How Visions Federal Credit Union Balances Security and Convenience in Digital Banking
Visions Federal Credit Union was founded over 50 years ago by eight IBM workers who invested $5 a piece. That $40 has since grown to more than $5 billion in assets. But, for Visions, it’s not all about numbers; it’s about people—over 230,000 member-owners spread across New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey….and the world.
Vice President and Chief Digital Officer Thomas P. Novak has been a part of the Visions team since 2012 when he came on board as branch manager. Today, he’s helping the credit union bring its digital-first vision to life—overseeing all enterprise-critical systems, including the DocuSign Agreement Cloud.
We talked to Thomas about his people-centered approach in a technology-filled role and the part DocuSign plays in helping Visions balance security and member experience in the highly regulated financial services industry.
You’ve had quite an interesting career trajectory—from branch manager to leading the credit union’s digital transformation department. How has digital evolved at Visions?
We're probably five times as big as we were in terms of department size. In terms of assets, we’ve gone from close to $3 billion when we started our digital transformation to over $5 billion. We have a pretty clear vision of how we can become a digital-first organization—and I get to be a part of that, which is pretty exciting.
Why is digital transformation important for you?
Digital transformation is about people to us. Technology is just the tool that helps us meet the ends they’re looking to achieve—whether that’s an easier way to move money or increased security as they do more sophisticated financial transactions. We’re operating with people’s money and their livelihoods. It’s so important that we consummate deals in a digital world that’s fast, secure and efficient.
What did your agreement processes look like before DocuSign?
It’s kind of embarrassing to say now, but everything was fax-based. We’d print, sign, scan these PDFs with deteriorating images. It was just a very difficult, clunky process that was ripe for errors. Fast forward to DocuSign: Everything became more seamless, efficient, trackable, and—most importantly—secure. We’ve also reduced our turnaround time [for getting signatures back] by more than half.
How was transitioning your members to this new way of doing things? Were there any challenges?
It was a welcome change. Some members were surprised by how easy it is. The feedback in more technology-forward markets was it’s about time. Employee resistance was a bigger hurdle. It took a while to reach critical mass.
Thinking about security and compliance—such huge priorities in financial services. How does DocuSign help with those components?
Behind the scenes, we’re leveraging insights from DocuSign Monitor so we have a better understanding of where envelopes are being electronically signed and any anomalous or potentially malicious activities. And we blend that security and compliance piece with convenience and the member experience—most notably with ID Verification, where members can scan their driver’s license to authenticate their identity.
What shaped your decision to become an early adopter of DocuSign Monitor?
We felt Monitor was a step in the right direction to get us more aligned with leading cybersecurity frameworks such as NIST. Today, 86% of our member interactions are through digital means. Having a tool like DocuSign Monitor helps to protect that front-end experience while empowering our staff to make data-driven decisions. We feed that data into more sophisticated tools like our SIEM so we can automate and scale our security posture.
What are some of the security features that are most exciting to you and the team?
One of the things out of the gate is the IP address tracking. That's the type of granular-level data that we really didn't have before—and it’s a key piece that’s going to evolve our cybersecurity prowess and risk mitigation.
Do you have any advice for other companies that are just getting started with DocuSign?
I truly believe that somebody needs to be the champion—whether that's an individual leader or a particular department. E-signature is phenomenal, as we all know, but in today's day and age it's kind of become table stakes. If you only look at DocuSign to do electronic signatures, you're going to miss out on the transformational piece. So, somebody has to own it and help evangelize it across the organization because it solves so many challenges.
What does the future look like for Visions FCU—and how does DocuSign fit into it?
The future for Visions is taking that next step—not simply digitizing an analog process but transforming it. We’re going to continue to integrate DocuSign with our technology stack, including ServiceNow and Jack Henry Symitar so we can maximize the positive impact of the platform.
Hear more from Thomas on how Visions Federal Credit Union is driving security, scalability and control using DocuSign Admin Tools, Monitor and ID Verification - watch now.