what Canada’s leading AML expert has to say about risk, compliance and online account opening

Many of you have shared that one of your key concerns around online member acquisition is risk and compliance. You’ve also asked us to tell you more about how cumulus™ – our online onboarding solution gets such big results while at the same time meeting FINTRAC and AML compliance.

We get it. Facilitating the opening of accounts online is rapidly emerging as a primary requirement. It needs to tick every box. It makes sense that people need added reassurance that all barriers are removed and that compliance and regulation bases are covered.

That’s why we are collaborating with Canada’s AML industry leader Matthew McGuire, a Chartered Professional Accountant who leads the National Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Practice and the Investigative and Forensic Services Group in Ontario for MNP LLP.

Matthew is also:

Together with his team of full-time dedicated AML specialists in offices across Canada, Matthew leverages his regulatory and investigative experience to empower companies and governments with regulatory compliance and financial crime risk mitigation strategies, guiding them through regulatory exams and interventions, assisting with financial crime investigations and providing litigation support.

Since his time as an intelligence analyst with FINTRAC, Matthew has been speaking regularly on the topic of money laundering and financial crime to reporting entities, law enforcement, prosecutors, financial intelligence units, universities and conferences. He also authors articles for periodicals.

His many other credentials include:

  • an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Accounting degree from the University of Waterloo
  • received and was valedictorian for the University of Toronto’s Diploma in Investigative and Forensic Accounting program at the Rotman School of Management
  • certified as an Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists
  • accredited as an Anti-Money Laundering Professional (AMLP) by the Bank Administration Institute
  • qualified and admitted by the Ontario Superior Court of Justice as an expert witness in forensic accounting and money laundering
  • testified before Senate committees and before the House of Commons Finance Committee and matters related to money laundering legislation

Chat with Matthew at our upcoming webinar
Bring your compliance and risk colleagues (along with your marketing and operations leaders), to our 45 minute webinar on August 19th, where we will show you how cumulus™ is changing the game in the online space, and meeting every AML and FINTRAC requirement.

We know that it’s hard to be first in adopting a new technology. Join us and see how comfortable it is to take the leap into digital member onboarding.

Register for our August 19th webinar with Matthew McGuire here.



getting social with our first U.S. credit union

We are very excited to welcome Western Federal Credit Union to the thirdstream family. As a happy added bonus, Western is our first U.S. credit union client.

This dynamic and progressive FI is one the largest credit unions in the United States with more than $1.9 billion in assets and nearly 170,000 account holders across the country.

Western’s corporate office headquarters are in Manhattan Beach, California. They also have a Regional Midwest Office in Bentonville, Arkansas to support their mid-west and east coast account holders and branches.

The Western team has already done an impressive job of establishing a strong foundation in social channels, but they don’t want to stop there. They feel that deepening engagement with their members on social platform requires fresh insight and a renewed strategy. They’re ready to take things to the next level.

We were thrilled when they contacted us in early 2014 to find out more about what we could do for them. Moving forward as their social marketing strategy partner, we will:

  • plan and execute an annual content strategy
  • develop an annual social marketing flight plan
  • establish a collaboration with the Western team to help them manage their weekly social marketing
  • source relevant content aligned to the strategy and the established flight plan

This is a great group of people and we’re so pleased to be working with them. We look forward to sharing the many successes that they are bound to achieve as they ‘up’ their already considerable game in social channels. We’ll keep you posted.

meeting your increased IT challenges

In January of this year, we made a strategic shift in how we handle and protect data by joining forces with BlackBridge Networks, a leading Canadian technology service provider offering world-class cloud based application hosting services.

This collaboration with BlackBridge allows us to provide a state of the art, secure environment that supports our credit union clients’ goals in conjunction with our web-based financial solutions.

We recently sat down with Mike Stechyshyn, ‎Director of Business Development at BlackBridge Networks to ask him a few important questions about the company and its services.

What separates BlackBridge from other cloud service providers?
Cloud by its name sounds very ephemeral – way out there and not easy to touch. In reality, a cloud is like any other product or service and it’s helpful to understand more about who is providing it.

BlackBridge is a 100 % privately held Canadian company with operations in Lethbridge and Calgary as well as a significant presence in Berlin, Germany.

BlackBridge owns the land and buildings that house our cloud operations, offering a level of stability that is rare in this industry. Our data centre is one of the finest facilities in Canada, built to the highest standards both from a physical structure and the operating equipment inside. Specifically:

  • the walls are one foot thick concrete panels
  • state of the art waterless fire suppression
  • all of our computer and network  infrastructure is “carrier grade” high-end equipment engineered for high performance and availability with redundancy built into all major systems

Data is always stored in Canada for those clients concerned with data sovereignty issues.

Security of data is top of mind for our credit union clients. How does our partnership with BlackBridge benefit them from this perspective?
One cannot go and buy a product called “security”. Security is a multi-layer approach that, in combination, offers a very high level of protection.

At BlackBridge it starts with our data centre – a windowless fortress of concrete that from the exterior appears as a nondescript industrial building. Access to the facility is very tightly controlled with dual factor authentication for access and is monitored by closed circuit TV.

Our cloud infrastructure, is built using VMware technology – the same technology employed by the world’s largest companies – offering high levels of security and availability. The cloud infrastructure is located in the most secure room in the facility – a room that can only be accessed by a very small subset of our employees.

Recently BlackBridge completed the Service Organization Control (SOC 2) examination – the newest industry standard for providers of outsourced services and were one of the first companies in Canada to do so. This examination looks beyond the facility at the people and processes to ensure compliance with industry best practices.

We believe the combination of the security aspects of the facility and compliance with SOC 2 principles offer clients peace of mind with respect to security of hosting with BlackBridge.

Speed and connectivity are of vital importance to our clients. How do you ensure that both are industry standard?
Connectivity is paramount for the services we provide to our clients. BlackBridge employs a sophisticated BGP (borderless gateway patrol) gateway that monitors connectivity to the Internet. In the event of a loss of connectivity to our primary carrier, it automatically switches to a different carrier to ensure uninterrupted service to our clients. We connect to multiple carriers to ensure vital connectivity is always maintained. 

Speed is important, too. The BlackBridge Networks data centre is connected by a high speed network to a number of carriers. Performance of client’s connectivity is monitored by the Network Operations Centre (NOC) staff and we work in conjunction with our clients to ensure performance needs are met at all times.

What is BlackBridge’s back-up strategy?
We offer a fully redundant cloud stack. That means that if we lose a server, VMware can automatically transferred the workload to another server. We also offer an off-site back up location for data in the very unlikely event of loss of the data centre.

Tell us  more about being a Canadian solution.
We are a proudly Canadian company headquartered in Lethbridge, Alberta. We also compete and excel in the global marketplace. For example, we have:

  • clients in over 130 counties
  • acquired the assets of a major German satellite organization with offices in Berlin
  • operate a constellation of 5 satellites that can image any point on our planet every 24 hours

In spite of these significant global initiatives within our company, we remain firmly grounded in Canada. We believe that we can create jobs for Canadians in Alberta that allow our employees to live here while at the same time building products and services that serve clients locally, nationally and globally.

We have grown from one person in 1999 to over 150 today and believe that the best years are ahead of us.

Learn more about BlackBridge Networks here.


Meet our director of social marketing

When she’s not engaging with influencers on Twitter or scheduling Facebook posts for us or our clients, she’s learning all she can about how to create the highest rates of engagement and conversion. When she’s not doing that, she’s researching every topic related to social media or implementing best practices to ensure our clients are leading the way. And she doesn’t stop working at the end of the day, either. Even outside of office hours, she’s learning, researching, responding and refining her insights. As our director of social marketing, she’s on an endless learning curve.

That’s Kristy Jahn-Smith – our talented, insightful, hard working, creative, team-playing, networking and all-around awesome director of social marketing.

Here are some other cool facts about Kristy.

Tell us about yourself
I am an Alberta girl, but I love to travel. I have spent time in some great, far flung places on the planet. I married an American guy and our kids are dual citizens. I hated gym class in high school, but have since come to enjoy an active lifestyle. I wish I had a dog, but I have a cat. I am ambitious, adventurous, introspective, crafty, slightly contrarian but open minded.

When did you join the thirdstream team?
July 2, 2013.

What is your role with thirdstream?
Director of social marketing, which means I’m a social marketing strategist.

What appeals to you the most about the work you do with thirdstream?
Working in what is a relatively new and cutting edge field.  Because things are always changing in the social media world, there is always more to learn to keep up.

What do you appreciate the most about being part of this team?
Working with great people, masters in their disciplines, who are extremely talented and creative.

Anything else?
In my former career as a professional cook, I once got to cook dinner for Robert Redford.

Now for the fun stuff

Edmonton, Alberta.

Alberta, British Columbia, Italy, Japan, South Africa.

Grew up in which decade
I am a child of the ’80’s.

Biggest musical (or other) influence when you were growing up
Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Favourite tune/band on your iPod right now
It’s a playlist called “SPEED” that energizes me when I am running.

Huge fan of
Japanese and Indian food, world travel and my kids

Family you’d like to mention?
Husband (Robb) and two girls (Cadence and Koloe).

You’re happiest when
I am traveling or enjoying the rare TV show or movie with a glass of wine.

Other Hobbies/Interests
Triathlon, skiing, running, wine, travel, cooking, gardening and attempting crafty endeavours.

Favourite Beverage
Just one? Coffee, red wine and tea.

Greatest inspiration
My kids. They make me want to be better, stronger, smarter and more confident.

Greatest achievement (so far)
Surviving adventures of my youth, like three months backpacking in India alone and a motorcycle trip down the west coast.

meet our Client Care Coordinator

When we decided to dedicate a team member to the role of Client Care Coordinator, we knew it would have to be someone who was smart and efficient, a good listener and easy to talk to. The person in that role would need to be conscientious, understand our software and our processes and be able to communicate well with the team.

Fortunately for us – and our clients – we didn’t have to look far. We found all of that and more in Isaac Prusky, a member of our team since 2007.

Isaac started out in an administrative role but it was evident immediately that he had much more to offer our team. He helped us enormously as our social media guru before handing that role off to Kristy Jahn-Smith last year. More recently, he’s been instrumental in his roles as copy editor and quality assurance coordinator. Aside from his keen insight and dedication to his roles, Isaac also knows more than anyone else we know about music, movies and really cool television.

Here are some other cool facts about our new Client Care Coordinator.

When did you join the thirdstream team?
July, 2007.

What is your role with thirdstream?
Client care and account maintenance.

What appeals to you the most about the work you do with thirdstream?
I think what appeals the most to me about the work I do is the pleasure I get from helping others. Acting as the bridge between the client and thirdstream is not always an easy task, but hearing someone express their gratitude about a job well done makes it all worthwhile. Knowing that what I do contributes to the successful completion of a project fills me with pride not only for myself but for our company at large.

In 1-2 sentences, what do you appreciate the most about being part of this team?
The support I receive from this team on a daily basis is absolutely staggering. Everyone realizes the importance of everyone else’s role and we are constantly working together to achieve greatness.

Now for the fun stuff

November 23, 1989 in Vancouver.

Lethbridge with short stops in New Haven Connecticut and Richmond, Virginia.

Grew up in which decade
The tail end of the ‘90s into the first decade of the ‘00s

Biggest musical (or other) influence when you were growing up
In terms of music, I’d say Neil Young or Tom Waits. There are too many to name otherwise!

Favourite tune/band on your iPod right now
The new Swans album is terrific. I’m also enjoying a lot of obscure soul and funk compilations lately.

Huge fan of
Record collecting, watching films, reading.

You’re happiest when
Spending time with my family, friends or loved ones; also, the simple pleasures of reading, listening to music, or watching films.

Other Hobbies/Interests
Training at the gym, skiing, media studies.

Favourite Beverage
A well-made cup of black coffee.

Greatest inspiration
My parents. All of whom are highly intelligent, compassionate and full of life.

Greatest achievement (so far)
So far, all the travelling I’ve been able to do, owning a home and graduating university by 24 (and travelled to space 5 times).

how can we help you?

We’ve dedicated an enormous and gratifying amount of energy into building software and marketing solutions for our credit union clients over the years. These solutions are creative, exciting and on the leading edge of emerging digital technology and online trends.

Equally as exciting is how steadily we are growing. Our client base continues to expand across Canada and into the United States. Our partnerships with key players are forming in ways that will allow us to deliver increasingly comprehensive, customized solutions to FIs of every size and asset base. This is a very exciting time in our journey as a company.

So how do we continue to grow at such a dynamic pace while at the same time keeping our our promise to help credit unions grow? How do we ensure that our clients’ needs remain at the centre of every goal, project, campaign and business solution?

It starts with dedicating one of the finest members of our team to ensuring that client care stays at the forefront of our brand promise. Each and every day. We’re happy to announce that Isaac Prusky, a member of our team since 2007, has taken on this important role for us. To no one’s surprise, he is doing a great job.

He doesn’t work alone, of course. He’s supported by everyone from our office staff to our CEO. Along with the rest of the team, Isaac endeavours to live by our client care code of conduct to:

  • show respect
  • be honest and accountable
  • demonstrate empathy and understanding
  • listen attentively
  • respond positively
  • consistently deliver on promises

Some of the tasks he manages with our team include:

  • daily communication with our clients by phone, email or Skype
  • quarterbacking maintenance and other requests
  • communicating requests/concerns to the appropriate thirdstream team member
  • providing clients with updates and information as required
  • following up with clients until the request has been completed

The roots of our journey as a company lie in the relationships we have with our credit union clients. Our continued success depends on maintaining, nurturing and evolving these relationships. Our renewed dedication to client care is one small but significant way to ensure that we continue to meet our clients’ expectations and needs. Each and every day.

a week with Pragmatic Marketing

We make a big commitment to continuing education at thirdstream. The more we know, the better we can meet the needs of our clients’ emerging needs. That education comes in the form of weekly think-tanks and deep dives into industry research and trends. We also regularly attend conferences and courses that will help us stay ahead of the curve.

We recently sent Jeff Coomber, our UX Director to Seattle, Washington to take part in a week-long series of courses offered by Pragmatic Marketing. 

Pragmatic Marketing is a product management methodology for the technology industry. The instructors who deliver the courses are considered thought-leaders in product management and marketing development.

Since 1993, the Pragmatic Marketing team has:

  • trained more than 100,000 product management and marketing professionals at 7,000 companies on six continents
  • been repeatedly honoured by Inc. magazine as one of the fastest-growing private companies in America (2000, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013)
  • named by Comerica Bank as a Company to Watch
  • led the product management and marketing groups at many of today’s leading technology companies

During his week with the Pragmatic Marketing team, Jeff took the following courses:

Foundations, which reinforced how important it is to understanding your market and to use that understanding to guide decisions, prioritize projects, uncover opportunities and drive results. A perfect fit with our personification philosophy.

Focus, which gave him insight into how to use market data to identify the best product strategies, build product plans, gain consensus among key stakeholders and use roadmaps to articulate the vision.

Build, to prioritize requirements based on the understood needs of the users and what they are trying to accomplish, improve the handoff between departments  and build targeted solutions and innovative products. This course also focused on the value of implementing a universal approach, regardless of location or methodology (Waterfall, Agile, hybrid, etc.).

Jeff came away from the week with the Pragmatic Marketing team armed with practical, actionable ideas that dovetail with our own ‘outside-in’ client-centric approach. Jeff sums up his week like so:

“I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn and discuss product management theory and experience with other product managers. The course really helped bring an enhanced focus to solving problems for our clients and ensuring we provide the most value to them.”

a refreshing approach to mortgage renewal capture

Mortgage renewal time is an opportunity for homeowners to examine how hard their mortgage – and mortgage provider – is working to make the most of their money. Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU)* recognized this. They also recognized mortgage renewal time as an ideal opportunity to deepen their relationship with current members and to forge new in-roads with potential members.

SASCU asked us to help them find a creative and strategic way to reach out to members and potential members about mortgage renewal. We were happy to help.

SASCU is a vibrant, community hearted-credit union that is guided by a promise to provide world class products and services for every phase of their members’ lives. While they can compete on rate and have a wide range of mortgage products for members to choose from, that wasn’t the goal of this campaign. Instead, they simply wanted to find a way to:

  • start a conversation about mortgage renewal
  • empower members/potential members to initiate further contact
  • facilitate a one-to-one ‘mortgage check-up’ with members/potential prior to renewing their mortgage

We worked closely with Deanie Foley Gillespie, SASCU’s Marketing Manager to ensure that the concept would:

  • resonate with the target audience
  • reflect something that staff could get behind
  • differentiate SASCU in the mortgage renewal landscape
  • establish a feeling of relationship rather than ‘sell’

The creative outcome
We chose a very literal spin on the word ‘renew’ to evoke feelings like ‘fresh, clean and possible’ and chose words that would support the concept as well as SASCU’s brand.SASCU_Digital_Display

The strategy
A contest to win a weekend for two at a nearby spa provided incentive for members/potential members to initiate contact with SASCU. This prize reinforced the concept of ‘renewal’ perfectly.

See the campaign in action here and here.


responsive CMS

Managing your site should be as simple as possible. Guided by this philosophy, thirdstream labs is proud to announce the complete redesign of our Content Management System (CMS).

With our newly designed CMS, each section of your site is laid out strategically to allow you to naturally progress through various steps of managing your site. Even a ‘CMS novice’ can easily: 

  • update, add or delete pages
  • edit with an ease and functionality similar to Microsoft Word
  •  add images
  • embed videos
  • create internal and outbound links
  • add keywords to support an SEO strategy

Not only is it simple to use, this CMS is fully responsive. That means that you can use your computer, tablet, phone or any other device that has internet access to make updates to your site. 

thirdstream + Fiserv

What do you get when you put core banking and online member onboarding together? A powerful partnership that will transform the virtual branch as a concept into an absolute reality.

We’re very happy to announce that we have established this kind of partnership with Fiserv.

about Fiserv
Fiserv is a leading global provider of information management and electronic commerce systems for the financial services industry, driving innovations that transform experiences for more than 14,500 clients worldwide. In Canada, Fiserv dominates the core banking industry, serving the banking floor needs of 40 percent of the Canadian credit union community, along with other banks and trust companies.

in perfect alignment
Our partnership with Fiserv is a perfect alignment. It fuses the power of DNA™ core banking with the far-reaching potential of cumulus™, our online member onboarding solution. cumulus™ already makes it possible for people to:

  • join a credit union
  • open an account
  • request a loan or mortgage
  • purchase loan protection insurance

Integrating this with Fiserv DNA™ increases the power of both solutions exponentially.

Keith Ginter, CTO of thirdstream sees this partnership between Fiserv and thirdstream as a natural fit. 

‘With the DNA™ core in place as a proven system, along with the extensibility of the platform, it allows for our tried and true methodology to seamlessly integrate as a complete end-to-end solution.  Furthermore, as we develop new ways to add value to the user experience, Fiserv is there to support us in achieving our goals, and ultimately the goals of our credit union partners and their members.

George Hofsink, Vice President and Managing Director of Fiserv Canada takes this vision one step further, saying,

‘This partnership between Fiserv and thirdstream is the foundation for a virtual institution that is, really, the institution of the future.’

delivering on the promise of the virtual branch
The time has come for a full-service virtual banking experience that not only makes online transactions simple for the user, but also supports a credit union’s internal business processes and satisfies compliance requirements.

Companies like thirdstream and Fiserv have been working hard to find the solutions that can provide this to credit unions and their members for years.

Hofsink says:

‘The promise of the virtual branch that’s been in the market for a decade has consistently fallen short. This has been due in part to supporting vendors not understanding the needs of the FI and consumers not being ready for it, and the technology not being consistent.’

Hofsink believes that this is where the power of the Fiserv + thirdstream partnership comes in:

‘Our two companies working together is what is needed to finally deliver on the promise of a virtual branch. Together, we can combine the technology, member experience and transaction processing engine.Together, we are creating a digital ecosystem for credit unions that works and will generate results.’

taking member onboarding to a whole new level
Christian Clapton, thirdstream’s CEO believes:

Integrating our cumulus™ with DNA™ will take online member origination to a whole new level. Our integrated best-of-breed solution will be so finely-tuned to members’ needs that it will do more than satisfy their desire for a virtual branch. We believe it will lead to the kind of experience that will empower members financially and deepen their relationship with their credit union.’

Hofsink couldn’t agree more.

‘Going forward, we believe that Fiserv and thirdstream can do far more together than either of us could do on our own.’