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20 0 9 —VOL .







Phoenix Rising


CUs help members in financial trouble come out on top.


New Mindset


Managing a CUSO requires a different thought process than running a credit union. By Ron Jooss HUMAN RESOURCES

Sudden Loss


It happens. You go to work one day and a co-worker isn’t there because she died the night before. Here’s how two credit unions handled such a crisis, logistically and emotionally. By Angie Gallop MARKETING

Evolution of an Idea


Build innovation from a series of good thoughts. By Charlene Komar Storey Web-Only Bonus: Two at a Time ( and Everything Old is New Again ( O P E R AT I O N S

The Geography of ATMs


Locate automated teller machines based on your overall strategic branching plan. By Diane Franklin Web-Only Bonus: Evaluating ATM Performance ( evaluatingatmperformance) BOARD

Keeping Score


Balanced scorecards help boards stay in the game. By Dave Windsheimer

APRIL 2009






APRIL 2009 —VOL . 32 NO. 4


C U E S . O R G


Web-only bonus articles • Online-only column • CUES Tech Port feature highlight

Service is King—by Neil Bartlett CU Members Mortgage helps credit unions mine mortgage lending opportunities. Rising 100­ In 2008, nine executives were inducted into CUES Rising 100. This month, we feature three of them: Jason Peach, Jim Craig and Belinda Caillouet, CSE.


M a n a ge m e n t Ne t w or k 10

The Employee Pulse: Morale Boosters—by Kerry Liberman Here are five ways to motivate your employees on a limited budget.

Connex CU asks ‘What’s up with banks?’ • Bosses behaving badly • What I’ve learned ... • Heard around town • Insights



CUES Golden Mirror Awards Congratulations to all the winners!

oper a t i o n s


Rising From Ashes—by Karen Bankston Like a phoenix flies out of the flames, members in financial trouble are getting help from CUs and finding a way out.

Web-Only Bonus: Talk to us First ( )



Juggling Act—by Steve Swantson Hiring a new CEO includes an endless list of considerations. An executive search firm can help you keep the balls in the air.

spec i a l spo n sore d sec t i o n


What Does Gen Y Want?—by Bryan Ochalla Here’s how Millennial credit union employees and a director answered this question regarding financial services.

Web-Only Bonus: Gen Y and Social Media (


APRIL 2009


Glimpse of hope

h u m a n resources


f ro m t h e e d i t or





P ro d uc t s & S er v i ces


Social media glossary • Ad index

C U E S Ne w s


Johnson honored by AACUC • CUES announces CEO Institute scholarship recipients • The Golden 1 Credit Union scholarship winners choose CUES

C a l e n d a r


CUES introduces DLI: Governance

C U E S S k y b ox Leading in times of uncertainty


• The most comprehensive, structured and successful discretionary overdraft payment service in the industry • A high interest rate checking product that will provide distinct marketing advantages and improve core deposits • Best-in-class, guidance packages designed to ensure program compliance, effectiveness and sustainability • Proven solutions to increase core deposits, enhance earnings, and to improve member benefits • A business partner whose goal is to improve your efficiency ratio • 800.728.3116





APRIL 2009 —VOL. 32 NO. 4

web-only bonus coverage from this issue Everything Old is New Again (bonus from Evolution of an Idea, p. 36) In today’s troubled economic times, credit unions may be most innovative by returning to their roots, experts suggest. Andy Hines, futurist/director of customer projects for Social Technologies, a futurist consultancy, says one thing that sets credit unions apart is the high degree of trust their customer base has in them. “It’s a huge asset, and something to build on,” he says. These days, that can mean emphasizing the credit union difference “without getting too finger-wagging.” Evaluating ATM Performance (bonus from Evaluating ATM Performance, p. 44) A major component of ATM placement is ongoing evaluation, which will enable CUs to audit performance and make adjustments accordingly. “If a credit union has 15 ATMs, it’s not unusual to find that one-third are underperforming,” says Paul Seibert, CMC, VP/financial services for CUES Supplier member EHS Design Inc., a Seattle-based design and consulting firm. “A major reason is because they are not well-located.” Talk to us First (bonus from Rising From Ashes, p. 48) Credit unions are reaching out with workshops, fraud information and telling troubled members “to talk to us first when it comes to their financial concerns.” These articles and more are available at Choose “April 2009” from the “Past Issues” pull-down menu in the middle of the page.

online-only column

Subscribe to our free e-newsletters! Get CUES FYI with links to our online-only columns and bonus articles. Subscribe at enewslettersubscribe/. Also read CUES Tech Port News to Go. It’s full of timely technology news and analysis. Subscribe at cuestech



Inside Marketing: Gen Y Needs Financial Education Few financial services come with an owner’s manual or detailed instructions containing the dos and don’ts of how to use and maintain products like checking and credit card accounts. While the skills needed for managing a credit card or setting a budget may come quite naturally to some, those skills are foreign to a great many consumers, including members of Gen Y. Read the column at fyi/21909insidemarketing. Receive future items like this in your inbox (see box at left).

CUES Tech PoRT feature highLight Fighting Fraud with Available Technologies Bob Roth, CBCP, senior director and practice manager of risk management services at Cornerstone Advisors Inc. (, seldom sees cases of credit unions attacking fraud with the vigor demonstrated in rolling out many other technologies. Why? Find out in his recent article at cuestechport. com/209fightingfraud. CUES Tech Port is a benefit for CUES and CUES Supplier members. If you need your members-only password, please e-mail Anyone can subscribe to CUES Tech Port’s free monthly News to Go e-newsletter.

APRIL 2009

CUES Executive Search in Partnership with JMFA ESG

“Your methodical recruiting and interview process

ensured the candidate would be able to deliver on the board’s expectations.

You clearly understood

that the directors at U of I Employees Credit Union wanted to have a strong dialog about strategy and strategic planning.” E.J. Donaghey President/CEO University of Illinois Employees Credit Union

Got an Executive Seat to Fill? Take advantage of JMFA’s massive referral network to find the perfect fit for the empty corner office at your credit union. You will benefit from the vital industry connections and insights from consultants who are former financial services executives themselves. To discover how JMFA has helped fill other empty executive chairs visit; call 866.264.5017; or e-mail today.

CUES Executive Search in Partnership with JMFA ESG © 2008 John M. Floyd & Associates, Inc.


Glimpse of Hope If you ever need a reminder of why you do what you do, be sure to check out this issue’s cover story. “Rising From Ashes,” p. 48, looks at how several CUs are helping members avoid the financial ruin of foreclosure. Unlike the articles we read so often about seemingly indifferent lenders, this is one of individual attention—about looking for ways to make things work for members and their CUs. As CUES member Brett Martinez, president/CEO of $1.8 billion Redwood Credit Union (, Santa Rosa, Calif., puts it, “Many (members) have experienced so much rejection, frustration and unresponsiveness that they are surprised at how concerned and helpful we are.” Members may be surprised, but I’m not. I bet just about every credit union could tell a similar story. And I hope you will! When you keep a member in his home by rewriting a loan or preserve her credit score by arranging a short sale over foreclosure, share these uplifting stories with your staff. Make sure they know how the CU is making a difference, and they’ll be even prouder to be part of your team. Perhaps a member you’ve helped would be willing to share his experience with a reporter. With all the tragic news we’re submitted to every day, an article about how you saved a member from an unscrupulous credit “counselor” is sure to be well-read— and show that your CU is a trusted advisor. Likewise, I’m happy to say that good news is sprinkled throughout this magazine issue. Starting on p. 18, for example, we continue profiling our 2008 CUES Suppliers of the Year, with a look at CU Members Mortgage. Next, on p. 20-22, meet three of our 2008 CUES Rising 100 inductees. Then—drum roll, please—we reveal the winners of the 2009 CUES Golden Mirror Awards™, including the prestigious GMA Best of Show, GMA Rookie of the Year and GMA Golden Shoestring, all starting on p. 40. Congratulations, everyone, for your excellent work promoting credit unions. And, speaking of marketing, we even have a bright spot to share in the quest to gain favor with Gen Y. While CUs often think they can only attract Gen Y with the latest and greatest, those interviewed for “What Does Gen Y Want?” sound like they aren’t that much different from everyone else. “We’re looking for a place where we can keep our money safe and where we can get loans if we need them,” says Justin Ho, a 21-year-old USC student and director at $349 million USC Credit Union (, Los Angeles. Read more thoughts from the newest generation of CU staffers and directors, starting on p. 30, in a special section sponsored by CUES Supplier member PSCU (

Mary Auestad Arnold Editor and Publisher



APRIL 2009

Carla Altepeter, CCE Chairman Oshkosh, Wis. Dale F. Schumacher, CCUE Vice Chairman/Chairman-Elect Tampa, Fla. Frederick D. Healey Treasurer Fitchburg, Mass. Lary McCants, CCD, CCE Secretary Boca Raton, Fla. Mark Hawkins Immediate Past Chairman/Director Riverside, Calif. Carol A. Humenick, CCE Past Chairman/Director Thorndale, Pa. Teresa Y. Freeborn Director El Segundo, Calif. Robert D. Ramirez, CCE Director Tucson, Ariz. Shelley Clarke Director Ogden, Utah

MAGAZINE STAFF President/CEO Fred Johnson, Editor and Publisher Mary Auestad Arnold, Editors Lisa Hochgraf, Marketing/Operations Sections Ron Jooss, General Management/Board Sections Theresa Witham, Human Resources Section Art Director Ellen Bartholomew, Graphic Designers Jeremy Jochman, Theran Michaelis, VP/Sales Karin Weiss, Sales Manager Greg Michlig, Advertising & Sales Assistant Kim Drone, Credit Union Management (ISSN 0273-9267) is published monthly—including an annual buyer’s guide— by the Credit Union Executives Society (CUES ® ), 5510 Research Park Drive, Madison, WI 53711-5377. Telephone: 800.252.2664 or 608.271.2664. E-mail: Web site: Periodicals postage paid at Madison, Wis. (USPS 0569710). Copyright 2009 by CUES. Materials may not be reproduced without written permission. Manuscript submissions and advertising are welcome. The appearance of an advertisement does not imply endorsement by CUES. Editorial opinions and comments in the magazine are not necessarily those of CUES. Annual subscription rate for CUES, CUES Director members and CUES Supplier members is $ 89 (base price), which is included in dues. Additional subscriptions ... $ 89. Non-member subscriptions ... $139. Single copy ... $10. SUBSCRIPTIONS Outside the U.S. WILL BE INVOICED FOR additional postage costs. For high-quality article reprints of 100 or more, call CUES at 800.252.2664, extension 5302. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to the Credit Union Executives Society, P.O. Box 14167, Madison, WI 53708-0167.

Heard Around Town “Every branding consultant will tell you your brand isn’t your logo.” Christopher Stevenson, in the CUES Nexus Connection blog, “I’ve Had Enough Chicken Soup, Thank You,”

Bosses Behaving Badly

Connex CU Asks ‘What’s Up With Banks?’

$366 million/40,000-member Connex Credit Union (www., North Haven, Conn., has leveraged the collective voice of the consumer and the power of the Internet in a unique branding campaign that seeks to differentiate the credit union from its banking competitors. Connex CU’s Unbank campaign is anchored by the Web site, which features a message board based around the question, “What’s with banks?” that not so subtly encourages consumers to write down all their beefs about banks. One anonymous Web site poster wrote: “A couple of years ago I was banking with one of the big national banks. All of a sudden they started charging me an $8.00/month ‘check processing fee.’ No one had a clear explanation what it was or why it happened without warning. When I inquired at my branch I was told, ‘It’s a monthly fee that is charged for the processing of your checks.’ Gee, ya think? I gathered that by the name.” The Web site also streams interviews with local residents who share their frustrations on camera. A couple of rappers and a pair of pirates even take part in the conversation. (You’ll have to watch it for yourself.) Tansley Stearns, CME, CSE, VP/sales and service at Connex CU, says the Web site is designed to differentiate the credit union from banks and increase awareness of the credit union’s services. “One of the major issues that we see for ourselves specifically, and, I think, for credit unions in general, is that consumers just don’t know a lot of times the difference between credit unions and banks. So often we hear from people that are within our field of membership that they didn’t know they could join or they didn’t know all the things that you do.”



APRIL 2009

Bad bosses are bad business, and Andrew O’Keeffe wrote a book to make just that point. The author of the scathing new novel, The Boss, a May 2009 release from Greenleaf (, has worked in human resources and understands the impact managers have in the lives of their employees. The heroine in his book navigates her way through numerous encounters with bosses who behave badly with no regard for the havoc they wreak. The factor most driving people’s satisfaction with work is the person’s immediate manager. O’Keeffe sites statistics from a number of studies to demonstrate this point: • The Corporate Leadership Council (www.corporate studied 23 job factors to find what most causes a person to stay or leave their organization. It wasn’t work challenge, nor salary nor recognition—it’s the quality of the manager; a person who works for a quality boss is unlikely to look elsewhere. • In a study of 60,000 exit interviews, 80 percent of people who resign from their job do so to escape their immediate manager (from the book Love ‘Em or Lose ‘Em by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans). • Bad bosses are a health hazard—one study has found that stressful bosses increase the incidence of heart attack by up to 64 percent. O’Keeffe said the struggle most people face when they work for a bad manager is trying to cling to their self-esteem and avoid sliding into helplessness and self-doubt. People can feel trapped, he said, as they have to stay where they are to retain their income. “It soon becomes an either-or situation,” he said. “In a bad economy, it’s more difficult to find a new job, so managers find that their power base is increased and workers discover that they have little choice but to cater to the whims of their superiors. I wrote this book as a way to bring this situation to light, and to demonstrate to both executives and employees that it doesn’t have to be this way—we need to learn how to lead effectively in business so that people don’t have to choose between their income and their self-esteem. In a civilized society, we should be allowed to have both. In a civilized society, happy workers should not be a dying breed.”

BY ron jooss

What I’ve Learned … By CUES member Jon Reske, VP/marketing at $250 million/23,000-member, U-Mass/Five College FCU, Amherst, Mass. As a marketer, I wonder why credit unions often seem to take the easy way out when it comes to choosing between keeping or cutting out a particular communication tool. I love the line, “It doesn’t work so we dropped it.” As often as anything else, newsletters are the item on the chopping block. Did you ever think of just improving the darn thing so people will read it? That’s what we did at U-Mass/Five College Federal Credit Union. We did a telephone survey several years ago and found out that—surprise!—people weren’t really reading our newsletter. We committed ourselves to making our newsletter interesting to read by giving our members valuable information they can use. We made it simple to read with straight-to-the-point copy, snappy headlines and a straightforward, yet eye-catching layout. We provide stories about real members and employees and the successes they are having in their lives. We give our readers financial tips they can use today. For example, in our most recent newsletter, we provide our members with an article on credit cards titled, “Beware of What You Have in Your Wallet,” a take-off of Capital One’s “What do you have in your wallet?” campaign. In the article, we explain to readers the changing dynamics of the credit card industry, specifically increasing rates, decreasing credit limits, more fees. We offer readers five questions. If they answer yes to any of them, we suggest they might want to reconsider using their current card. Does our credit union offer a credit card that we would recommend? Sure, but that’s not the focus of the story. Our financial investment service also has used the newsletter for timely articles with good tips. We also quit sending our newsletter with statements. That’s the “we-can-save-postage” short-sighted thinking I’m talking about. I say that because we learned in our phone survey that a lot of people don’t even open up their statements so they never saw the newsletter to begin with. With online banking that’s probably more true than ever. So we took ours out of the statement mailer, enlarged it (it’s now 22-by-15 inches, full color) and improved the copy and layout. Last year we increased the number of times we send it out to six so members get it every 60 days instead of quarterly. We did a follow-up survey after several issues and learned that 50 percent of our members read the newsletter in its entirety. About 25 percent of the membership reads about half the newsletter. Readership is nice, but we also are getting results that affect our bottom line. We started a new mortgage program in January and the only way we publicized it was in the January/February newsletter. The newsletters dropped Jan. 8 and we have more than 35 mortgages in the pipeline because of that one piece. At an average mortgage of $150,000 that’s $5.2 million in new business in one month after that newsletter dropped. Not a bad return… We also offer an e-mail version of our newsletter. We now offer e-statements, and we’re going to offer to push the newsletter to our members via e-mail as a means of saving paper. One final note about the editorial content of your newsletter: A lot of credit unions, and organizations in general, like to feature the president’s letter as the lead story of their newsletter. We think this is a sure way to get your newsletter tossed in the member’s garbage can! The president’s letter tends to be impersonal and focus on the macro. Members want information that they can apply to their lives So as a marketer, I say don’t drop your newsletter … improve it and make it work for you. If you do it right, it can be a great way to communicate with your members. Good luck!


Write us with your thoughts

We welcome signed letters to the editor. Send your comments to: Letter to the Editor, CUES, P.O. Box 14167, Madison, WI 53708. Or fax 608.441.3402. Or e-mail

“The heart of it is you’ve got to be a really strong entrepreneur. That’s what you’re looking for in a good CUSO leader” Lisa Renner, CEO of CU Holding Company, LLC, Lennexa, Mass. in “New Mindset,” p. 12

APRIL 2009




Mindset BY Ron Jooss


redit union CEOs have a lot on their plates these days—rising delinquencies, the corporate credit union stabilization debacle and, of course, keeping good credit union members (relatively) happy during all the economic turmoil. Chances are a lot of CEOs haven’t been able to focus as much as they would like on such concepts as growth, innovation or entrepreneurship. Doug True, however, looks at the current climate and sees opportunity. ‘I’ve never seen a more opportune time than right now,” says True, SVP/technovation at $1 billion/103,000member FORUM Credit Union (, Indianapolis, and president of the credit union’s CUSO, FORUM Solutions. “I was talking to my boss, Gary (Irvin). I said, ‘Oh, gosh, watching CNN last night was so depressing. Our members are getting hit with these negative messages just nonstop. Maybe we can be a beacon of positivity here for our members, let them know that we’re here to help them out.’” True’s upbeat, opportunistic spirit is quite typical of a CUSO leader, according to those familiar with the position, or at least it should be. The requirements of running a CUSO simply differ in nature to running a credit union. “In a CUSO, particularly those that are multiply owned, you need to have someone that has entrepreneurial skills, collaborative skills, innovation skills and is willing to actually take a look at the business model that the CUSO is engaged in and be prepared to disrupt it and change it as new opportunities come on board,” says Guy Messick, an attorney with the law firm of Messick & Weber P.C. ( Media, Pa., who provides strategic planning and legal consultation to credit unions and CUSOs. “You sort of have be the type of person who is willing to break a few eggs to make an omelet. “I think in the CUSO world you have to adjust to the market quicker than you do in the credit union world.



APRIL 2009

Managing a CUSO requires a different thought process than running a credit union. Within the CU world you are so heavily regulated that you’re going to offer certain types of services and they are going to be very similar in nature to what other FIs in the industry offer. In the CUSO world, you have to adapt to the changing environment so you have the right product/service mix for your clients and prospective clients,” says John Revilla, CEO of CUSAG (www.cusag. com), Langdon, N.H., a multi-owned credit union service organization providing services in the areas of audit, compliance, collections/workouts, credit card portfolio review and broker services, education, and strategic planning. Start-Up Atmosphere Lisa Renner is CEO of CU Holding Company, LLC, an owner/partner of several CUSOs. She is also CEO of Beyond Marketing (, a full-service marketing CUSO. Echoing Messick, Renner says many CUSOs operate out of a start-up-like atmosphere, with all the personality demands that the leadership position of that type of enterprise implies. “The heart of it is you’ve got to be a really strong entrepreneur. That’s what you’re looking for in a good CUSO leader, and it’s something that when you’re an entrepreneur running a start-up businesses, you’ve got to be really good at. The demise of many small businesses is a leader that does not have really good business development and salesmanship skills. If you’re looking to stay in the office behind the computer screen running the day-to-day operations, a CUSO is probably not a good place for you.”

At the same time—and this runs counter to many people’s perceptions of the rebellious, entrepreneurial type—the CUSO CEO has to work with other organizations extensively, especially in the case of a multiply owned entity. “You’ve got to be willing to be a collaborator. I firmly believe that the ‘mine, mine, all mine strategy’ doesn’t work. It’s about working with other credit unions and CUSOs. And just because you built a CUSO doesn’t make it the greatest thing ever. I’ve got to be open to others’ ideas,” Renner suggests. “So, for example, I’m a partner in a mortgage CUSO. Let’s say if we were talking to another mortgage CUSO and we could bring more benefits to credit unions and,

more importantly, the credit union members, if the two of us combined or worked together in some way. I have to be very open-minded to their model and their way of doing business and always remember that it’s the member first. What is the model that serves the members’ need? That may not necessarily be the model I built. So, in other words, you kind of have to lose that my-way-orthe-highway mentality.” People Skills Messick and Renner both point out that the biggest part of

APRIL 2009



collaboration is old-fashioned people skills. For example, in a multiply owned CUSO each credit union may have a different level of interest, financially and emotionally. The CUSO leader’s job is to ensure the credit union CEOs remain fully engaged and stay on the same page. “You are serving different interests, and what often happens is that some of the credit unions will be more enthusiastic and passionate than others,” Messick says. “I constantly hear from people from multiply owned CUSOs that they will have different issues in every credit union and they must overcome those issues with a different approach in each instance. In order for CUSOs to be successful in those multiple credit union situations, you really have to have buy-in from the board of directors through staff, at all levels. And that’s why it’s important to get the CEO involved, because unless the CEO is supportive, you’re going to find that the CUSO is treated as an independent third-party provider and not really part of the family.” However, Revilla points out, being a credit union CEO requires its own set of collaboration skills as well. Credit union CEOs are challenged with meeting the unique demands of a volunteer board—and attracting new talent from Generations X and Y. At the same time, credit union CEOs must focus on growth and undivided earnings in an environment where margins are tight, so they can continuously offer members the latest products and services. “That takes a very talented individual to move a credit union forward in that direction, then mix it all in with having to deal with your regulator, who quite often has their own idea of how a credit union should behave and how it should act,” Revilla says. Both Sides If anyone can speak to both sides of credit union/CUSO leadership it’s Sherry Essman. Essman is currently CEO of $15 million/3,100-member Montana Health Federal Credit Union (, Billings, Mont. For nine years she was CEO of Credit Union Services of Montana, a CUSO owned by four Montana credit unions that primarily offered data processing, real estate processing, collections, marketing, ATM and electronic tax filing services. The difference between the two jobs comes down to one basic element: fiduciary responsibility. “I think on the credit union side, it’s definitely different because you have a fiduciary responsibility for all of your members and making sure that you’re taking care of their



APRIL 2009

money and that you’re making responsible decisions from the point of view of the credit union and what’s best for your membership,” Essman says. “On the CUSO side it’s a little more like running a basic corporation. You have shareholders. The end view is the member but, from the CUSO perspective, the middle view was the credit union. How do you take care of these credit unions and how do we make sure that they stay strong? How do we make sure that we are providing the products and services that they can then pass along to their members?” Interestingly, while Essman remains a strong advocate of CUSOs—indeed she treasures her CUSO experience—she does see things a bit differently from the big chair in a credit union. “From the CUSO side, I always thought, ‘Gosh, this is a no-brainer, why don’t these credit union CEOs just do these things with us and let us help them?’ And now from the CU side, I can see that we are not just singularly focused. The CUSO had all these great products and services, but the credit union had so much more to worry about than just those eight or 10 products that were coming from the CUSO, and it’s not as easy as it looked from the CUSO president’s side to say, ‘OK, we’re going to start a real estate loan program now just because the CUSO can do the processing.’ “I’ve got a bit different view sitting in the CU driver’s seat than I had in the CUSO driver’s seat. But I think the enthusiasm you have to have for your job and the ability to look ahead and see what is going to be good for this credit union, what is going to be good for the members, you have to have a sense of that from both positions.” Sales, too At the same time, Essman says salesmanship is definitely part of the CUSO CEO job description as well. “My background is product development from the CUSO side. We were constantly looking for things that were new and innovative but tested to a degree, because we were relatively small credit unions and there was only a certain amount of risk that we were all willing to take. But when we came up with some great idea, there was a certain amount of salesmanship on our side when we brought something to the board and said, ‘Wow we think you ought to try this.’” As for product development, Essman found that necessity was the mother of invention. “We were sitting at a board meeting one day and one of the CEOs said, ‘I just lost my collector. I don’t know what I’m going to do.’ I said, ‘Why can’t we do that here? Wouldn’t you love to pay me a fee and not have to worry about another employee and have me take over the hiring?’ And so we did that. “One of the credit unions had a collection department,

Hubert Hoosman, Jr. President & CEO Vantage Credit Union

behind the confidence. behind the peace of mind. the story begins with pscU financial services.

As a senior manager at Vantage Credit Union in St. Louis, Missouri, one of Hubert Hoosman, Jr.’s first strategic decisions was to cut ties with his former credit card processor and partner with PSCU Financial Services. That was more than 20 years ago. Today, as CEO of Vantage, he remains proud to call PSCU Financial Services, “truly a business partner, not a vendor.” PSCU Financial Services was founded by credit unions for credit unions, and our partnership with Vantage and so many others is based on the philosophy of shared vision, shared values. As a result of our best-in-class products and world-class service, Vantage continues to grow its relationship with PSCU Financial Services by adding additional products and services. “PSCU Financial Services consistently keeps us knowledgeable of the industry as far as trends coming down the road,” said Hoosman. “We make informed decisions based upon their professional input and partnership. That’s something you won’t get from the competition.”

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THE BOTTOM-LINE DIFFERENCE Perhaps the most fundamental difference between CUSOs and credit unions is on the balance sheet. Credit unions, of course, are not-for-profit entities, while CUSOs seek to make a profit on behalf of the credit union. Because of this, the financial management of the entities differs drastically, experts say. “The accounting is so different,” agrees Lisa Renner, CEO of CU Holding Company, LLC, an owner/partner of several CUSOs, and CEO of Beyond Marketing, a fullservice marketing CUSO. “We’re in a taxed environment and a credit union is not. I can remember the first time going to [a credit union] accounting department to ask a question about a tax situation and they were just a deer in the headlights. They simply don’t deal with taxes.” Renner says credit unions and CUSOs also differ because of the nature of the businesses they are in. CUSOs in many cases are run like small businesses, both philosophically and financially, and in small business, cash flow is king. “Cash flow in a CUSO is hugely important,” she says. “You rarely hear cash flow discussed in a credit union because they have plenty. It’s really not an issue. The CUSOs are essentially small businesses, and when we do make money, we’re very happy to be able to give dividend money back to our credit union owners but that takes cash flow.” Guy Messick, an attorney with the law firm of Messick & Weber P.C. (, Media, Pa., who provides strategic planning and legal consultation to credit unions and CUSOs, notes that CUSOs typically are formed for two reasons: 1) to provide financial services that could not otherwise be provided under a credit union charter; or 2) to provide efficiencies by pooling operational resources together. “Most credit unions will want a return on their investment in financial services to make sure they’re in the black, but they won’t want to make a profit at the expense of their members, because the CUSOs have to support that member relationship with the credit union. Usually, credit unions perceive that relationship as a big part of its competitive advantage.” Operational CUSOs are typically driven by the efficiencies they create, Messick says. “It’s going to be driven more by the savings that it can provide to the credit unions on the operational services, as well as perhaps provide CUs with more expertise than they can afford on their own. So the operational CUSOs are expense reduction driven and value driven, and on the financial services side, they are also value driven but the income the CUSO makes is more important to the perceived success of that CUSO.”

RESOURCES Read related articles on Choose “Article Archives” then “CUSOs.” Also read related articles on Choose “Articles by Topic” then “CUSOs.” If you need your CUES or CUES Supplier member password, e-mail

and we went and talked to their collections department and said, ‘how about working at the CUSO?’ We used their head collector and sat down with her and developed this great collections department at the CUSO level. This was one of the most popular services that we marketed to outside credit unions. Ideas come from all over the place.” Transferable Skills The idea-ripe environment of the CUSO has served Essman well, and she’s tried to bring that spirit to Montana Health FCU. “I attribute a lot of the success we’ve had at this credit union in the past two years to what I was able to learn at the CUSO.” She maintains that “idea generation also applies to the credit union environment. Some of the things we’ve done are totally visible to the members. We’ve implemented online bill-pay. We’ve really moved our audio-response forward. We redeveloped our Web site. We made home banking and online loan applications a huge part of our service offerings. We’re only a $15 million credit union, but we’re acting like a $100 million credit union. We’re able to do that because the board is receptive to new ideas and product generation that they probably hadn’t really experienced before—and that’s not to say anything negative about the previous management. I think idea generation and idea development is the reason why I can say that.” But virtually everyone associated with CUSOs agrees that if credit unions seek to gain a competitive edge through innovation in the financial services industry, it is in the fertile ground provided by CUSOs. “CUSOs are an excellent means by which CUs can experiment,” Messick says. “That’s where credit unions can collectively take some risks and develop some services that may or may not work. The ones that don’t work … I go back to Edison. How many materials did Edison go through before he found the right material to form the filament for the light bulb? Hundreds and hundreds. You do have to have that test tube for trying to find ways for credit unions to work together better and find new products for CU members to use and that’s what CUSOs are very good at providing that means to do that.” Jamie Swedberg is a free-lance writer based in Athens, Ga.



APRIL 2009

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BY Neil Bartlett


RESOURCES For more information about CUES Supplier Membership log on to cues. org/joinfsf/. Look for profiles of other 2008 CUES Supplier of the Year winners in the March issue and future issues of Credit Union Management.



APRIL 2009

the United States, with a portfolio of $12.5 billion. Advanced technology, including a Web site with an online mortgage application that delivers a firm decision in minutes, makes CU Members Mortgage one of the industry’s leading resources for mortgage services. Privately held and headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, CU Members Mortgage has branches located throughout the country. LOng-term Emphasis

Photo by Fred Yake Photographic services

U Members Mortgage has a singular focus. No, it’s not mortgages. “We only do business with credit unions,” says Steve Browne, CU Members Mortgagevice president and regional manager for the eastern United States. CU Members Mortgage partners with credit unions, leagues and CUSOs to provide a wide variety of the most desired loan products for today’s mortgage market; a Web site with the most advanced mortgage applications available; guaranteed non-solicitation of other financial products; several participation and funding levels, customized to the credit union’s objectives; and personal service from experienced loan officers, underwriters and closers. CU Members Mortgage was recognized with a 2008 CUES Supplier of the Year award for companies with 51 to 100 employees, Nov. 3 during CEO Network in Las Vegas. Founded in 1982 as a division of Colonial Savings, CU Members Mortgage provides comprehensive mortgage services to 900 credit unions, CUSOs and leagues across the United States. The company originates more than $3 billion in FHA, VA and construction loans annually, and is one of the largest servicers of mortgage loans in

From left: Matthew Abbink, vice president, and Steve Browne, vice president, CU Members Mortgage; and Mark Hawkins, CUES Immediate Past Chairman/ Director and CEO, Altura Credit Union, Riverside, Calif.

The emphasis at CU Members Mortgage is on developing long-term relationships with credit unions and members. “When we take the loan, we retain the servicing for the life of the loan,” says Browne. CU Members Mortgage drives a strong service emphasis throughout the organization. For example, it surveys members at loan closings, and presents a monthly award internally to its employees, rewarding staff who give outstanding service. While there are challenges aplenty in the mortgage market today, there are also some solid opportunities. For example, FHA loans are a bright spot today, says Browne. As credit score and down-payment requirements for other loan programs have tightened, FHA loans provide many affordable,

accessible options for borrowers. In 2003, CU Members Mortgage teamed with Prime Alliance Solutions, the credit union industry’s premier provider of leading-edge mortgage technology. It gives credit unions the ability to offer members one of the most flexible mortgage programs available to homebuyers today. Since 1982, CU Members Mortgage has ridden the ups and downs of offering mortgages to credit unions and their members. “There have always been a lot of challenges,” says Browne. “We’re more excited than ever to help credit unions offer a mortgage program to members.” Neil Bartlett is a Mt. Horeb-based free-lance writer.

Helping your members achieve the dream. Solid mortgage options for Credit Unions since 1982. CU Members is one of the strongest, well-capitalized mortgage providers in the country today. We don’t have to rely on outside sources to fund our loans and we can be more flexible with the types of loans offered. We retain servicing on 99% of the loans we make, which means we collect payments, manage escrow accounts, and support long-term relationships with your members. All this makes us a great partner for you — helping you provide superior mortgage options to your members. Contact us today.


Jason Peach Chief Financial Officer West Community CU O’Fallon, Mo. Jason was inducted into CUES Rising 100, a program to recognize the next generation of credit union leaders, on Nov. 3, 2008, during CEO Network. Favorite song on my iPod: I am not sure. I can never get the iPod away from my wife and kids. For breakfast this morning I had… A Nutri-grain bar. But ask me on a Saturday, and it’s a different story. I love breakfast food. Give me thick bacon, hot pancakes, an omelette full of vegetables, topped with hot sauce, and I am in heaven! Best business advice I’ve ever taken: “If you stick your head in a barrel and shout, the only voice you hear is your own.” It emphasizes the importance of collaboration and team work to achieve optimal outcomes and the short-sightedness of some who think that they have all of the answers and do not need input from others. Guilty pleasure: Chocolate. It seems to always appear around the credit union to my demise. People consider me a leader because: I truly care about them and their needs. I like to help and support others so that they can achieve success and satisfaction in their work, and I hold myself accountable to this on a daily basis. The future for credit unions will be bright if … We can get some necessary regulatory changes. We need to increase the limit on member business lending so that we can meet all of our members’ needs. We need risk-based capital requirements so that there is not a penalty to rapid, but safe and sound, growth. What keeps me awake at night: Thinking about all of the people right now that are out of work and struggling to make ends meet. Jason is one of nine executives honored in 2008. Look for more profiles of 2008 honorees in future issues of Credit Union Management.



APRIL 2009

Jim Craig VP/Marketing 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union Yorktown, Va. Jim was inducted into CUES Rising 100, a program to recognize the next generation of credit union leaders, on Nov. 3, 2008, during CEO Network. Favorite song on my iPod: Nightmare (Sinister Strings Mix) – Resident. Two Years of Oakenfold at Cream. For breakfast this morning I had … Organic oatmeal with organic sugar and cinnamon. Best business advice I’ve ever taken: Be friendly with your employees, but don’t be friends. Guilty pleasure: Dinner at PF Chang’s (the closest one is over 50 miles away). People consider me a leader because: My vision for 1st Advantage FCU incorporates everyone’s roles into a meaningful member and colleague experience and I work with other areas to help engage them fully in the transformation process. The future for credit unions will be bright if … Every credit union develops and maintains its own unique value proposition that is compatible with the principles of the credit union movement. What keeps me awake at night: The inability for the industry to re-imagine itself due to public perceptions/expectations, regulations, and limited service options created by a closed (one could even say inbred) vendor pool.

Jim is one of nine executives honored in 2008. Look for more profiles of 2008 honorees in future issues of Credit Union Management.

APRIL 2009



nda Caillouet, CSE i l e B VP/Information Technology Spokane Teachers Credit Union Liberty Lake, Wash. Brenda was inducted into CUES Rising 100, a program that recognizes the next generation of credit union leaders, on Nov. 3, 2008, during CEO Network, Las Vegas. Favorite song on my iPod: With a husband as a musician, there are plenty of song choices at our house but I enjoy audio books on my iPod. It’s not my favorite but what I’m listening to today is about Barack Obama’s life. It is interesting to hear some of the challenges he faced growing up. For breakfast this morning I had … A peach yogurt and a grande, non-fat, sugar-free vanilla latte Best business advice I’ve ever taken: There is opportunity built into every situation. Guilty pleasure: I could say a Belgian praline truffle in dark chocolate, decorated with toffee-coated hazelnut pieces but, truthfully, chips and salsa is my weakness. People consider me a leader because: I’m able to build effective teams by sharing a clear vision, fostering trust and challenging employees to reach their full potential. I believe in setting my team up for success and celebrating them for their accomplishments. It’s not about what I can do but about what we can do together. The future for credit unions will be bright if … We continue to work together to grow our industry, educate our members and share in the expenses. What keeps me awake at night: Usually a sick dog or cat, but lately it has been the economy. Although the credit union is doing very well right now, with the economy in the state it is, things could change very quickly. Brenda is one of nine executives honored in 2008. Look for more profiles of 2008 honorees in future issues of Credit Union Management.



APRIL 2009


loss BY Angie Gallop


hen CEO Cary Anderson started at $94 million/ 18,000-member LA DOTD Federal Credit Union (, with 54 full-time equivalents in Denham Springs, La., seven years ago, he knew Marketing Director Michele Merle Lacour had potential. So, he encouraged her to develop her talents and eventually promoted her to chief growth officer. Lacour took that opportunity to make LA DOTD FCU’s brand synonymous with financial literacy by spearheading four in-school branches, open for about a day a week, where students are trained in every aspect of running their credit union—from the financial stuff right on down to interviewing new prospects and keeping confidentiality. “Michele and I came up with that idea,” remembers Anderson. “It was funny, when we were talking about getting into the financial literacy, I got this wild idea on Thanksgiving that I was going to hire a teacher. So I called her right up during the holiday.” Lacour hired that teacher and spearheaded a program that has received two awards at the state level and, most recently, the National Desjardins Youth Financial Literacy Award. Then, last October, Lacour fell over suddenly at home, was rushed to the hospital and passed away the next day. “We were in shock for about a week,” says Anderson. “You are in denial. You think she is going to walk in the door right now. You just don’t want to believe it.” Lacour was only 40 years old when she died. Good People and Planning Save the Day

While CUs have plans for natural disasters and robberies, what about the sudden loss of an employee? What happens the next day? And how does the organization recover? In her practice Deedee Myers, CEO of CUES Supplier member DDJ Myers, Ltd. (, Phoenix, and co-founder of the Advancing Leadership Institute, says



APRIL 2009

It happens. You go to work one day and a co-worker isn’t there because she died the night before. Here’s how two credit unions handled such a crisis, logistically and emotionally.

she still sees a number of CUs that don’t have plans about what to do if they lose their CEO or a key member of the leadership team. “I’ve worked with boards who assume, just because they’ve hired a 49-year-old, there isn’t an urgent need for a contingency or succession plan,” she notes. What can CUs have in place in case that day comes when the CEO or another executive leader suddenly doesn’t show up to work? For his part, Anderson says he has people groomed to step in if he can no longer come to work, but he hadn’t considered someone as young as Lacour would die so suddenly. Rather than a straight succession plan, he relied on the fact that LA DOTD FCU has very careful hiring practices—it can take them four weeks to hire a teller. “We work to hire the best people. When you do that, even though you are sad, things can keep going on. Everyone in Michele’s department is a high performer, very motivated, and they understood that we had to keep doing what we do.” In fact, other than meeting with Lacour’s staff and looking seriously at the matter behind the scenes, Anderson

didn’t take any direct action for the first number of weeks. “We didn’t want to rush into anything. Instead, we let people get used to the fact she was not around. You don’t want to shake things up. Everybody was shaken up enough as it was.” For CUES member Ron Fields, CCUE, CEO of $910 million/100,000-member Pen Air Federal Credit Union (, with 290 FTEs in Pensacola, Fla., the process was a little different. He was serving as EVP/chief financial officer when a board member walked in one Monday morning last October and told him and the CU’s other EVP that their CEO, John A. Davis, 52, had had a massive heart attack the night before.

“We were all three in shock. I kept thinking we would all wake up and things would be like they were before,” says Fields. Luckily, Davis had done a succession plan that was up to date and approved by the board. The day after Davis’s death, the board had an emergency meeting, brought in Fields and the other EVP to explain that Fields was named as the interim CEO and gave him a copy of the succession plan. “He had it pretty detailed about what to do if he were incapacitated or if he left for another job and we had talked about it internally; he just didn’t tell us that I was the one named as interim CEO,” says Fields. That first day was taken up with urgent concerns, such

APRIL 2009



as notifying business partners, changing the signature on the automatic-signature printer and re-setting passwords. Short Term: Grief Then it was critical for Fields to turn to the grieving process. He immediately held a meeting with all his branch managers and department heads to explain what had happened. “We tried to do business as usual, however it was very difficult because the management team was very close to John. It’s probably not the same as losing a family member but it’s the next thing to it,” says Fields. The board decided to keep the branches open on the day of Davis’s funeral. If he had it to do over again, Fields says he would have pushed harder against that decision. Even with the branches open, about 75 percent of the employees went to the funeral. In the two months following, the credit union had wreaths with pictures of Davis at the entrance to all its branches as a memorial. “A lot of members knew him and although there were some folks who didn’t approve of the wreaths, there were a lot of positive comments,” Fields said. On the day of Lacour’s funeral, LA DOTD FCU did decide to close all its offices, except for those located in a distant community. As well, a number of employees got together in prayer groups. Lacour was also a member of the Baton Rouge family services board so they called after her death to offer counseling. And, Anderson made the counseling information from the employee benefits plan available. “Everybody handled the grief in their own way,” says Anderson. Indeed grief is personal—even when felt by an entire organization. That’s why even when leaders know a loss is coming, “they can never be truly prepared for the emotional responses that will come up,” says Dr. Loretta Dodgen, managing partner of Human Capital Solutions Group and co-founder of Multiple Choice Inc. (, Charlotte, N.C. “I think there has to be recognition that grief cannot be standardized. We understand the stages and impact of grief but it varies from individual to individual.” While we may not be able to control people’s emotional responses, Dodgen says she believes in clearly communicated bereavement policies, a communications plan, an understanding of support mechanisms and an idea about how the CU will deal with its “company family” as well as the employee’s family. This plan can apply not only to a death, but also to a sudden firing or resignation. “Often, we attach grief to a person. But grief is not really about that person. We are grieving the losses in



APRIL 2009

our own lives. The more sudden and catastrophic something is, the more attention you need to give it.” One common theme Dodgen says she hears in response to her recommendations is that a process can just “drag it out” and even leave the door open for people to take advantage of the company. “Those people who would take advantage are a minority and need to be managed,” she says. “But the policies need to be based on the good of the whole.” The most important thing, says Dodgen, is that those in charge demonstrate an understanding of the process and a hope for the future. “People need to see recognition that things won’t be the same, but they also need to know that life in the workplace will be good again.” Mid-Term: Recovery For their part, succession plans enable a swift and sure response, a framework for continuing business during the grieving process. Certainly, as Fields found out, they are invaluable to have for at least the CEO. A succession planning process can be as simple as filling out templates provided in CUES’ Succession Planning Essentials manual. Or, it can be more in-depth with ongoing talent gap reports, strategic plans for company leaders and a hiring process that looks at the long term. When it comes to recovering from sudden loss, both Dodgen and Myers talk about how institutions with ongoing systems for identifying talent gaps and creating an ongoing learning environment recover much more quickly. “You can’t control the crisis,” says Dodgen. “But you can have a framework in place within which to respond.” For his part, Anderson decided not to replace Michele Merle Lacour in the end. “Michele was a special person. It took me years to build a rapport with her. When you have that chemistry, you just can’t go out and say, ‘Let’s interview and replace Michele’—it just doesn’t work that way.” Rather than replacing Lacour, Anderson broke up her department and moved his financial educator into the role of VP/financial literacy. Then he promoted a promising employee to marketing manager and moved this function, along with the corporate outreach person, under the leadership of other executive members. He also put a hold on opening up programs in new schools and on the creation of an adult literacy program. “Maybe in a year or so, we’ll be ready to take another look at it,” he says. In the meantime, Anderson has explicitly told people they can try doing things a little differently. “I don’t want them sitting there thinking, ‘Oh, I can’t do this because Michele would never have done it.’ You have to free them up.”

Myers goes further with this philosophy, saying it is important to put people in the path of crisis to face challenges and learn to become more centered in the midst of chaos. “What I often hear is, ‘Oh, I don’t want Jeff to do that because he doesn’t know how.’ But, it’s important to give Jeff the project while you can be his safety net.” In fact, Myers says the current economic crisis is a great time for anyone in the succession talent pool to be in on the conversation about the corporate CU stabilization program. “Have them develop scenarios, do interviews, write white papers. Have them study it,” she says. When two planning sessions for disaster recovery were announced before the death of his CEO, Fields admits to thinking that his time could be better spent on his more immediate, daily concerns. Now, in retrospect, he says the workshops were a tremendous help for him when he had to assume the CEO role after Davis’s death. “Up front, John was taken out of the picture and we had to function through a [fictional] hurricane without him. We worked through the day-long process as the crisis escalated and it forced us to think about things without John there.” Knowledge Recovery Another Mid-Term Concern Knowledge transfer is another big issue during the sudden loss of a key employee. “Regardless of the position or level in the organization, having all of the knowledge for a task, process or procedure residing in one person is not healthy,” says Dodgen. Her recommendation is for CUs to build a culture of knowledge capture and transfer that starts at the top, where everyone understands that if a task is important, then it is important that it be captured. There are two ways to build such a culture. The first is to create the habit where documentation is a part of the task. The problem here is that ‘doers’ are not generally drawn to writing down what they do. In these cases, says Dodgen, that person needs some assistance. “Often, we have to get someone, who knows how to capture information, to watch and ask questions.” The second method is cross-training. If two people work side by side, they train each other. And managers should look to show the people around them how to do the different tasks involved in their jobs. “Very responsible, dedicated employees often become laser-focused on their own areas. If you don’t have a process that encourages capturing and sharing knowledge, one that recognizes it, rewards it and makes it easy, then it doesn’t happen,” says Dodgen. There are software solutions that make it easy for CUs to capture, organize, audit and provide immediate access to any and all electronic files including policies and procedures, operating manuals, training materials analyses, etc. Scott Cornell, executive vice president of SilverCloud Soft-

RESOURCES Read more articles about disaster recovery at cuman Read more articles about succession planning at succession. Order CUES’ Succession Planning Essentials at successionplanning/.

ware (, New London, N.H., says, depending on the size of the institution and the scope of the knowledge transfer problem, CUs can expect to pay anywhere from $200 per month for software-as-a-service up to a single price of $100,000 to purchase the system and get the service needed to get it up and running. Cornell says credit unions should look for a technology solution that is extremely easy to use and has a day-to-day process. Employees should never feel overwhelmed with the amount of material to be put into the system—not when the system is ramping up and not when it is up and running. “Knowledge transfer is not only important when an employee leaves, but also when that employee is still actively working.” For example, with the information in a central spot, a call center employee can answer a member question immediately, rather than waiting for a manager to be free. “The system can also help identify areas that need attention or improvement. Incomplete policies and procedures, errors, problem areas in operations, and problems that members experience can be quickly identified and corrected,” Cornell says. Long Term: Experience In the end, although sudden loss is sad, working through it can make you stronger. “The point isn’t to ‘get over it.’ The point is, actually, for it to become a part of you. So, when the next one comes, you’ve got that in your backbone,” says Myers. Fields says Davis’s death has meant that his staff will take their planning and disaster scenario exercises more seriously in the future. “We’ve seen first hand how sudden loss can happen to any credit union, regardless of people’s ages,” he says. As for LA DOTD FCU, Anderson will continue hiring people and letting them make decisions so he can trust them to continue on in times of crises. In the meantime, he’s renamed the CU’s financial literacy foundation after Lacour and continues to remember her. “The hurt gets to be a little less but it will always be there. But that is a good thing because nobody dies as long as they are in your heart.” Angie Gallop is a free-lance writer based in Thessalon, Ontario.

APRIL 2009



MORALE Boosters

Here are five ways to motivate your employees on a limited budget.

BY Kerry Liberman


iven the persistent bad news with the economy, I want to continue the discussion from my January 2009 column about the impact of all this bad news on your employees. This time, we’ll focus on maintaining high levels of morale (or raising low employee morale) in light of the budget cuts that you may be facing. While it is understandable that your budget for employee morale initiatives has probably decreased, you can still achieve your goals in this area with a little creativity. Here are just a few ideas that can be done, mostly on the cheap, with great results: 1. Food! One thing I’ve learned over my years of surveying credit union employees is that food is a huge morale booster and motivator with staff. Having a potluck breakfast or lunch is one example. Everyone can participate by bringing something, which doesn’t cost the credit union anything. Also, consider having “popcorn day.” $670 million/49,000member Los Angeles Federal Credit Union with 148 employees (www., provides freshly popped popcorn for staff each Wednesday, which is a real crowd pleaser! 2. Cross-training. Since the economic downturn, we have seen an increased interest with the employees we survey in cross-training opportunities. Employees want to learn more about other positions in the

RESOURCES Read more articles about motivation at Select “Article Archives” and then “Human Resources.”



credit union to foster improved cooperation and enhance opportunities for advancement once they become available. Employees can work for a half day with someone in a different department who explains what they do and how they do it. This only has to take place once or twice a year, but it can enhance teamwork and cooperation levels throughout the CU. 3. Committees. Employees want to help their credit unions succeed. Allowing them to participate in various committees, gives staff a voice in the CU’s direction and can have a tremendous impact on the credit union. Some ideas for committees that can benefit both employees and the organization include an ideas committee, where employees can submit ideas for cost cutting. Those ideas accepted by the committee of their peers go for final approval to the executives. If the idea is deemed a cost-saver for the credit union, the employee who submitted the idea is given an appropriate cash reward. Another committee could plan employee social events. Employees pay to attend the events themselves (perhaps with a discount offered by the sponsoring organization), but the events (e.g., a sporting or other entertainment event) provide a forum for employees to get to know each other better and build a cohesive team throughout the CU. A community-involvement committee can be a way for the credit union to get its name out in the area while supporting the community, too. Committee members can pick charities to work with. The credit union can provide time for employees to serve dinner at a local shelter, help build houses, adopt a family for the holidays, etc. This not only enables employees to feel

APRIL 2009

they are doing something altruistic, but creates a positive public image for the credit union. 4. Communication. Continuous communication during these uncertain times is invaluable for staff members to feel secure. Los Angeles FCU is a big proponent of this concept. The CU’s executives require that all department managers meet routinely with their staff and forward the minutes of those meetings to Human Resources for accountability. Having information come directly from the president/CEO is also effective. Hearing about the credit union’s financial status, strategic plans and initiatives from the leader of the organization can make a significant, positive impact on the staff. 5. Survey. Find out specifically what employees like and dislike about their jobs and the organization. With this information, CUs can make changes to support the needs of the employees as a whole, thereby increasing morale. Oftentimes, these changes can be accomplished with very little monetary assistance. Indeed, being able to retain just one employee can pay for such a project several times over. While most people don’t want to be in this economic downturn, it provides a real opportunity for credit unions to maintain or even enhance their employees’ morale with some creativity and very little cost. High employee morale, in turn, can improve member satisfaction, lower absenteeism, and improve the company’s performance (to name a few). It is a great opportunity to shine! Kerry Liberman is president of People Perspectives LLC (, a consulting firm that conducts employee opinion survey projects with credit unions. She can be reached at kliberman@peopleper or by calling her at 719.488.5640.

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What Does Gen Y Want? By Bryan Ochalla

Here’s how Millennial credit union employees and a director answered this question regarding financial services.


lot of credit union executives—marketers, especially— seem to think they have to invest in things like blogs and Facebook and Twitter in order to attract younger members, but I don’t buy it,” says 30-year-old Carma Parrish, VP/marketing at $47 million/8,135-member Perfect Circle Credit Union ( in Hagerstown, Ind. She’s not alone. Justin Ho, a 21-year-old USC student and a board member at $349 million/50,700-member USC Credit Union ( in Los Angeles, also believes too many credit union leaders have bought into the idea that “bigger is better,” especially as it relates to attracting Gen Y. In his opinion, they’d be better off going “back to the basics.” “I don’t think what we’re looking for [from financial institutions] is all that different from what everyone else is looking for,” Ho says of his generation. “We’re looking for a place where we can keep our money safe and where we can get loans if we need them.” Kim Zahn, a 22-year-old Kent State student and a teller and receptionist at $36 million/6,400-member Kent Credit Union ( in Kent, Ohio, agrees, as does Dan White, a 22-year-old Georgetown University student and the CEO of $10 million/6,400-member Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union (, in Washington, D.C. White, however, says he would add convenience to Ho’s list. “I think that is what we’re looking for [from a financial institution] above and beyond anything else,” he explains. “We want banking to be as easy as possible,” White adds before rattling off a Gen Y “most wanted” list that includes access to plenty of ATMs and branches, ample hours and award-winning customer service. “At least, those are the things I personally look for in a financial institution. I’m pretty sure other people my age are looking for the same things, though.” That’s not to suggest credit union executives are ignoring those aspects of the business, “but I do think many of them are overlooking the basics and focusing too much on other things,” White says, including some of the things mentioned by Parrish: blogs, Facebook and Twitter.



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fiX Your WeB Site firSt One technology credit union executives should focus on if they want to attract Gen Y, at least according to Ho: their Web sites. “I think a lot of people my age view a financial institution’s Web site as more important than any of that institution’s physical branches,” he says, “and right now most credit union’s Web sites just don’t resonate with us.” For example: “Many credit union Web sites don’t even let you log in to your account from the front page,” Ho says. “And many more are a complete mess. They’re cluttered or don’t look professional—or both.” That’s a problem for any credit union trying to attract Gen Y, since “they grew up with the Web and they have a hard time trusting a company whose Web site doesn’t look professional, especially if it involves their money,” Ho says. Only after credit union executives have fortified their “technological foundation”—i.e., their Web sites— should they turn their attention to things like blogs, Facebook, Twitter and even mobile banking. “Mobile banking is a great idea,” Ho explains, “and


it’s an important service to invest in if you want to attract the next generation of consumers. But I think only credit unions that are Web-savvy should be spending their time with it. If they aren’t Web-savvy, I think they should start there and not leapfrog technologies. “Otherwise, it’s kind of like learning how to ride a bike before learning how to walk,” he adds. Credit union executives still working at the latter may want to pick up the pace, as Ho isn’t alone in thinking of mobile banking as an important piece of the Gen Y puzzle. Parrish, for instance, suggests it’s as important as online banking—if not more so—for her generation. “It allows us to access our accounts in the ways we want to access them,” says Parrish, who shares that a small number of Perfect Circle CU’s younger members already use their cell phones to ask, via text, about mortgage and other loan rates. “We don’t want to drive to the branch or even talk to an actual human being if we don’t have to. We just want information, clean and simple, and we don’t want all of the garbage that can go along with other methods of communication.” Zahn shares similar sentiments. Mobile banking, she says, “isn’t all that important to me, but I know it’s important to a lot of people my age. None of us wants to go into a branch, but we all have cell phones and computers and love to use them to do the things we used to have to do by going to a branch.” Word-of-Mouth Marketing All of the talk about online and mobile banking should prove the point that communicating with your credit union’s current and potential members isn’t what it used to be. That’s especially true when it comes to communicating with Gen Y. “Ask a number of credit union marketing directors what they’re doing to reach Gen Y, and most of them probably will answer, ‘Well, we paid $2,000 to subscribe to this Web site that provides them with financial advice,’” Ho says. “And that’s it.” The problem with that tactic, he adds, is that “all of that information is available elsewhere on the Web, and I just don’t see many Gen Yers signing up to become members of a credit union just because it offers a site like that.”

the three faces of gen y According to Justin Ho, a 21-year-old USC student and board member at $349 million/50,700-member USC Credit Union ( in Los Angeles, one of the biggest mistakes credit union executives make when targeting Gen Yers is treating them as a single, homogenous group. “I think credit unions should split them into segments just like they would any other group or demographic,” he says. Here are the three segments Ho sees when he looks at Gen Y: 1) Those looking for a credit union or other financial institution to be their financial consultant. “These people are especially important to credit unions,” Ho says, “because a lot of credit unions pride themselves in being advisors to their members.” 2) Those who rely on their parents for all their banking advice. “Whenever they want to get a credit card or other loan, they go to their parents for advice and information,” Ho says of this segment. 3) Those who are financially savvy and “know exactly what’s going on.” “They don’t rely on their parents,” Ho says of these Gen Yers. “They know all about the banks and credit unions in their area, and they know about their products and services and rates, too. This segment “switches financial institutions often,” he adds, “because they’re always looking for the best rate.” “I think a credit union’s marketing efforts should change depending on which demographic they’re trying to reach,” Ho says. For instance, if you’re going after the second segment—Gen Yers who rely on their parents for financial advice and information—“perhaps you should market to their parents instead of them directly,” he suggests. “The next time you send the parent or parents a statement, include some sort of pamphlet or stuffer that triggers them to talk to their kids about it.” If you’re going after the third segment, the “rate and reward” type of Gen Yer, on the other hand, “your best bet might be to advertise the best rate you can afford,” Ho says. Whatever you do, don’t lump them together anymore. “When you do that, it’s easy to lose sight of what they’re looking for,” he says. “And how can you attract this generation of consumers to your credit union if you don’t know what they’re looking for?”

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Gen Because the children of your current members are the secret to future success. And, cultivating their loyalty is easier than you might think.

whY? With all the talk about the importance of Gen Y, most credit unions understand the need to capture and retain this powerful segment. But the thought of developing a marketing program to attract this seemingly elusive generation can be daunting to say the least. With all the new ways to reach Gen Y, knowing where to start can seem like a shot in the dark. The answer, however, is quite simple. Many of your current members are the parents of Gen Yers, and they provide a clear pathway to the growth you need.

Learn about choosing age-appropriate financial products for Gen Y at If your credit union is like most, you’ve probably already taken the first step toward developing a Gen Y program by encouraging your adult members to open youth savings accounts for their children. But a savings account alone will not provide the level of interaction necessary to cultivate this relationship. You must

leverage the powerful opportunity you have to help parents teach financial responsibility using a variety of financial tools. With the right array of products, you will be on your way to building a base of loyal Gen Y members. The key is continually engaging these young members through a continuum of products designed to meet their changing financial needs, from pre-teens through their teenage years and into adulthood. Focusing on transaction-based products like prepaid, debit and credit cards significantly increases the ongoing interaction between your credit union and young members. It also promotes financial responsibility by encouraging the use of age-appropriate financial products with parental supervision. Consider how this approach creates a win-win situation for young members and your credit union. You have an established base of young members who already have savings accounts with your credit union. By offering a Reloadable Prepaid card for pre-teens, you can help them learn budgeting basics without the potential of overspending. As they enter their mid-teens, transitioning them to a checking account with a debit card helps them learn to manage their finances

and stay within a budget. You can also help them learn to use credit wisely by offering a low-limit credit card while they are still teenagers and under their parents’ watchful eyes. And, as they prepare for life after high school, college planning and student loans continue the interaction opportunities. By leveraging these opportunities and actively promoting migration to products that require more responsibility, you demonstrate your ability to meet their growing financial needs while developing long-term relationships. By the time they graduate

from high school, the young adults that opened their first savings accounts with you could be among your most loyal members. PSCU Financial Services is devoted to helping your credit union capture and grow the Gen Y segment. To learn more about building a Gen Y program and the tools we offer to help you do so, contact us at 800-443-PSCU, EXT. 7877 or visit


Credit unions “need to be much more involved than that in order to reach my generation,” Ho says. “They need to be creative, they need to capitalize on the relationships they’ve built with these members and they need to find out what these members are looking for, especially in terms of products and services, so they can meet their needs.” CUs also need to use the right communication channels—and the right language—according to White. “I just don’t think many people my age are going to open an account at a credit union or bank because they heard a commercial on the radio or saw an advertisement on TV,” he says. “I think most people my age are more likely to listen to someone they trust—like a parent who suggests a certain bank or credit union or a friend who is happy with the products and services of a particular credit union,” he adds. As such, “a refer-a-friend program might be a good way of reaching us.” Zahn agrees. “I think word of mouth is more important and powerful” than traditional marketing methods when it comes to Gen Y, she says. That includes simple efforts, such as setting up information tables around campus on the first few days of school. “We’ve done that,” Zahn says, “but it never seems like we get as many people to sign up as we thought we would. I think it’s because most people aren’t just walking around looking to join a bank or a credit union.” White has seen similar methods fail in his credit union’s neck of the woods. “On the first day of school at various area colleges, Chevy Chase Bank tries to lure students into opening accounts by giving away free ice cream and by using a sales pitch that is extremely elementary,” he says. He isn’t impressed by the tactic—and he’s pretty sure his fellow Gen Yers feel the same way. “I think we’re all turned off by people who treat us like we’re not all that knowledgeable about money or finances,” he says. Adds Parrish: “I see some of the things banks and even other credit unions have put out there to attract Gen Y and I find most of them insulting. “I guess I just don’t see that big of a difference between the generations,” she says. “If you ask me, all you have to do to attract people my age is treat them like they’re adults and give them the facts about the things they’re interested in, like car loans and mortgages. That’s all it takes.” Bryan Ochalla, a former CUES editor, is a free-lance writer based in Seattle.



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what gen y wants from credit unions as employers “I think most of us are looking for an environment that’s enjoyable and flexible and allows us to thrive,” answers Dan White, a 22-year-old Georgetown University student and the CEO of $10 million/6,400-member Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union (www. in Washington, D.C., when asked what he and his fellow Gen Yers are looking for in an employer. “We want to be our own bosses. We don’t want to be order-takers,” adds Carma Parrish, the 30-year-old VP/ marketing at $47 million/8,135-member Perfect Circle Credit Union ( in Hagerstown, Ind. “And we want some freedom.” One way credit unions can offer younger workers some of the latter: telecommuting. Two years ago, Parrish says she went to her boss and said, “‘I need to work from home and here’s why.’ She didn’t bat an eye.” Younger workers also are more apt to ask their supervisors for time away from their desks so they can volunteer, Parrish offers. “We don’t just want to make a difference at work,” she says. “We want to go out into the world and make a difference, too. I think it would benefit employers—including credit unions—to let us do more of that.” Justin Ho, a 21-year-old USC student and board member at $349 million/50,700-member USC Credit Union ( in Los Angeles, suggests credit union executives would do well to keep their ears open for other things that would attract, entice and excite Gen Yers. “There are a lot of very qualified, motivated young people out there who could make a difference in their organization who can’t get jobs and who maybe wouldn’t have looked at credit unions as an employment opportunity in the past but may do so now because of the situation they’re in,” he says.

RESOURCES Read Web-only bonus coverage from this article about social media at Also, download a PDF of this complete special sponsored section at



“The content of CUES conferences is always the most current and up-to-date information— presented by the highest quality speakers with knowledge of trends in our industry. Attending a CUES conference is a win for the credit union and a win for the volunteers and staff!”

Stanley A. Rittenhouse Treasurer/CEO Fairmont Federal Credit Union Fairmont, W.V. Assets: $210 million CUES Member since 1986

A Win-Win Opportunity in Troubled Times In today’s economic climate, how you choose to spend your professional dollars is more important than ever. The Credit Union Executives Society offers a variety of conferences to fit individual needs. Our content is developed months—not years—in advance so topics are timely and highly beneficial, with the industry’s top speakers on deck to bring the message home. Turn to CUES ® conferences to help guide your credit union through troubled times. You’ll find it’s a win for your credit union and a win for you.

Evolution of

an idea BY Charlene Komar Storey


es, the wheel was an amazing and essential invention. But its inventor, whoever that was, isn’t the only one who deserves a tip of the hat. The person who came up with the hub-and-spokes concept, making for a better ride, contributed a great deal to humanity’s progress. So did the individual who thought about rubber filled with air. And what about those who came up with the refinements that we can’t picture living without, like the lug wrench or the tire gauge? In short, experts say, innovation is important whether it’s little or big. Today, when the economic situation is causing changing needs and expectations among customers, innovations of all kinds are more vital than ever. The key is to avoid change for its own sake, and seek a genuine way to meet customers’ needs, done in a way that’s appropriate for each individual credit union. “‘Innovation’ means a lot of things to a lot of people, but it also has taken on a catch-all meaning for ‘new’ or ‘never done before,’ which can overshadow other connotations like ‘improvement’ or ‘a better way to do things,’” says Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Flickr (, the photo-sharing and social-networking site. It’s a belief that a lot of CU executives share. “Innovation for innovation’s sake isn’t innovation,” says CUES member Andy Mattingly, CSE, CCE, SVP/strategy and marketing for $1 billion, 103,000-member FORUM Credit Union ( in Indianapolis. What innovation must do, Mattingly says, is help your credit union keep up its relevance to its members. “The world is changing how people live and work,” he says. “You have to be an important part of their lives.” CUES member Karen M. Hurst, SVP/chief marketing officer for Innovations Federal Credit Union, Panama City, Fla., agrees. “Everything’s different, so we try to look at everything through a different lens.” Adds David Southall, the CU’s president/CEO and a



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Build innovation from a series of good thoughts.

CUES member, “We have to live up to our name and do things a little differently.” go the other way For example, while some other financial institutions were doing all they could to move members on line, Innovations FCU (www. took a different tack. “We did want to bring our members into the credit union rather than push them away,” Southall says. “We wanted to create a new experience for them.” That starts at the entrance of its flagship branch, where staff members greet members at the door. Inside, the credit union removed teller lines about three years ago and went to “dialogue towers,” where tellers conduct transactions side by side with members and use automated cash dispensing. “We enhanced the experience,” says Hurst, “sharing information and having a dialogue with members.” Southall emphasizes that the change wasn’t a result of a sudden whim or based simply on a desire to be different. “We made a decision early on that we wanted to compete on service rather than price,” he says. “We put a lot of money into training. “You can’t just put a dialogue tower in—you have to have everything in place,” Southall says—especially a culture that supports the new approach.

Innovations FCU also takes what some may consider an unusual approach to its staff, from hiring to maintenance. “We hire the smile and train the skills,” says Hurst. The credit union uses pre-employment testing to find candidates with the attributes it values. Then it performs extensive training. It also makes use of incentive programs and quarterly team meetings to keep up enthusiasm. In addition, the credit union promotes from within if at all possible. When new branches are opened, it advertises positions internally first. That means employees who might want to make a switch for commuting convenience or any other reason have first crack at the jobs.

“We want to be the employer of choice,” Hurst says. “We try to do the right thing for the right reasons with our employees. If your internal members—employees— are happy, your external members will be happy.” The credit union’s staff is also a key source for innovation. “We try to listen to our members and to our front-line people,” Hurst says. In addition, Southall says, management tries to spend time at CUES events and industry shows, networking with other credit union executives. The strategy seems to be working: Since 2005, Innovations FCU has enjoyed 25 percent loan growth, 14 percent member growth and 22 percent asset growth.

APRIL 2009



In 2004, it had $86 million in assets; today, it boasts $135 million. Membership has grown from 8,000 to more than 14,000. The credit union currently is opening a new branch and in the process of building a branch to replace a storefront operation. “We see every year as more successful than the last,” says Hurst. “It’s exciting for our team members, and it’s exciting for our members.” origins of innovation That overall commitment to innovation is something FORUM CU’s Mattingly cites as vital. Innovation at a credit union, he says, starts with the board. “The board has to be willing to be involved and engaged and forward looking,” Mattingly stresses. Next comes the CEO. At FORUM CU, Mattingly says, management has the CEO’s support in taking innovative approaches. Executives know that although not all new ideas will be successful, what’s important is what they learn from failure. And they know that when a project is turned down, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t come up with more new concepts—it only means that particular project wasn’t acceptable. Mattingly says innovation can come from looking at what others are doing. “Look at industries similar to yours, and look at industries that are completely different,” he urges. “Look at another industry that’s retail-oriented, and see what they do to put themselves in a good light.” For instance, he says, observe how people are treated when they go to a highly regarded restaurant. “What are the little things they do that make the difference between ‘Wow, that was a great experience’ vs. ‘That was a great meal’”? Mattingly says that even when FORUM CU executives pick up an idea from another credit union, they don’t try to duplicate it precisely. “Avoid a cookie-cutter approach,” he cautions. “Rarely can you take someone else’s idea and have it go gangbusters for you. You have to figure out how to make it work for you.” Mattingly doesn’t dismiss the fact that perspiration goes with inspiration. “If it’s a good idea and we can support it, we’re going to go out there and test it,” he says. He also emphasizes the role that a culture of innovation plays. Because of the culture in place at FORUM CU, he can share ideas back and forth with other executives at the CU. Outside the industry, some of his ideas come from Web sites and its sister site,



APRIL 2009

At Canada’s $1.2 billion (Canadian), 55,000-member Innovation Credit Union (, co-based in Battleford and Swift Current, Saskatchewan, EVP/Marketing Patricia A. Friesen, CME, says it’s important to remember that the credit union has a subtext: “the art of perpetual improvement.” That means, she says, every innovation doesn’t have to be a dramatic one. “It may not be something huge and significant every time—but we’re always trying to move forward to improve products and services. “We have to be changing constantly, because our world is changing and our members are changing,” Friesen says. Like FORUM CU’s Mattingly, Friesen says Innovation CU’s executive team gets many good ideas by talking to other credit unions because they are so willing to share, but that’s only the beginning of the credit union’s process. “The trick is to take that and put the Innovation Credit Union spin on it—to tie it to our branding,” she says. Friesen says she also often looks at what Canada’s five big chartered banks are doing. Beyond the financial services industry, she reads books and articles about other industries. You can learn what works for companies in other fields and then adapt it, she says. For instance, she follows the creative and innovative West Jet airlines. “The whole goal is to make people feel valued—the member experience is so important,” Friesen says. ideas from within That’s the kind of approach Denise Gabel, chief innovation officer of the Filene Research Institute (www., Madison, Wis., encourages. “Innovation is the sole pipeline or connection between the past and the future,” she says. “It can be quite small and incremental, or it can be a total disruption.” To get ideas from within the credit union, Gabel suggests taking yourself to the street. “Actively engage front-line employees—they know so much about the members,” she says. “Once you’re there, invite them to participate in the process. Ask them what members are concerned about, what members want. They may even have solutions.” Talking to tellers and other front-line employees is a good way to break out of an idea rut. “Sometimes we get siloed,” forgetting that a good idea can come from any direction, Gabel says. Butterfield agrees. “Innovation should come from the top and be led by the bottom: The front-line employees who have the closest contact with customers and daily business processes are best-positioned both to come up with innovative approaches to improvements which increase efficiency or create better customer experiences—and to test and iterate on those approaches in real-life situations,” he says.

“Challenge yourself to find one object or issue a day and consider how you can apply it to financial services,” Gabel urges. “You don’t have to be right,” she adds. Demonstrate that you don’t have all the answers, and sincerely invite the work of the many, Gabel says. Something may be the idea of one person, but it is shaped and dramatically improved by many. You should also open yourself up to ideas from different places outside the credit union. Break away from the usual in your reading material, Gabel suggests. “Read something you don’t usually read. Go to the newsstand and, if you usually read The Economist, don’t read it. Buy a teen magazine, or a bass fisherman magazine. “If you can train yourself to always be thinking about the consumer, that’s where real innovation is.” The consumer, Gabel says, isn’t going to specifically ask for a particular product or service, because she doesn’t know that she needs that product or service— she needs something to help meet a need. A good example of this, Gabel says, is the mini-van. Consumers didn’t know they needed mini-vans; they knew they needed to haul around a lot of stuff, and that cars had small trunks and small rear doors that made this

RESouRCES Read bonus coverage from this article at cumanagement. org. Choose “April 2009” from the “Past Issues” pulldown menu. Stewart Butterfield will speak at CUES’ CEO Network, slated for Nov. 1-4 in Orlando. Learn more and register at Read related articles on Choose “Article Archives” then “General Management” and finally “Innovation.”

difficult. It took designers to say, “Hey, I can see what that looks like” to introduce the product consumers wanted. Butterfield makes similar suggestions. If you want to be stimulated to think of new ideas and concepts, you first need to open your mind. “People should be looking everywhere, especially outside the range of the usual suspects for ‘new’ and ‘innovative’—things like consumer electronics and Internet-based services,” he says. Charlene Komar storey is a veteran credit union writer based in New Jersey.

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Best of Show Sunova CU Selkirk, Manitoba, Canada Entry: Coordinated Campaigns

Rookie of the Year

Golden Shoestring

Jason Bauer Boulder Valley CU Boulder, CO Entry: Business Development

Seattle Metropolitan CU Seattle Entry: Public Relations

To see the winning entries and details for each category, please select “CUES Golden Mirror Awards” from the “Quick Links” menu on



APRIL 2009

Additional CUES Golden Mirror Awards winners! ™

Annual Reports

Assets Less than $150 Million First Place: Kelly Community FCU, Tyler, TX Agency: Kent Design Inc. Trophy name: Marketing Team Second Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Agency: Marketing Partners Inc. Award of Merit: Seasons FCU, Middletown, CT Agency: Pita Communications Award of Merit: Taleris CU Inc., Cleveland Assets $150-$350 Million First Place: Mid-Minnesota FCU, Baxter, MN Agency: Range Printing Trophy name: Marketing and Business Development Second Place: Denver Community FCU, Denver Award of Merit: SAC FCU, Bellevue, NE Assets $351-$700 Million Second Place: KEMBA Financial CU, Gahanna, OH Award of Merit: Arkansas FCU, Jacksonville, AR Agency: Nicholson Communications Award of Merit: Dort FCU, Flint, MI Agency: Weaver Design Assets More than $700 Million First Place: Kootenay Savings CU, Trail, BC Agency: Vivify Creative Trophy name: Marketing Team Second Place: University of Iowa Community CU, Iowa City, IA Agency: Benson & Hepker Design Award of Merit: Teachers CU, South Bend, IN Agency: Extra Credit Projects Award of Merit: Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, CA Agency: Agency51

Business Development

Second Place: Tinker FCU, Tinker AFB, OK Agency: Third Degree Advertising Award of Merit: Boulder Valley CU, Boulder, CO Award of Merit: United Nations FCU, Long Island City, NY

Card Design

First Place: Midwest Financial CU, Ann Arbor, MI Agency: Olmstead Associates Trophy name: Marketing Team Second Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Award of Merit: Mid-Atlantic FCU, Germantown, MD Agency: Fidelity National Info Services Award of Merit: Seasons FCU, Middletown, CT Agency: Acacia Innovation

Coordinated Campaigns

Assets Less than $150 Million Second Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Agency: Marketing Partners Inc. Award of Merit: Central CU of Illinois: Bellwood, IL Agency: Eiri Design Award of Merit: Coors CU, Golden, CO Agency: Blonde Ambition Assets $150-$350 Million Second Place: First City CU, Los Angeles Agency: Simon & Associates Advertising Award of Merit: Boulder Valley CU, Boulder, CO Award of Merit: Diamond CU, Pottstown, PA Assets $351-$700 Million First Place: Sunova CU, Selkirk, MB Trophy name: Sunova Marketing Department Second Place: USA FCU, San Diego Agency: Weber Marketing Group Award of Merit: Honda FCU, Torrance, CA Agency: Mint Advertising Award of Merit: Justice FCU, Chantilly, VA Agency: The Art Department Assets More than $700 Million First Place: Envision Financial CU, Langley, BC Agency: Currency Marketing Trophy names: Ashok Gupta, Michelle Bramley, Paul Leppky, Jas Rai, Alex Bitiukov Second Place: Educational Employees CU, Fresno, CA Agency: Redbeard Communications Inc. Award of Merit: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Ayres Award of Merit: Mountain America CU, West Jordan, UT

CUSO Marketing

First Place: Local Government FCU, Raleigh, NC Second Place: CO-OP Financial Services, Rancho Cucamonga, CA Agency: O’Leary and Partners

Digital Marketing

First Place: Mazuma Credit Union, Kansas City, MO Agency: Beyond Marketing LLC Second Place: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Ayres Award of Merit: Arizona State CU, Phoenix Award of Merit: Fairwinds CU, Orlando, FL Agency: Evolve

Direct Marketing/Mail Inserts

First Place: OnPoint Community CU, Portland, OR Agency: Weber Marketing Group Second Place: AMOCO FCU, Texas City, TX Agency: Concepts Unlimited Ad Agency Award of Merit: Central CU of Illinois, Bellwood, IL Agency: Eiri Design Award of Merit: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Ayres

Direct Marketing/Mail Letters

Second Place: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Ayres Award of Merit: Johns Hopkins FCU, Baltimore Agency: Visions Ink

Direct Marketing/Mail Series

Assets Less than $150 Million First Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Second Place: Central CU of Illinois, Bellwood, IL Agency: Eiri Design Assets $351-$700 Million Second Place: USA FCU, San Diego Agency: Weber Marketing Group Award of Merit: AMOCO FCU, Texas City, TX Agency: Concepts Unlimited Ad Agency Assets More than $700 Million First Place: Pacific Service CU, Walnut Creek, CA Agency: Shepherd Design Trophy name: The Marketing Department Second Place: US FCU, Burnsville, MN Agency: Range Printing

Direct Marketing/Mail Single

Assets Less than $150 Million First Place: NationsHeritage FCU, Attleboro, MA Trophy name: Callie J. Huff Second Place: Taleris CU Inc., Cleveland Award of Merit: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Agency: Marketing Partners Inc. Award of Merit: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Agency: Marketing Partners Inc. Assets $150-$350 Million Second Place: Johns Hopkins FCU, Baltimore Agency: Visions Ink Award of Merit: Dominion CU, Richmond, VA Agency: Taylored Printing Award of Merit: Hawaii Community FCU, Kailua Kona, HI Agency: Hafner Creative Communications Assets $351-$700 Million Second Place: Clearview FCU, Moon Township, PA

APRIL 2009



Direct Marketing/Mail Single

Assets More than $700 Million First Place: Los Angeles Firemen’s CU, Los Angeles Agency: Axess Grafx Inc. Trophy name: Marketing Department Second Place: Envision Financial CU, Langley, BC Agency: Currency Marketing Award of Merit: Tinker FCU, Tinker AFB, OK Agency: Third Degree Advertising

Image Enhancement

Assets Less than $150 Million First Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Agency: Marketing Partners Inc. Second Place: Cabrillo CU, San Diego Agency: Epicenter Advertising Award of Merit: Seasons FCU, Middletown, CT Agency: Acacia Innovation

Image Enhancement

Assets $150-$350 Million First Place: Via CU, Marion, IN Agency: Weber Marketing Group Second Place: Copperfin CU, Kenora, ON Agency: Weber Marketing Group Award of Merit: Midwest Financial CU, Ann Arbor, MI Agency: Olmstead Associates

Assets More than $700 Million First Place: GECU, El Paso, TX Agency: The Laster Group Trophy name: Musette Bracher Second Place: OnPoint Community CU, Portland, OR Agency: Weber Marketing Group


Assets Less than $150 Million First Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Award of Merit: Health Associates FCU, Orange, CA Agency: Weber Marketing Group Assets $150-$350 Million First Place: Belvoir FCU, Woodbridge, VA Agency: Third Degree Advertising Second Place: PrimeWay FCU, Houston Agency: Kent Design Inc. Award of Merit: Air Force FCU, San Antonio, TX Assets $351-$700 Million First Place: Sunova CU, Selkirk, MB Trophy name: Sunova Marketing Department Second Place: Watermark CU, Seattle


Membership Kits

APRIL 2009


First Place: University CU, Los Angeles Agency: Aubrey & Associates Inc. Trophy name: UCU Marketing Department Second Place: Sunova CU, Selkirk, MB Award of Merit: Teachers CU, South Bend, IN Agency: Extra Credit Projects

Point of Sale

Assets Less than $350 Million First Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Agency: Marketing Partners Inc. Second Place: Mid-Minnesota FCU, Baxter, MN Agency: Range Printing

Assets $150-$350 Million First Place: Via CU, Marion, IN Agency: Weber Marketing Group Second Place: Tempe Schools CU, Tempe, AZ Award of Merit: FAA First FCU, Hawthorne, CA Agency: Simon & Associates Advertising

Assets More than $351 Million First Place: Mountain America CU, West Jordan, UT Trophy name: Marketing Department

Assets $351-$700 Million First Place: Red Canoe CU, Longview, WA Agency: Weber Marketing Group


Assets More than $700 Million First Place: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Entry: Goaheadlaugh Agency: Ayres Trophy name: Roy MacKinnon Second Place: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Entry: Bill B. Gone Agency: Ayres Award of Merit: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Entry: Word on the Street - Auto Promo Agency: Redbeard Communications Inc.

First Place: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Redbeard Communications Inc. Trophy name: Roy MacKinnon Second Place: Dort FCU, Flint, MI Agency: Olmstead Associates Award of Merit: Michigan State University FCU, East Lansing, MI

Assets $351-$700 Million First Place: Sunova CU, Selkirk, MB Trophy name: Sunova Marketing Department Second Place: DHCU Community CU, Moline, IL Agency: Refinery Design Co.


Assets More than $700 Million Second Place: US FCU, Burnsville, MN Agency: Range Printing Award of Merit: Educational Employees CU, Fresno, CA Agency: Redbeard Communications Inc. Award of Merit: Xceed Financial CU, El Segundo, CA


Assets Less than $150 Million Second Place: Riverset CU, Pittsburgh Agency: Marketing Partners Inc. Assets $150-$350 Million First Place: Bronco FCU, Franklin, VA Agency: Raoust & Partners Second Place: Florida Commerce CU, Tallahassee, FL Assets $351-$700 Million Second Place: Franklin Mint FCU, Broomall, PA Agency: Richardson Design Award of Merit: 1st Advantage FCU, Newport News, VA Agency: Raoust & Partners Award of Merit: Sunova CU, Selkirk, MB Assets More than $700 Million Second Place: University FCU, Austin, TX Agency: Concepts Unlimited Ad Agency Award of Merit: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Redbeard Communications Inc. Award of Merit: State Department FCU, Alexandria, VA

Print Ad-Series

First Place: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Ayres Trophy name: Roy MacKinnon Second Place: iQ CU, Vancouver, WA

Print Ad-Single

First Place: Arizona State CU, Phoenix Second Place: University FCU, Austin, TX Agency: Concepts Unlimited Ad Agency Award of Merit: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Entry: Goaheadlaugh Agency: Ayres Award of Merit: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Entry: Bill B. Gone Agency: Ayres

Public Relations

First Place: Seattle Metropolitan CU, Seattle Second Place: Greater Iowa CU, Ames, IA Award of Merit: Diamond CU, Pottstown, PA Award of Merit: US FCU, Burnsville, MN Agency: Range Printing


Staff Programs

Assets $150-$350 Million First Place: Hawthorne CU, Naperville, IL Agency: Concepts Unlimited Ad Agency Trophy name: Sandy Brillowski


Assets Less than $150 Million Second Place: SECNY FCU, Syracuse, NY

Assets $351-$700 Million First Place: Seattle Metropolitan CU, Seattle Second Place: WESTconsin CU, Menomonie, WI Agency: Hearst Marketing Resources Assets More than $700 Million First Place: Envision Financial CU, Langley, BC Agency: Currency Marketing Trophy names: Ashok Gupta, Michelle Bramley, Paul Leppky, Jas Rai, Alex Bitiukov

Segmented Marketing

Second Place: Kinecta FCU, Manhattan Beach, CA Award of Merit: Pacific Service CU, Walnut Creek, CA Agency: Subcat Marketing Award of Merit: PrimeWay FCU, Houston, TX Agency: Kent Design Inc.

First Place: USA FCU, San Diego Agency: Weber Marketing Group Second Place: Apple FCU, Fairfax, VA

Assets $150-$350 Million Second Place: Premier Members FCU, Boulder, CO Agency: Juice Communications Award of Merit: Public Employees CU, Austin, TX Assets $351-$700 Million Award of Merit: 1st Advantage FCU, Newport News, VA Agency: Hubbard Productions Assets More than $700 Million First Place: Central 1 CU, Vancouver, BC Agency: Wasserman and Partners Advertising Trophy name: Province-Wide Communications Program Second Place: Tinker FCU, Tinker AFB, OK Agency: Third Degree Advertising Award of Merit: Citadel FCU, Thorndale, PA Agency: Ameritech Media Corporation Award of Merit: University FCU, Austin, TX Agency: Concepts Unlimited Ad Agency

RESOURCES View an interactive list of winners at See images of the winner entries and read about the strategy and planning that went into each. Also, check out videos from GMA judging, including more information about the GMA Rookie of the Year, GMA Golden Shoestring and GMA Best of Show awards.

Web Site

First Place: First Entertainment CU, Hollywood, CA Agency: Ayres Trophy name: Roy MacKinnon Second Place: Toronto Electrical Utilities CU, Toronto Agency: Triumvirate Marketing Group Award of Merit: Target CU, Minneapolis Award of Merit: Tinker FCU, Tinker AFB, OK Agency: Third Degree Advertising

Carla Hedrick, CCUE President/CEO Denver Community FCU Denver Assets: $212 million CUES member since 1992

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APRIL 2009



the geography of atms BY Diane Franklin


t has often been said that the three keys to retail success are: location, location, location. Certainly, that three-word mantra is just as important when it comes to effective placement of a credit union’s automated teller machines. But is the work of locating ATMs given the attention it deserves? Not always, say those in the know. They recommend making ATM placement part of an overall strategic branch plan and also to give consideration to how your credit union is going to make sure your members can find them. “Credit unions may have a strategic branching plan, but it often falls short of ATM inclusion,” says Paul Seibert, CMC, VP/financial services for CUES Supplier member EHS Design Inc. (, a Seattle-based design and consulting firm with an extensive list of credit union clients. “People are looking more closely today at the cost of building a branch. If they want to achieve cost efficiency, then they should look at all delivery channels, and that includes ATMs.” Seibert observes that ATMs are a cost-efficient way of ensuring that a credit union is covering a market area sufficiently. “It’s a way to fill in market gaps and to provide your credit union with more target market visibility. It’s also another way to get your name noticed on a regular basis and is especially effective if the ATM has more capability than just dispensing cash. ATMs that take deposits usually have two to three times the transaction volume over those that do not.” When CUs consider purchasing land, they often hold off until they can build a branch. Seibert suggests that they can acquire land early at a lower cost by first considering the possibility of placing a high-visibility drive-up ATM on the site. “You can always build the branch later, but in the meantime, this is a way to give your credit union more visibility and they are great for initial market introduction,” Seibert states. “You can monitor the performance and see if the traffic warrants building



APRIL 2009

Locate automated teller machines based on your overall strategic branching plan.

a branch. If it doesn’t work out, at least you haven’t invested very much and likely the property has significantly appreciated.” To pinpoint the best geographic locations for their ATMs, credit unions should analyze the composition of their membership—specifically where they live, shop, work and socialize. Consider the demographics you would like to target, Seibert advises. For instance, many credit unions wish to target the youth market and this can be facilitated with the aid of a wellplaced ATM network. “You may want to place your ATMs at sports venues or restaurants that young people frequent,” Seibert explains. “It’s not just to get them cash but to put your name in front of them and have the opportunity to tell your story. That’s an inexpensive way to connect with a target demographic group.” Keys to Placement Seibert identifies four keys to ATM placement: (1) the right market (2) high visibility, (3) ease of access, and (4) a sense of security. “The ATM should be very visible from the street and offer easy-in, easy-out convenience,” he says. “If it’s a drive-up, it should offer adequate stacking for cars. If

it’s a walk-up, there should be sufficient room so those in line don’t have to stand too close to the person using the machine, and there should be no place to hide.” Affirming the importance of highly visible, easily accessible locations is Caytie Bowser, ATM channel manager for $3.5 billion ESL Federal Credit Union (, based in Rochester, N.Y. The credit union has more than 40 ATM locations in the Rochester area, including those in its 18 branch offices. “We have a large drive-up ATM branch network, and we put them in highly visible areas, such as street corners with traffic lights,” Bowser reports. “Some are in parking lots (sometimes these are free; other times they have a

lease), some are in properties that we lease. The structures are made to look like mini-branches, so we take advantage of the visibility from a branding point of view.” ESL FCU also gives high priority to the security of its ATM locations. “We have an internal security department that checks on the ATMs every month to ensure that the lighting is working, cameras are functioning, fingerprints are wiped off the screen and the snow is plowed during the winter,” Bowser says. ESL FCU places its stand-alone ATMs at locations that complement the branch office locations, thus providing a more uniform presence through the community it serves. “We’re constantly looking at gaps that we

APRIL 2009



need to fill in,” Bowser says, explaining that the credit union’s branching strategy calls for ATMs to be placed so Rochester area residents can reach one within five minutes from wherever they work, live or congregate. Specific placement of ATMs is determined through analysis of demographic data. “We use modeling techniques based on many different factors, such as where our members live, where they work, where they conduct transactions,” Bowser reports. “From that, we can determine whether it would be more appropriate to service a particular area with an ATM or a branch.” ESL FCU turns to NYCE (, Seaucus, N.J., for assistance with its statistical modeling and uses a commercial real estate agent to help identify viable properties. In addition, ESL FCU has a few ATMs in Kodak facilities because of its strong history with the company. The credit union also belongs to the Presto! network, which gives ESL FCU members access to surcharge-free ATMs in nearly 1,000 Publix Super Markets in five Southeastern states, where some members spend winters or vacation. Consider Capabilities Taking into account the capabilities an ATM in a specific geographic location should have is key to an ATM installation. In today’s world, ATMs can range from simple cash-dispensing machines to deposit-taking units to full-service kiosks that allow members to perform a complete range of shared-branch banking activities. “ATMs have come a long way,” says Kathy SniderHerziger, VP/product development for CO-OP Financial Services (, a CUES Supplier member based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. “The whole model of self service is a key to the future. Members want convenience and access, and we view ATMs as a critical channel for extending member service and account access.” CO-OP is on the leading edge of providing full-service models, advancing the concept with its CO-OP Fast Branch, a self-service kiosk that allows shared branching members to conduct a broad range of transactions, including withdrawals, deposits, loan payments, account transfers and more. “Consumers are becoming so much more kiosk-savvy—look at what’s happening at airports,” Snider-Herziger observes. Approximately 3,000 credit unions are part of the CO-OP ATM Network, which consists of more than 28,000 surcharge-free ATMs nationwide. Of those units, approximately 9,000 accept deposits using image-enabled software. Many of these are in highly visible retail



APRIL 2009

locations such as 7Eleven stores. “We have an arrangement with 7Eleven for deposit-taking ATM kiosks in about 2,500 locations,” Snider-Herziger says. While functionality is key, she reports it is still the location that determines the transaction volume an ATM will produce. Her contention is that the primary drivers for determining ATM placement should be member convenience and efficiency. “For instance, it’s much more economical to place an ATM at a factory where your members work than to invest in a new branch,” she says. CO-OP also offers its clients consulting and project management services that will help them determine ATM placement based on such factors as who their members are; where their members work, live and shop; where their competitors are located; and where growth in the community is occurring. In addition, CO-OP can help determine which specific type of ATM to place in a location based on such factors as demographics (i.e., younger, more tech-savvy consumers would be more receptive to a full-service kiosk), traffic patterns in the area, site access and security. Getting the Word Out There are various ways to get the word out about ATM locations, and many of them use the latest technology. “Of course, you should list your ATM locations on your Web site,” Seibert says. “Every location is a potential point of sale, and you want to tell people where they are. “ATMs are an expression of each credit union’s brand. They must present a consistent brand image and offer a convergent brand service experience with branches, online banking and the phone center. By doing this ATMs become more than just a service for members and nonmembers; they become a recognizable extension of the brand experience,” states Seibert. One technologically savvy way to help members find a branch is by using a tool like BranchMap (www., an interactive mapping and locator tool credit unions can embed in their Web sites. Members go to their credit union’s Web site, put in a Zip code and a street address. Within seconds, BranchMap shows them the closest surcharge-free ATM locations from all their CU’s networks nationwide. Using licensed satellite photo technology, BranchMap lets members zoom in for a closer look or move with ease in any direction. Once they’ve zeroed in on the location they want, BranchMap provides street addresses, phone numbers, distances, directions and even key information about the location, such as branch hours, drive-up hours and special products and services offered. Because members may want this information while they’re driving, there is a mobile Web version of this product, BranchMap Mobile.

“The information is provided within about one-anda-half seconds,” says Jason Green, CEO of Code Green ( and creator of BranchMap. “If a member is traveling and needs cash, they can find all the nearby surcharge-free locations wherever they are very quickly,” he says. While the data for BranchMap resides on a remote server, members don’t ever have to leave their CU’s Web site. “The goal is to bring all that data inside the credit union’s site, have members look at the map and find the credit union’s convenient locations,” Green explains. Code Green offers BranchMap to CUs for $2,500 a year, including detailed tracking reports and ongoing updates to the locations database. When CUs change their own ATMs’ locations, they e-mail this information to BranchMap for updating within 24 hours. Green characterizes BranchMap as a marketing tool that provides added convenience to the member. “The No. 1 reason a member chooses a financial institution is convenience. BranchMap drives home the message of convenience to members and potential members. Another advantage is retention. If a member moves away from an area, they may stay on as a member once they realize that they have access to surcharge-free locations no matter where they move.” While BranchMap has great appeal to credit union members, Green reports that it’s also a benefit for the credit union’s member service representatives. “We’ve found that the MSRs appreciate it as much as the members do,” Green says. “They get a call from a member and can quickly tell them not only where the nearby ATMs are but exactly how to get there.” Member Access Pacific, a card processing and ATM service technologies CUSO, is in the process of adding BranchMap and BranchMap Mobile as a service to its 40-plus credit union clients. BranchMap will be available on MAP’s Web site ( as well as those of participating CUs. “We see this as a value-added service for credit unions to share with their members and give them the ability to locate surcharge-free ATMs,” says Cyndie Martini, president/CEO of this Tukwila, Wash.-based service organization. Martini sees BranchMap as a tool that will aid credit unions in making the best decisions regarding geographic locations. “We are neutral when it comes to an institution’s choice of ATM networks,” she says. “However, BranchMap will allow them to create scenarios and do overlays that will enable them to make a choice that is the best fit for their organization and membership.” The BranchMAP ATM locator lets MAP clients select multiple networks at one time and receive a screen shot overlay of ATM coverage by network in an area of choice. The goal is to reduce the time required to identify the best surchargefree ATM solution for the institution and membership.

RESOURCES Read bonus coverage from this article at cumanagement. org. Choose “April 2009” from the “Past Issues” pulldown menu. Read about the launch of CommunityAmerica CU’s GPS-based ATM locator at launch gpsbasedatmlocator. If you need your members-only password, please e-mail Read more on ATMs on Choose “Article Archives” then “Operations” and then “ATMs.” Read related articles on Choose “Articles by Topic” then “ATM/Kiosks.”

CO-OP Financial Services, meanwhile, gives CU members three ways to find the nearest ATM location complete with driving directions: (1) by typing a Zip code or address into the CO-OP or CU Web site, (2) by downloading the locations into a GPS device or (3) by typing “MYCOOP” into their mobile phone and receiving a text message. “So many phones have mapping functions now that this is a very convenient way for members to locate an ATM while they’re driving,” Snider-Herziger explains. Though the service was weeks old at this writing, CO-OP had already received and fulfilled more than 30,000 text message requests. Credit unions can promote the availability of the texting service with customizable marketing materials from CO-OP. GPS devices also provide great convenience for members who are already in the car when looking for an ATM. CommunityAmerica Credit Union (, located in the Kansas City metro area, is maximizing the use of GPS technology for the convenience of members looking for one of the credit union’s 28 ATMs or any of the 28,000-plus ATMs in the CO-OP network. CO-OP’s ATM location database makes this possible. “We can download that data into a GPS device for the member, and then they can have it when driving around in their car,” says CUES member Guy Russo, CSE, the CU’s chief information officer. “Members have the ability to download the ATM information electronically and then push the file into the GPS unit, or they can show up at one of our branches to update their GPS. We give them a chip, and the download takes less than a minute.” In addition to CO-OP, CommunityAmerica CU has partnered with Garmin GPS to bring this service to its members. Russo sees this service being used primarily by young, tech-savvy members and, believe it or not, older members—specifically those who are retired and heading out on the open road in their RVs. “This will give them the ability to locate a surcharge-free ATM, no matter where they are,” Russo says. Diane Franklin is a free-lance writer based in Florissant, Mo.

APRIL 2009



rising from ashes Like a phoenix flies out of the flames, members in financial trouble are getting help from CUs and finding a way out.

BY karen bankston


o talk with credit union mortgage lenders across the country is to hear tale after tale of woe. Members bowled over by the one-two punch of layoffs and evaporating equity. Scam artists masquerading as debt counselors. Borrowers walking away from a big mortgage to buy a vastly devalued house down the street. Opportunistic real estate investors trying to pull off even shorter sales (in which the balance on the loan exceeds the home’s value) by talking homeowners out of what value their property still holds. Shining through those stories are instances of people doing the right thing. As CUs work with members to save their homes and protect their credit, they demonstrate the slow but steady impact of chipping away at the mortgage crisis and stabilizing neighborhoods one house at a time. Gains from loss

When they are forced to foreclose, some CUs are looking for opportunities to offer a fresh start. For example, Dort Federal Credit Union gave two families a “Home for the Holidays” in December. The board of the $380 million, Flint, Mich., credit union ( authorized a budget to renovate two foreclosed homes and promote the giveaway. Applicants were required to write a personal essay, meet income and creditworthiness guidelines and reside within the CU’s field of membership. “Our goal was to identify families who needed housing and could afford to maintain and sustain these homes as homes,” explains Jenny Ludwigsen,



APRIL 2009

Dort FCU’s director of marketing. “The homes are without a mortgage, but they will have the responsibility to pay insurance and taxes,” including income taxes on the gifted property. The Home for the Holidays project turned into a community event. Dort FCU enlisted the assistance of representatives from local social service organizations in the selection process and in providing food, housing and other support services to many of the applicants. And local media tripled Dort FCU’s promotion budget with additional airtime, billboards and newspaper ads. Of 100 initial applicants, the 32 who met the qualifications had a personal interview with the selection committee. The new homeowners, chosen from eight finalists, signed a five-year contract to ensure that they wouldn’t turn around and sell the property. It specifies that if the home is sold this year, 100 percent of the proceeds would go to the CU, 75 percent in 2010, and so on, with full ownership to be turned over in 2013. “We had to put a lot of thought into this and consulted with attorneys and CPAs to make sure we were doing the right thing by the credit union and the new homeowners,” Ludwigsen says. $6.9 billion, 693,000-member The Golden 1 Credit Union (www., Sacramento, Calif., took a similar approach with a

single-family home on a one-acre plot, turning the property over to Habitat for Humanity with the provision that the nonprofit group build multiple homes there for low-income families. “We had been working with the borrower, but he decided it was not in his best interest to continue and walked away,” says CEO Teresa Halleck, a CUES member. “There had been some changes to the property that were not up to code, and it was in need of serious renovations. Instead of selling it, probably to an investor interested in just buying and flipping it, we thought this would provide greater value to the community.” The Golden 1 CU’s gift brought Sacramento’s new mayor out to the site and local media coverage as 100 California Highway Patrol cadets turned out to help build the new homes. That story brought a “positive spin” in a region that has been hard

hit by the downward mortgage spiral, says Halleck, who received a personal letter from a member expressing pride in the CU’s contribution to Habitat. Focus on the basics Other approaches to the mortgage morass may not make headlines, but they are helping members ride out the economic downturn. At Ent in Colorado Springs, the focus is on the basics in the form of proactive, responsive and supportive outreach to mortgage holders, says SVP/Chief Lending Officer Bill Vogeney, a CUES member. The $2.5 billion credit union with 192,000 members ( monitors credit scores to reach out to hard-hit borrowers with reduced rates and payments. It aims to respond quickly on necessary deals—within 24 to 48 hours in comparison to the 60 or 90 days reported for some snowed-under mortgage lenders. Even if members are forced to sell short, getting back less than they owe, they and the CU will likely fare better than in a foreclosure, he notes. For one borrower who accepted a short-sale offer, Ent worked out a no-interest loan for the $30,000 remaining on the mortgage, which means the credit union will be repaid and the member’s credit rating won’t tank. “You can’t go in with any preconceived notions,” Vogeney advises. “You need to review how they were when you made the loan and what’s their situation now. What’s the real value of the home? Will their situation likely get worse or better in the near term? You have to try to answer those questions and respond promptly.” Ent also tries to help members steer clear of profiteers. He cites an example of an investor pushing for a short sale claiming $50,000 in structural damage to the home. “We investigated and found that the damage was more cosmetic than anything, maybe $1,500 worth of work,” he notes. The credit union recommends that members who are having a hard time

selling their homes talk to the same Realtors Ent uses for its foreclosed properties. Those experienced real estate professionals “know what needs to be done” to move a house even in a slow market. “We don’t force members to sell the home as-is and get what they can,” Vogeney says. “If we

can make some reasonable investment to help the home show well, we can get a better price.” A Realtor working with one member who was out of work because of health problems recommended a $10,000 facelift for a house that had been sitting on the market for

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months. “It was a nice house, but the wallpaper was outdated and it needed fresh paint,” he recalls. “We were willing to advance the money to get the work done, but then the Realtor found a buyer who loved the location and could see past the need for cosmetic work. There’s an old saying that there’s a lid for every pot.” Personal approach The good that can come of bad debt also is evident in the many examples of CUs working patiently with members struggling to make mortgage payments. CUES member Richard T. Webb, president/CEO of $70 million, 11,500-member Atlantic Financial Federal Credit Union (www.affcu. org), Hunt Valley, Md., shares the story of a member who was consistently a month or two behind on her condo payments. Over several months, the CU counseled and coached to keep her from falling further behind. Once, Webb even drove to her condo to pick up a check to keep the member from falling officially 60 days past due. About the same time, Atlantic Financial FCU got a notice from a law firm that it was proceeding with foreclosure against the member to collect back taxes, so the credit union paid the tax bill and expanded her mortgage. Then came another court notice seeking payment on condo fees and another advance from the credit union. By this time, the principal on the member’s mortgage had increased by $10,000 to $144,000. “She had paid five years on a 30-year mortgage at 8 percent, so we worked with her to drop her mortgage rate to 5.5 percent and extend the term back out to 30 years,” Webb says. “And we created an escrow account with payroll deduction to cover taxes and condo fees, which was doable because of her lower payments.” In presentations to school, church and community groups, Webb talks about the personal approach CUs take with members. “When they first



APRIL 2009

came out with TARP, that’s what the federal government said they were going to do with all mortgage holders, but there’s no way they’ve got the time and resources to do that,” he notes. “It’s just too expensive” on such a large scale. This one-on-one approach can succeed, but it is time consuming and at times disheartening. “The last thing we want is to take a property back,” Halleck says. “What’s unfortunate is that sometimes they won’t even return your calls. You can’t work with someone if they won’t talk to you.” For members suffering temporary setbacks, The Golden 1 CU might offer the option to skip a payment or extend the loan term to reduce monthly payments. “When people have lost their job, we can wait awhile if they have prospects, but some, unfortunately, have no job prospects,” she says. Innovation from desperation To deal with the harsh realities of the current mortgage market, The Golden 1 CU developed two new options in early 2008. The Mortgage Repair Loan is designed for new or existing members who lost their home to foreclosure with another lender over a mortgage with, if not predatory, at least consumer-unfriendly terms. The credit union will not disqualify borrowers for that lone foreclosure if they can come up with a down payment for a new home and otherwise meet income and credit guidelines. The Golden 1 CU has yet to close a loan under this program. “We’ve had people call the credit union, but most of them were still in their homes and weighing their options to walk away,” Halleck says. “So far, we have no takers who have the ability to carry the debt and with a strong enough credit rating before the foreclosure. Some may just be waiting out the market. There’s a sense that housing values have not hit bottom yet.” The Golden 1 CU’s other offering is the Mortgage Rescue, designed

RESOURCES Read bonus coverage from this article at Choose “April 2009” from the “Past Issues” pull-down menu. Read more about how CUs prefer to avoid foreclosure in “Keep the Lights on” on p. 42 of our March 2009 issue and on line at cumanagement. org. And read “Responsible Debt Relief.” To read both, choose “March 2009” from the “Past Issues” pulldown menu. And read about how to promote thrift to members in “CUs’ Next Trick.” Find it at Choose “February 2009” from the “Past Issues” pull-down menu.

for homeowners who are behind on their payments with another lender but haven’t yet been foreclosed. For those borrowers, the credit union offers to negotiate with their existing lenders to refinance for an amount less than the total owed to take the loan off their books. For example, if the homeowner owes $400,000 on a home currently valued at $300,000, The Golden 1 CU might agree to a mortgage at the lesser amount, which would keep the borrower in the house and allow the current lender to get a loan in default off its books while saving the costs of a foreclosure sale. Again, the CU has yet to close on a Mortgage Rescue loan, but that might just be because other lenders “may be overwhelmed by the number of people who are defaulting right now,” Halleck says. “But we are trying to be out there in the market with these types of solutions. Consumers are caught in the middle, watching interest rates and the market, and we’re trying to be there to help. It’s a very interesting dynamic.”

Karen Bankston is a free-lance writer and editor and the proprietor of Precision Prose in Stoughton, Wis. She writes about credit unions, business and technology.

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APRIL 2009






regular sight at baseball games is of fans keeping track of the action with a scorecard, where the individual at-bats of the players are recorded. This is an easy way for fans to stay involved in the action. The scorecard “tells the story” of the game. An increasingly common practice in the credit union world is to use another kind of scorecard, most often called a “balanced scorecard,” that monitors how well an organization is working toward achieving its stated goals. The concept of the balanced scorecard originated at the Harvard Business School in the early 1990s, according to John Redding of the Institute for Strategic Learning ( As Redding, ISL’s executive director, explained in a 2005 ISL newsletter, “Underlying the balanced scorecard is a simple yet powerful idea—financial measures alone are inadequate drivers of long-term business success.” Under the original balanced scorecard concept, Redding wrote, an organization would monitor how well it was meeting its strategic goals in four generalized areas: financial measures, customer measures, internal operations measures and learning measures. Under each of those areas, an organization would then decide what kind of information it wanted to gather, such as ROA and net worth in the financial area and employee turnover and employee-to-member ratios under internal operations. In his newsletter, Redding continued that the scorecard concept changed over time because “The difficulty is that when you put an emphasis on the ‘four buckets,’ you simplify what it really takes to ‘measure the strategy.’ It’s fairly easy just to brainstorm different types of measures in each category and pick those that seem to be most important to the organization. It’s much more difficult to create the type of direct and integrated linkage of a measurement system to an organization’s strategic planning process that is needed to truly ‘measure the strategy.’”



APRIL 2009

Balanced scorecards help boards stay in the game

Getting Started According to John Gregoire, founder of The ProCon Group LLC, a credit union consulting firm ( in Madison, Wis., a typical time for a credit union to ponder whether the scorecard system is appropriate for the organization is when “the board has gained a firmer recognition of the delegation process, or delegating the authority to the CEO. It’s the time when the board is trying to transition out of what I call ‘co-managing’ and moving to governing the organization.” A board must ask itself what it sees as the primary goals of the credit union before beginning work on the scorecard, says Bill Goedken, president/CEO of Goedken Consulting Group ( in Sedalia, Colo. “I ask them, ‘What type of credit union do you really want to be?’ Then, [the board] will list the top three drivers of their value. In other words, “Why would they go to that credit union vs. other credit unions or banks?’ Is it location? Is it perhaps their different programs on their assets and liabilities such as tailoring business loans and the like? What drives the value of that credit union? Why would anyone want to go there instead of ‘Brand X’? From there, you tailor the scorecard accordingly.” “To begin creating a scorecard,” suggests Redding, decide “where we are heading as an organization.

What is strategic success?” Once those questions have been answered, Redding says, the board must determine the best way to measure success. Writing in his 2005 newsletter, he advocated a three-step approach to make sure that a credit union will accurately “measure the strategy.” First, wrote Redding, a credit union’s “strategic plan must be clear and specific enough to tell you which measures are important.” Second, “developing the strategic scorecard is just one phase of strategic planning. Don’t treat it as a separate process.” Lastly, Redding explained that “the board needs to be fully involved in the whole process, even setting strategic scorecard targets.”

No matter what strategic goals are set by an individual credit union, experts say there are a number of benefits to using a scorecard. “The scorecard we use gives a board a couple of benefits,” declares Gregoire. “One is that these people are busy; they aren’t industry professionals. They should be able to get a handle on the performance of the organization in a concise document. It also gives the board comfort because the board has a fiduciary obligation. And as the organization gets more complex, board members come to understand that they can’t possibly become expert in all the areas that are necessary to keep the credit union going.”

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Goedken says another bonus is that credit unions using the scorecard system “tend to be higher performing. That doesn’t necessarily mean higher profits. It means their growth could be higher than their peers. Their capital position could be a little stronger. Their member satisfaction could be a little stronger.”

Strategic Table Talk While scorecards have been an increasingly popular means of monitoring a credit union’s strategic goals/ success, other methods are being used to engage boards in plotting an organization’s course. CUES Director member John Dierdorf, CCD, chairman of $1.1 billion/103,000-member FORUM Credit Union ( in Indianapolis, says his board is now focusing on a single strategic topic at every meeting. “It’s been kind of an evolution from 20 years ago, when we didn’t have any strategic planning sessions at all,” Dierdorf recalls. “The times now demand that you spend a body of time on an annual basis doing strategic planning, not only for the board, but senior staff.” Dierdorf says he and CEO Gary Irvin, CCUE, CCE, a CUES member, decided board meeting agendas should be modified to allow time for strategic planning. “There are a certain number of things you have to do at a board meeting, but there’s a number of things we moved to a consent agenda in order to consolidate some time.” (For more on consent agendas, see “Looking Forward” in the August 2008 issue of Credit Union Management magazine.) Once adjustments were made, Dierdorf says the board was able to spend about 45 minutes of a roughly two-hour monthly meeting focusing on strategic topics, or what he refers to as “table topics.” Dierdorf says that attendance at meetings has increased since the board has increased its focus on strategic planning.. Another dividend is that board members and senior staff are both thinking about a specific topic in advance of the board meeting. Also, Dierdorf says, “The board has become pretty astute in their thinking. They have learned how to think creatively in different scenarios. “I want the people on our board to be energized and engaged while they are there. I want them to walk away from the meeting, saying, “Wow! I’m glad I didn’t miss that meeting,’” he says.



APRIL 2009

Another positive is that board members usually communicate better with the credit union’s executive staff. “In some ways, we think that might be the most powerful benefit (of the scorecard system), notes Redding. “It causes greater clarity of strategic direction than you would get otherwise. It also clarifies the appropriate roles of the board and the senior management team.” Gregoire maintains that the more a board is involved in creating and monitoring a scorecard system, the less chance there is for board members to micromanage the credit union’s affairs. “Sometimes, micromanaging comes out of curiosity because they don’t really know. In this case, knowledge frees them to govern rather than co-manage the organization.” Scorecards: A tale of two CUs CUES member Dale Johnson, CEO of $135 million/ 15,000-member TruStar Credit Union (www.trustar in International Falls, Minn., explains that his credit union created its current scorecard about two years ago because board members were suffering from an information overload. The TruStar CU Board, recalls Johnson, was being bombarded each month with “a whole bunch of financial reports. Not many [of the directors] have a very strong financial background. They’d look at these reports with 20 or so different ratios. It didn’t make a lot of sense to them in a 90-minute board meeting to get a solid snapshot of what was going on at the credit union.” TruStar CU’s scorecard was broken into four segments: financial, non-financial, member service and project management, according to Johnson. “[The board] believed those would give them a good feel as to what was going on at the credit union. It would allow them to ask questions like, ‘If the ROA is floundering? What is causing that?’” Johnson says he would then supply the supporting documentation for his board to examine, rather than having them waste meeting time wading through a flood of statistics. He explains that the financial segment of TruStar CU’s scorecard was broken into three general areas: earnings, average total relationship (which Johnson describes as “the amount of deposits and loans divided by the number of members”) and growth of earning assets. The financial scorecard created what Johnson says was a “target environment,” where the board would award bonuses to management based upon how well the credit union met financial goals. The scorecard system has “worked really well because board meetings can now be focused on the areas that aren’t moving in the direction we want them to,” Johnson adds. “This has really helped us drive growth and profitability. It’s been a good thing.”

Improvements in TruStar CU’s financial performance were seen within a year of implementing the new scorecard system, says Johnson, who has been TruStar CU’s CEO since 1997. He believes a major reason the improvements came so quickly was that the scorecard goals were shared with the CU’s staff. “The only way you are going to get there is to make sure that the folks driving the bus know the directions,” he quips. Migrating Success Another credit union enjoying success with a scorecard system is Idaho State University Federal Credit Union ( in Pocatello, Idaho. CEO/President Robert V. Taylor, a CUES member, says his credit union began using a scorecard in 2008. Taylor brought the scorecard concept to $90 million/13,000-member Idaho State University FCU from his previous credit union, Greater Nevada Credit Union in Carson City, Nev., where Taylor was senior vice president of that CU’s mortgage CUSO. Taylor explains that his goal “was to change the way the board was doing their strategic planning. I wanted them as participants in creating the actual scorecard. I wanted to get the board to decide what levers we should pull to get the credit union moving in the direction we wanted it to go.” Idaho State FCU’s board, according to Taylor “had four (primary) goals: growth, financial performance, member satisfaction and retaining/attracting quality employees. Under those goals, we asked ‘What things can we measure to show us that we are achieving these goals?’ That’s where we go to the board of directors to say, ‘We’ve got a number of items to use as benchmarks to achieve each goal.’” Once the board decided on the four principal areas it wanted to monitor, directors then had to decide the best method to measure success, recalls Taylor. “Under the goal of achieving strong and balanced growth, the board would ask, ‘What kind of growth do we want to measure? Do we want to measure asset growth, share growth or loan growth? If we measure share growth, we can grow the credit union by bringing in shares. But it’s tempered by Goal No. 2 on the healthy financial performance, which would be to measure our net worth. So, as we grow, we grow in a balanced and healthy manner so our net worth continues at the same pace as our share growth. The way to do that is to get revenue coming in, loans and interest income. So, back under the balanced growth, we would say, ‘Not only do we want to grow shares by a certain percentage over the next three years, but we want to grow loans so that as the money is coming in we’re lending out to our members. And that gives us the appropriate income and balance in our growth.”

RESOURCES CU Planner™ : A Strategic Planning Process helps credit unions stay focused. Log on to, then look for CU Planner under the pull-down menu. Learn about the pinnacle in director education: Directors Leadership Institute. Log on to ; select Executive Education, then DLI T™ : Governance or DLI: Strategic Planning from the pull-down menu.

As Taylor notes, once a credit union has decided what areas to monitor under its scorecard, it must keep in mind the possible consequences of factors that are not being watched as closely. “You may be measuring one thing on your scorecard, but you must think, ‘What does that affect?’ And you have to go through the process of saying, ‘What are the unintended consequences of measuring this one thing and not something else?’” Creating the scorecard at Idaho State FCU has given board members the opportunity to be involved with the growing of the credit union without micromanaging the executives and staff, says Taylor. “In the past, the board went through the process of strategic planning and it was then put back on management to come up with some financial goals. Then, management would inform the board (of the results.) The difference now is that the board has ‘some skin’ in the game in coming up with the balanced scorecard. The senior management and the board are working hand in hand to come up with this. So, they’re excited when they see the plans that they’ve made put into action and making our goals.” According to Taylor, the scorecard system at his credit union has already helped the bottom line. “We had a fantastic year (in 2008). In prior years, we had seen zero or minimal growth. We immediately went to 15 to 16 percent share growth from prior years. We got the ship moving in the right direction. One group the CU targeted for membership growth was university students. In a direct approach, Taylor led a group of his executives in a membership drive on campus. “I didn’t just want to have a table display. I personally approached students in the student union building, asking them about joining the credit union. I wanted my employees to see how I would talk to prospective members,” he explains. Because of efforts like the campus drive, Taylor says that membership was up four percent in 2008. As for the board’s reaction to the scorecard, Taylor is ecstatic. “It’s been fantastic. They’ve loved the process,” he says.

Dave Windsheimer is a free-lance writer based in Upstate New York.

APRIL 2009



juggling act Hiring a new CEO includes an endless list of considerations. An executive search firm can help you keep the balls in the air.

BY Steve Swanston


he current economy has created a greater demand for change or turnaround agents who can quickly adjust the direction of an institution. The truth is, most of the time the best candidates for open positions are not actively looking for a job, but are interested in opportunities to increase their skills or move to a position that gives them a chance to grow and gain more responsibility. By hiring an executive search firm to help with this all-important hiring process, you get the benefit of working with someone who has ongoing contact with highly qualified executives through a network and database of industry contacts. Make sure the firm you select knows the financial industry inside and out to provide direct access to the top candidates in the country. A thorough executive search is intensive and requires an adequate time commitment to ensure all bases are covered in each phase of the process. However, most financial institutions do not have a proven process for

RESOURCES CUES has partnered with John M. Floyd & Associates Executive Search Group to provide talent recruitment at an affordable cost. To learn more log on to Order Succession Planning Essentials at Read more articles at cumanage Choose “Article Archives,” then “Credit Union Boards,” then “Succession Planning.”



hiring management personnel and often make one up as they go. Also, with their other duties and responsibilities, many times in-house recruiters do not perform due diligence on potential candidates to make sure they are who they say they are. This is especially important in the current job market. Smooth Transition To make sure you have a smooth transition and a mutually rewarding relationship with your new executive hire, it is important to find top candidates who know the industry, and understand the performance needs and culture of your organization. And while you may think you know what you are looking for, an unbiased third party can gain valuable insight into what your organization really needs through on-site visits, board surveys, and in-person interviews with staff and other senior executives. An executive search firm can also review your credit union’s long-range goals and strategic plan, discuss your policies on compensation and benefits, and provide you with insight into industry benchmarks for the type of candidates you are seeking—executives who not only have the technical skills to fill your position, but the personality to fit your culture. In addition, the consultant can get to know internal candidates and make sure they are

APRIL 2009

given equal consideration throughout the process in comparison to external candidates. The Process When it comes to the actual search process, a professional search consultant can save you a tremendous amount of legwork by providing the following services: • completing candidate profiles that outline their strengths, experience, interests and relocation needs; • performing background checks and reference follow-up; • interviewing on your behalf to determine experience and leadership/ management style; • helping establish compensation and retirement benefits; • assisting with candidate interviews, travel and housing;

• managing the drug-testing process; and • coordinating relocation details for the new appointee. It is also important that the hiring institution be kept apprised of the progress being made in the search for the new executive. The search consultant should provide feedback through periodic summaries of the process, including information on or comments from the prospects, the search timeframe and other pertinent information. Once the search is completed, you should receive an in-depth overview of each candidate’s qualifications and highlights to help with the final selection. Depending on the specific need of the institution and the scope of the search, the process can take 45 to 90 days for a non-planned departure (see an article on sudden loss on page 24)

and six to 12 months for the planned succession with a retiring executive. An Investment in the Future Attracting a top executive is an investment in your credit union’s future that doesn’t happen overnight. And, given the current volatility in employment statistics, it isn’t a step to be taken lightly. By establishing a relationship with an executive search firm early on, you can develop a partnership with a proven professional who will get to know your organization, its strengths and specific needs, and understand the specific talents and qualities you are looking for in your executive hires. Then, when the time comes to fill a position, you can be assured you are getting exactly the qualifications and capabilities you determined from

the beginning in a more timely and cost-effective manner. With the conditions of the financial services industry changing daily, it can be a real juggling act for credit unions just to keep the business running “as usual” for existing employees and members. The additional responsibility of finding and hiring the right talent to keep your business on track can be an unnecessary and costly challenge. When you take the time to analyze the total cost of ownership of this process vs. the recruiting fee a search firm may charge, the institution that goes it alone runs the risk of getting a less qualified candidate and, in many cases, it will cost them more to do so. Steve Swanston is executive vice president of John M. Floyd & Associates (, Baytown, Texas. JMFA was named a CUES Supplier of the Year in 2007.

APRIL 2009





Social Media Glossary In Social Media—Blogs & Beyond, part of the CUES Executive Briefing Series, author Trey Reeme, a CUES member and director of channel integration at Texas Dow Employees Credit Union, Lake Jackson, Texas, explores the world of social media, the many tools that comprise it, and how it differs from the Internet as we know it. Here’s a glossary of terms from the briefing. Blog: A contraction of the term “Web log.” It is a Web site with regular entries, usually by an individual, that contains commentary on topics and events, graphics and videos. Readers provide comments on the blog entries. Podcast: A Web-based audio broadcast distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and computers. Podcast can refer to a series of content or to the method by which it is syndicated (podcasting). RSS: Rich site summary or really simple syndication RSS is a format used to publish frequently updated content, such as a blog, news headlines and podcasts. RSS allows users to keep up to date without visiting blogs or news sites each day to check for updated content; the RSS reader regularly checks for new content and sends it to the user interface to be read. Social Media: A term used to describe the use of technology to create social interaction. Social media involves conversations and cooperative construction of content through online communities that share information, photos and videos. Social networks: In reference to Web use, social networks refer to sites that connect individuals and groups to share common interests and information.


For more about CUES offerings or to place an order, visit, call CUES at 800.252.2664 or 608.271.2664, ext. 3400, or e-mail us at

Bancography.............................. 57

CU Members Mortgage.............19

John M. Floyd & Associates......7

Pemco Technologies................ 49

Burns-Fazzi Brock..................... 39

DDJ Myers...................................17

Marquis........................................ 51

PSCU Financial Services, Inc. .....................................15, 32-33, 51

CO-OP Financial Services ................................................. 51, 64

Financial Service Centers Cooperative................................ 23

NAFCU Services Corp.................9


Credit Union 24........................... 63

Fifth Third Processing Solutions. ..........................................................2


This is an excerpt from Social Media—Blogs & Beyond, which provides examples of how credit unions are using Web 2.0 to interact with their members. CUES members, CUES Director members and CUES Supplier members can download a complimentary PDF of the executive briefing at Nonmembers can view an executive summary at

To advertise, e-mail: or CUES Supplier members are noted in blue. Find out more at

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Fifth Third Processing Solutions is proud to be a Preferred Processing Partner for NAFCU Services Corporation.

Micro-blogging: A form of blogging that allows brief updates (usually 140 characters or fewer) submitted through text messaging, instant messaging, e-mail or the Web. Twitter ( is one example. The updates are published to be viewed by anyone or to a specific group. Web 1.0: A term given in retrospect which refers to the World Wide Web and Web design during its early years (approximately 1994 to 2004). Web 2.0: Describes the use of Web technology that enhances communication and collaboration among users. This term does not point specifically to new technology but to the way Web designers create sites to enhance user interactivity and the way users utilize the Web to communicate and create content and communities.


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Strunk & Associates LP..............5

Johnson Honored by AACUC

CUES CEO Fred Johnson has been named the 2009 recipient of the Pete Crear Lifetime Achievement award by the African-American Credit Union Coalition ( The award is presented annually recognizing a credit union professional or volunteer whose career best embodies the AACUC’s mission. Johnson was cited for the aid CUES provided to credit unions affected by Hurricane Katrina, as well as contributions and support for victims of the tsunami that ravaged Asia in 2004. The AACUC also noted Johnson’s leadership in assisting organizations serving the credit union movement through CUES’ CEO Institute scholarship and his support of the MLK Build a Dream Memorial Project. The award will be presented to Johnson at a dinner on Aug. 7, during the AACUC’s Annual Conference in Las Vegas.

CUES Announces CEO Institute Scholarship Recipients

The winners of three partial scholarships for CUES’ 2009 CEO Institute program are: Robert Blumberg, president/CEO of $117 million Wauna Federal Credit Union, Clatskanie, Ore.; Crystal Sicilia, CSE, CEO of $18 million Mohawk Valley Credit Union, Marcy, N.Y.; and Kevin M. Jones, CEO of $48 million Johnson City Federal Credit Union, Johnson City, Tenn. The partial scholarships are for active CUES members who are full-time paid credit union executives committed to attending the entire three-year CEO Institute program. CEO Institute is a challenging academic and leadership program tailored specifically for credit union executives. It is held over three years at three of the nation’s most respected business schools: the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Philadelphia, which recently ranked 4th in BusinessWeek magazine’s annual Best U.S. Business Schools of 2008 list; Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management, Ithaca, N.Y., which ranked 11th on the BusinessWeek list; and the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, Charlottesville, Va., which ranked 16th on the list. “Sending an executive to CEO Institute will go a long way in helping a credit union remain strong through the current economic crisis, which in turn will help strengthen the movement,” says CUES Chairman Carla Altepeter, CCE, president/CEO of CitizensFirst Credit Union, Oshkosh, Wis. Since 1995, 412 credit union executives have completed the CEO Institute program. Executives who complete all three years and two post-segment projects are eligible to become Certified Chief Executives (CCE); to date, 329 have earned their CCE. To enroll or learn more about CUES’ CEO Institute, visit or call Lucy Roidt at 800.252.2664, or 608.271.2664, ext. 5327.

CUES NEWS The Golden 1 Credit Union Scholarship Winners Choose CUES

All recipients of the 2008 The Golden 1 Credit Union Leadership Scholars Program have chosen to apply their scholarship to a CUES executive education program. Institutes and winners include: • CEO Institute I: Strategic Planning, March 29-April 3—Eric Bruen, CEO of $18 million Desert Valleys Federal Credit Union, Ridgecrest, Calif.; Christine Haley, CEO of $ 65 million Southern California Postal Credit Union, Long Beach, Calif.; and Stephen Serfozo, CEO of $16 million McClatchy Employees Credit Union, Sacramento, Calif. • CEO Institute II: Organizational Effectiveness, April 26-May 1—Gregg Stockdale, CEO of $32 million 1st Valley Credit Union, San Bernardino, Calif.; and Michael Stremme, CEO of $12 million Palo Alto Community Federal Credit Union, Palo Alto, Calif. • CEO Institute III: Strategic Leadership Development, May 3-8—Jon Hernandez, CEO of $24 million Mattel Federal Credit Union, El Segundo, Calif. • Advanced Leadership Institute, July 19-24— Lynn Athens, CEO of $130 million Spectrum Federal Credit Union, San Francisco; and Adam Denbo, CEO of $29 million California Agribusiness Credit Union, Buena Park, Calif. All scholarships are awarded to small and mid-sized California/Nevada Credit Union League members, and are funded by $7 billion The Golden 1 Credit Union, Sacramento, Calif., in partnership with The Richard Myles Johnson Foundation, Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. Scholarships may be used at CUES’ CEO Institutes; CUES’ Advanced Leadership Institute, in partnership with the California/Nevada Credit Union League; and the Western CUNA Management School. Stremme echoes the thoughts of all winners, saying, “I appreciate the assistance from The Golden 1 Credit Union, their staff and their commitment to assisting small credit union executives. This has been a professional goal of mine and they have made it come true.” For more information about CUES’ executive education programs, please visit

For more about CUES offerings or to place an order, visit, call CUES at 800.252.2664 or 608.271.2664, ext. 3400, or e-mail us at

APRIL 2009



CALENDAR The Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto hosts the first-ever DLI: Governance.

CUES Introduces DLI: Governance

With the credit union movement in the midst of economic turmoil, governance is more important than ever. With that in mind, CUES introduces a new program designed specifically for credit unions, DLI ™ : Governance. This prestigious new institute, focusing on issues at the organizational level, will be held June 8–11 at the Joseph L. Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in Toronto. During this intensive three-and-one-half-day program, participants will learn how to become agents of positive change in the boardroom—at a time when that role is more important than ever. Participants will learn innovative ways to work efficiently and effectively, and learn to balance healthy debate and diversity with consensus building. The course is designed to enhance participants’ governance skills through case studies that offer real-world insights. Topics of discussion will include: • the core relationship between management and the board; • strategy and the art of communicating in the boardroom; • shaping the board culture; • succession planning; and • board, committees and management relationships. By the end of the course, participants will have developed an enhanced ability to contribute in the board environment by balancing healthy debate with consensus building. Governance is an area of particular emphasis and expertise at the Rotman School, where the philosophy is that the role of the board is to help management create value in the organization, while avoiding unnecessary risk. Participants will benefit from this belief and leave the institute with a thorough understanding of such key issues as risk management, director duty and responsibility and influencing change. For more information, visit



APRIL 2009

Please remember that passports are required for travel to and from the U.S. CUES Webinars CUES offers Webinars on a variety of topics. For more information, visit

CUES Annual Convention June 21-24 Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montreal

Center for Applied Executive Management April 14-17 Hyatt Regency Denver Convention Center Denver

Advanced Leadership Institute (Offered in partnership with the California/ Nevada Credit Union League) July 19-24 Harvard Business School Boston

CEO Institute II: Organizational Effectiveness April 26-May 1 Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management Ithaca, N.Y.

School of Business LendinG School II: Fundamental Analysis and Diagnostic Assessment July20-24 Sheraton Suites Galleria Atlanta

CEO Institute III: Strategic leadership developmenT May 3-8 The University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business Charlottesville, Va. CUES School of Risk ManagemEnt May 4-5 Sheraton Suites Galleria Atlanta June 1-2 Marriott Denver Tech Center Denver School of Business LendinG School I: Business Lending Fundamentals May 4-8 Sheraton Suites Galleria Atlanta June 1-5 Marriott Denver Tech Center Denver DLI ™ : Governance June 8-11 The University of Toronto Rotman School of Management Toronto School of Sales & Service June 9-12 Four Seasons Hotel Toronto Toronto

Aug. 10-14 Marriott Denver Tech Center Denver DLI ™ : Strategic Planning July 21-24 IESE Business School University of Navarra Barcelona, Spain CUES Director Development Seminar Sept. 16-18 Charleston Place Hotel Charleston, S.C. School of Business LendinG School III: Strategic Business Lending Sept. 28-Oct.2 Sheraton Suites Galleria Atlanta Oct. 12-16 Marriott Denver Tech Center Denver CEO Network 2009 Nov. 1-4 The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes Orlando, Fla. Directors conference Dec. 6-9 JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa Palm Desert, Calif.

RETURN LOCATION! Back by Popular Demand!

CU directors are encouraged to attend events listed in red. For more information on any CUES conference, meeting, Webinar or institute, call 800.252.2664 or 608.271.2664 ext. 3400; E-mail; or visit our web site,

World-Class Executive Education for Directors DLI™: Governance

New Institute!

June 8–11, 2009

Joseph L. Rotman School of Management University of Toronto • Toronto CUES® is pleased to expand its line of first-rate educational offerings with DLI™: Governance. This prestigious new institute focuses on issues at the organizational level; attend and become an agent of positive change within your credit union.

DLI™: Strategic Planning July 21–24, 2009

IESE Business School University of Navarra • Barcelona, Spain Explore issues from a macro perspective at this prestigious, graduate-level program. You’ll focus on strategic leadership and gain unparalleled insight into global economic issues, and learn how to guide your organization in uncertain times.

Directors—don’t miss these intensive programs designed to take your volunteer experience further and make you a stronger leader! Discover more today at, select Executive Education; or call Lucy Roidt, executive education and councils manager, at 800.252.2664, or 608.271.2664, ext. 5327, or e-mail




The recent economic and industry challenges have revealed two types of leader: those who retrench in fear and hope that the most recent bad news will be the last, and those who know that challenges will always exist and that we must remain committed to the attack. Some are tempted to hide, wait and hope the bad news doesn’t fi nd them. Some are tempted to react by saying, “Put a hold on what we are doing to grow the credit union; we’ll pick it back up when things turn around.” The leaders and credit unions that will survive and thrive will be those that continue forward with the strategies and tactics Michael Neill, CSE, is president of that will grow business. MNA Consulting Inc., Atlanta, CUES’ partner in ServiStar™, consultationThese leaders understand they have to based sales/service training and improve their ability to increase income, not development. only to reduce expenses. They keep their attention and money invested in the things that will grow business. Leaders, think about doing these things: • When cutting expenses, cut those things that don’t create opportunities to grow business. • Meet with your staff to tell them the importance of every employee being committed to service and sales. Enjoin them in the battle to grow the credit union at every single member interaction. • Continue to lead, coach, train and equip your staff to generate more business for the credit union. • Only hire and promote those who have proven their desire and ability to add value to the member experience and the credit union’s earnings. • Don’t invest money in hiring new staff. Use part of the money saved through reduced staffing to invest in training existing staff to be effective sales and service champions. • Do you track sales results? If you must reduce staff, cut those who can’t or won’t join with you to grow the credit union. If they won’t do it now, do you think they’ll do it when it appears less critical to your success? • Train, equip and lead your management team to increase performance expectations and coach to improve performance of existing staff. This will allow you to accomplish more with less people. The times call for leadership. The decisions we are making now will resonate for years to come. Let’s each of us look in the mirror and determine to lead, not hide. Be fearless. Read this complete post and listen to interviews with “fearless” CEOs at in the “sales/service” category.



APRIL 2009

“I encourage you to talk to your trades and your organizations so your voice is heard about whatever direction you want to go.”

NCUA Insurance Director John Kutchey, quoted in the CUES Skybox post, “NCUA: Tell Us Where You Stand” (at in the “credit union capital” category) “Credit unions are typically smaller than most banks, and their higher customer satisfaction follows a pattern in many industries where smaller companies tend to offer a better and more individualized service.”

Claes Fornell, Donald C. Cook professor of business administration and director of the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business, quoted in the CUES Nexus Connection post, “Bigger Isn’t Always Better: CUs Beat out the Banks” (at, type “bigger” into the search) “Community Financial Credit Union of Colorado gives back to its members. Why? It’s what they do; they’re a credit union.”

CUES Professional Development Manager Christopher Stevenson in the CUES Nexus Connection post, “A Little Ray of Sunshine on an Otherwise Gloomy Day” (at in the “CU philosophy” category)


CUES Skybox ( and CUES Nexus Connection ( nexusconnection) are official blogs of CUES. Check them out today! Add your feedback to an ongoing discussion by clicking on “Comments” at the bottom of the posting. Also, add CUES Skybox and Nexus Connection to your newsreader by clicking the orange icon and choosing your reader’s icon from the handy list. Don’t use a reader? Sign up for e-mail updates on either or both sites.

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Andy Bonthron. Malibu, California. Thanks to CO-OP Mobile, he can check his account balance while he checks out the sunset.

CO-OP Mobile and CO-OP Contactless Processing. More ways we help you help your members. Here at CO-OP, we’re constantly working to keep you and your members a step ahead with the latest tools and technology. Take two of our newest products as examples: CO-OP Contactless Processing and CO-OP Mobile. Contactless payments allow your members to make purchases by tapping or waving a device near a terminal rather than handing their card to a sales clerk or swiping. This not only saves your members time, but it also helps make it their preferred form of payment, thus increasing your interchange revenue. Leveraging CO-OP’s Next Generation Network technology, CO-OP Mobile allows your members to manage their accounts right from their cell phones—any time, anywhere. And right now, if you’re one of the first 50 credit unions to sign up for CO-OP Mobile, you’ll get 6 months of free transactions.* Find out how at CO-OPFS.ORG

*Offer expires June 30, 2009 ©2009 CO-OP Financial Services

CUES Annual Convention ®

June 21–24, 2009 Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Montréal, Québec, Canada E-mail:

Register today! Sign up for CUES Annual Convention online at; or call 800.252.2664, or 608.271.2664, ext. 3400.

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April CUMM  

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