Last week I attended the National Credit Union Roundtable in Seattle. The largest 150 credit unions are invited to attend this annual event along with the CEOs of CUNA and NAFCU, league presidents, and other system partners like CUNA Mutual Group and CO-OP. The makeup of attendees was about 75 percent credit union CEOs and about 25 percent league presidents and system partners. We had five credit unions from our two states that included Joe Brancucci from GTE Financial, Tom Dorety from Suncoast, Bob Fisher from Grow Financial, Terry West from VyStar, and Larry Scott from Campus USA. In all, we had about 12 credit unions that were eligible to attend, based on asset size.
The two-day agenda included significant time for discussion on national issues of importance. We discussed three very interesting questions that the group was also surveyed on: 1) Should there be a greater strategic partnership between CUNA and NAFCU? Overwhelmingly, credit union CEOs (84 percent) and league presidents/system partners (84 percent) said yes; 2) Should credit unions have choice with regard to the CUNA/League membership? Almost two-thirds of CEOs said yes (71 percent), while league presidents/system partners were split (50 percent); 3) Should there be more consolidation/collaboration among leagues? Again, overwhelmingly CEOs (80 percent) and league presidents/systems partners (81 percent) said yes.
While most in attendance didn’t find the results too surprising, what I will say is that we need to have more discussion on these critical system structure issues. There were more than 115 people in attendance at the Roundtable, so this is a very good sampling of the largest credit unions and system leadership. We need to sit down and really look at our industry, as a whole, and see where we can collaborate more and reduce redundancies, especially among CUNA/NAFCU and the state leagues. This might entail hard negotiations and uncomfortable conversations, but they are much needed. Our industry is evolving and the trade associations that represent credit unions need to make sure we’re evolving, as well.
We were given presentations on payments, another area where collaboration can reduce expenses, and big data. There was talk about the next CUNA CEO which really played back into the national issues forum. The industry needs to talk about the three questions above as CUNA searches for its next CEO. The full CUNA board and search committee met in Seattle in conjunction with the Roundtable. It is my understanding that a set of characteristics of what the next CUNA CEO should look like was developed and the “official” launch by the search firm of Russell Reynolds should be forthcoming in the next couple of weeks.
There was also much discussion both on and off the record regarding CUNA and NAFCU merging. I think we all agree with the departure of Bill Cheney, now is the perfect time for a real and significant exploration of this possibility. I personally spoke to both CUNA and NAFCU’s chairmen, voicing my support for such a meaningful dialogue.
Like many events like this, the networking opportunities with colleagues and credit unions were just as beneficial as the sessions. I would strongly encourage all credit unions that are invited to the National Credit Union Roundtable to attend next year. The location has not yet been determined, but the dates will be May 3-5, 2015. Mark it down on your calendar now so you can take part in discussions and networking that is greatly beneficial to the future success of the credit union system.
Where’s Patrick: This week I will be splitting my time between Tallahassee and Central Florida. I, along with members of our management team will be making some credit unions visits/presentations in Central Florida over three days. To see my tentative schedule for the next two weeks, click here.
Visit the LSCU YouTube channel to view the President's Quarterly video.