictions, you may not be able to support local businesses quite like you used to be able to do; but you can support them by buying gift cards, or ordering on-line from them, both of which help local businesses get through tough times. With the holidays rapidly approaching, a gift card from a local restaurant or coffee shop might be the answer to making someone’s day. When I was a kid, perusing the Sears© catalogue was a fun thing to do, but there is something even better now. If you go to the NM True Website you can see page after page of beautiful pictures of certified NM products and services. Pretty sure you can find a lot of things you may not have even realized existed, like a raspberry farm in Corrales. While it may be very easy to order from some company in another state, buying local does help out more than you probably know. The reason is that local businesses recirculate more of every dollar they earn in the local economy than national ones do – over 3.5 times as much.
Second, if you partake in reading, watching, or listening to news media regularly, you will notice that rarely do you hear good news. Whether on the tube or on YouTube, those that create and promote content or media want you to tune into them, and bad news seems to grab our attention more than good news. If you are feeling like all you ever hear is negativity, you’re probably right. There is good news out there, but you have to be very diligent to find it. If you do find some exciting and positive news, feel free to share it with us next time you call or stop by – we like hearing good things, too.
Lastly, you may find yourself at wits end with your finances. Holidays can be stressful times, and so if you would like to discuss your situation with us, we have certified financial counselors in most of our locations, and have telephone resources like Greenpath that you can talk to from the comfort of your home. We want you to know we are here to help you, in good times and in not so good times. Thank you for being a member of First Financial, and I hope that things start looking up for all of us very soon. May you all be blessed as the year closes.
Greetings and good day! As always, here at your Credit Union we continue to work on ways to help you along your financial path day to day, and ultimately help you achieve financial success.
As part of helping guide your financial success, we are co-hosting* a free webinar presented by CUE Financial on investing during these “Turbulent Times”. The webinar takes place on October 15th at 6pm. I would encourage you to consider joining. You can find all details and registration info here.
We have been thinking about how the virus has impacted our lives here in New Mexico over these past 7 months, and what the next 7 months might look like. One of our top priorities, is to continue to provide best in class member service all while keeping you and our staff safe and healthy.
Now, if you are like me, you probably thought that by now we would have gained the upper hand over this virus, and that life would be more or less back to normal. If you have school age children, I am sure life does not feel very normal at all and time was a luxury you once had. To help give you back some time, we have on-line and mobile services that you can easily access from nearly anywhere! With a simple internet or cell connection, depositing a check or applying for a loan can be done from your kitchen faster than having to visit a branch. If you have any questions on how to use any of our digital services, please contact us and we will help walk you through the process. We can help you in any one of our lobbies or over the phone.
Should the virus spiral out of control this winter, there is a potential that we will be forced to close some of our branch lobbies again. This is certainly not our preference; but, should this happen we will do everything we can to notify you in advance.
I want to personally thank each and every one of you for wearing masks and staying 6 feet apart when you enter our branch lobbies, and for not coming in if you aren’t feeling well. Those simple steps have really helped us keep everyone healthy so far. If you have suggestions, questions, or comments about how we are handling this health crisis, please let us know. Lastly, we have Certified Financial Counselors and an entire Financial Assistance team ready to help you if you are having concerns about your financial future or are having trouble making it from payday to payday. Thank you for being part of First Financial!
First Financial President and CEO
*FFCU and CUE are different organizations. FFCU has contracted with CUE Financial to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members. CUE is a branch office of and securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC. Advisory Services Offered Through CUE Financial Group, Inc., a SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance Products are offered through CUE Financial Group, Inc., a General Insurance Agency. CUE Financial Group, Inc., First Financial Credit Union and the Securities America companies are unaffiliated. Securities America and its representatives do not provide tax and legal advice; therefore it is important to coordinate with your tax and legal advisor regarding your specific situation.
Not a deposit. Not NCUA insured. Products are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union. May lose value and may involve investment risk, including possible loss of principal. Not insured by a government agency.
CLICK HERE FOR A COPY OF PFG ADVISORS' RELATIONSHIP SUMMARY (FORM CRS).
CLICK HERE FOR A COPY OF SECURITIES AMERICA, INC'S RELATIONSHIP SUMMARY (FORM CRS).
Free and simple tools are available to research firms and financial professionals at INVESTOR.GOV/CRS, which also provides educational materials about broker-dealers, investment advisors, and investing.
Greetings and welcome to the official end of summer!
If you were thinking about buying a home in the last few months, you may have seen that mortgage rates were at historic lows. Mortgage rates are low, because they are tied to US Treasury rates which are also at historic lows. How low might you ask? If you purchased a 10-year US Treasury security today, for every $100 you invested, you would earn 64 cents per year for each of the 10 years, or a total of $6.40. That is a ridiculously small amount of income. Low rates are good news for you if you are refinancing or buying a home, or buying a new auto. But they are not good news if you are a saver. Low Treasury rates are also the reason that certificate and money market rates are very low at this time.
Summertime has an ability to create fond memories, whether of boating and fishing at one of our beautiful lakes like Navajo Lake State Park, hiking in a lush mountain area like the Gila National Forest, or taking a day trip to view the wildlife at the Rio Grande Nature Center State Park or the Albuquerque BioPark Zoo. With the pandemic and quarantine restrictions in place, I imagine most of us stayed rather close to home this year. Given the economic uncertainty faced by many, I also know that you might not have felt like you could afford to spend the money on a vacation this year. New Mexico unemployment was significantly higher this summer than it was even during the Great Recession, and as of July was still over 13%. If you are worried about your finances, or having trouble paying your bills, please contact us. We have trained financial counselors in our branches, as well as, GreenPath Financial Wellness resources available to help our members get through this.