NACUSO Spotlight on Phil Magnuson, CEO of HomeCU

When we get a new NACUSO member we always do a little research on them to see how we might be able to help promote them, connect them or welcome them in some unique way. When I looked at the HomeCU website I got a little misty-eyed after I clicked on the HomeCU Team page. The heading said “Meet the people who matter in our company.” And rather than having the hierarchy of the org. chart, all employees were listed in alphabetical order, including the CEO. We reached out to Phil to see if he would share his story. Enjoy, and welcome to the NACUSO family HomeCU Team!

The HomeCU Team on “Bad Tie Day” Phil Magnuson, CEO is the 4th person from the right.

What’s your current position and can you give me a brief overview of what it is you do in your work?

My name is Phil Magnuson.  I am the CEO of HomeCU.  I get to do everything!  Some days it is Sales, some days SW Development, some days Support, some days taking out the trash.

What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about? 

The most motivating part of being at HomeCU is the thought that we are really helping our customer credit unions and their members.  Being a CUSO is very important to us, as we truly see ourselves as a Service Organization.

I want to hear the story of how you came to work with credit unions. What attracted you to work for HomeCU?

Coming to HomeCU was a great opportunity for me personally.  It seems like every position I had prior to HomeCU was training for leading this team.

Now if we can go even further back, where did you grow up and what was it like living there? Where did you go to school?

I grew up in Knoxville TN, in the community of Bearden.  In my younger days it was a rural setting, but I had my own baseball field in the back yard (not really just mine, we lived next to the Little League field).  Now Holston Methodist FCU is literally built on my old street – almost on top of where the house was.

Who were your mentors along the way? People who deeply influenced who you are, what you believe in and what you’re committed to in your work and life? Tell me about them.

One of my best mentors was my last manager at Hewlett Packard.  He taught me that 1) there are always options 2) sometimes people listen more when you speak more softly.

Finally, can you share something interesting about you that would surprise our readers? It can be anything, a hobby, an adventure, sports, the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you,   

I’m an avid soccer fan and have been a soccer referee for many years.

PART TWO: The Business Story

Tell me the story of how your CUSO/Company was created – the early days. Tell me about some of the memorable characters in the history, some that brought your story color, drama, comedy, conflict?

HomeCU was originally Database Management Systems – DMS.  DMS efforts with credit unions were started by Joe Pearson and Jan Brinkerhoff, who many people know.   Both Joe and Jan are long-time advocates of credit unions and dedicated to seeing them succeed.  When they made the decision to retire, it was important to them that DMS/HomeCU continue as a CUSO.

What were the key relationships that mattered most? What were the key sources of support or resistance you encountered?

Our key relationships have always been with our client credit unions.  Many have been with HomeCU now for decades.  We like the “home” part of our name and consider our credit unions part of the family.

What have been the greatest successes in your opinion?

The greatest success has been helping credit unions with affordable technology.  We believe we are one of the most cost-effective vendors for our clients.  It is a testimony that so many have been with us so long.  We are known for taking care of our clients (family) no matter what the concern and treating them as valued partners.

PART THREE: Reflections and Lessons

If you could start your CUSO/Company all over again, would you do anything differently? Why and what would you do?

There is always room to do more and move faster.  I think perhaps we could have done more to expand more quickly and bring more services to the credit unions.

Finally, when you think of the future for credit unions, what gives you hope and what makes you concerned?

My biggest concern is that credit unions are not moving forward with mobile-ready solutions that play to the younger members.

The hope is that it is clear the credit unions are far superior in personal service and pricing to their members, compared to large financial institutions.