Northwest Credit Unions Collaborate to Model Disaster Recovery


You’ve likely read articles predicting devastating and deadly consequences if the “Cascadia Subduction” earthquake shakes the Northwest.  In the past year, you’ve seen the impact wildfires, severe weather, and tragedies such as mass shootings have had on communities.

If a disaster happens in your community, how would your credit union take care of the members, the staff, keep cash available, and provide the “people helping people” support you’re known for? Would your Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Plans stand the test?

Lacey, WA. -based TwinStar Credit Union and the Washington State Emergency Management Division invited Northwest credit unions to a free, two-part Business Continuity Forum. Following a webinar in February, a well-attended in-person forum was held at TwinStar CU on March 7.

Spearheading the collaborative event was Daniela Parker, TwinStar’s AVP/Risk Management.

“We as credit unions are so good at collaborating and I wanted to bring that spirit of collaboration to the business continuity planning side,” said Parker. “It was a great opportunity to learn from each other and build relationships that will hopefully allow us to become more resilient in our own organizations as well as our industry.”

Attendees agreed, calling the forum “excellent,” and “very beneficial.”

“I gained a ton of knowledge” said an attendee.

Katie Clark, your Association’s Regulatory and Compliance Specialist, highlighted key takeaways from the forum:

  • Credit unions should consider forging with their local emergency management departments such as fire and police.
  • For weather related events, it is important to keep an eye not only on the forecast, but also on road conditions. This is important for where your offices are located and where your employees reside.
  • If an event occurs and your hardcopy of your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) is destroyed, can you still implement your plan? Do you have electronic copies, or copies at employees’ home offices?
  • Does your BCP include succession planning for those responsible for specific tasks?
  • Ensure that your critical team members and functions are identified in your BCP.
  • Make important information as easily to access as possible. Have contact information for your critical vendors in a place that allows appropriate personnel to obtain the contact information and make the necessary phone calls.
  • Know and test your redundancy operations.
  • Work with the individual(s) responsible for communications on having a preplanned communications strategy and pre-prepared statements available.
  • Practice drills are highly recommended. If you are going to have a tabletop exercise, define the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the BCP team as well as the desired outcome of the exercise in advance. This helps to set your team up for success.
  • Remember that the preparedness of your employees at home is an important factor. If employees aren’t prepared at home, making the decision to come into work during an incident becomes more difficult

Editor’s note: If you have suggestions or questions, please share them with your Association as we advance the discussion and provide content addressing this important issue. Please email Katie Clark

Posted in Compliance News.