Hanging Around Seattle with NAFCU by CUSO Guru, Guy Messick

My first job after law school was clerking for a federal judge in Seattle.   It is a wonderful corner of our country.   On clear days when the “Mountain is Out,” Mount Rainer looms over the city to remind all that there is a wonderful world outside of man’s steel and concrete colonies.

Clarissa and Adam with daughters Millie and Elouise

My son Adam lives in Seattle with his lovely wife Clarissa and his two daughters, Millie and Elouise.   Elouise was just two weeks old when I visited.   As a proud Grand Dad, I include a photo.  When Dan Berger offered to include Jack and me on a panel, I jumped at the opportunity to include a family visit along with the NAFCU Conference.   Thank you Dan.

The trip to the Northwest was good timing to attend a Board meeting with Washington State Employees Credit Union to discuss their CUSOs.  One Financial Washington is a long-standing and very successful CUSO providing mortgage lending.  Q-Cash is a technology CUSO that has developed an app and algorithms that enable a member to apply for an unsecured loan with six clicks on a mobile phone.  Approval and funding can occur before the member finishes his or her Starbucks coffee.   Equally impressive, Q-Cash is developing a financial coaching app that uses artificial intelligence to advise and nudge members to achieve their desired financial goals.  Financial literacy on steroid

The Conference theme was all about the need for credit unions to change to adapt to the new realities: extensive competition, the increased use of technology especially mobile devices, and changing member expectations.   I felt at home.   It sounded like a NACUSO Conference.   It was great to hear NAFCU push the message hard to both credit union professionals and directors.   Jack and I participated on a panel that discussed how CUSOs are helping respond to the challenges facing credit unions. Anthony Demangone from NAFCU led our panel and did a great job.

I finished the day making a similar presentation by phone to the Board of Credit Union Financial Network, a multi-owned CUSO providing investment and insurance management services to credit unions.  They were in San Diego.   That is what drew me to credit unions.   They hang out in nice places.

Jack has never been to Pike Place Market, so we walked down at lunch.  I took Jack to one of my favorite stalls, Chukars.   They sell a variety of chocolate covered cherries.   The Bing and the Rainer are in season.   Jack was hooked and bought a couple of bags.

Many of you may have heard of the Amazon Go grocery store.  There is only one and it is in Seattle.  I downloaded the app and went for a visit.   As you walk in, there are turnstiles.  You place your phone on the screen and go in.  Once inside you just pick what you want off the shelf and leave without stopping by a cashier.    The technology knows what you took and you are sent a receipt.  I bought an ice tea and trail mix.  That level of convenience in the payment world is coming and coming fast.   I expect that soon a wearable device, maybe a watch, can be used to identify you so you do not have to take three seconds to pull out your phone and go into the store through a turnstile.

I am usually a back-row guy.   You know the type.  We are afraid to commit to a presentation.  We want an opportunity to slip out with minimal attention to our escape.  Well I made the mistake of sitting in the front row.   I don’t know what got into me.   The presenter was Elliot Eisenberg, an economist who gave a great presentation.  I would have stayed for the whole presentation no matter where I was sitting.    He was a roamer.    He often descended from the stage and walked back and forth across the front of the room.   When he needed an example of the older demographics, he chose me, the old guy.   While I was quite proud to represent the Baby Boomers, it was also a bit depressing.   But then again, if you are a CUSO Guru, you have to look like you have a few miles on you.