In my thirty years of forming credit union collaborations, I have come to see common lessons, especially in multiply owned CUSOs providing one or more back office operational services. I examine twelve of those lessons in these types of CUSOs. Read more on A Dozen Lessons Learned in Credit Union Collaborations By Guy Messick…
Never burn a bridge with former girlfriends. It can jump start a career. I stayed friendly with my high school girlfriend Maryanne who married John Unangst the President of Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union. John formed one of the first CUSOs in 1988. The CUSO provided mortgage services and data processing services to multiple credit unions. As a result of meeting John through Maryanne, I formed John’s CUSO. John became a director on the newly formed NACUSO Board and asked me to go with him to San Diego on his dime to a NACUSO Conference and play golf. My bags were packed before he finished his invitation.
In San Diego, I did a presentation to a four table conference. John suggested to the NACUSO Board that I be their General Counsel. My most attractive feature was that I was free. So began my representation of NACUSO. I thought I could handle this gig as CUSOs are essentially small businesses and I had a lot of experience representing small businesses, including being the attorney for the local Chamber of Commerce. I grew up in a small business. My parents owned two restaurants. Eventually, my practice evolved into the near exclusive representation of credit unions and CUSOs.
The part of our practice that gets my juices flowing is helping credit unions create and expand CUSOs and other collaborative relationships. How can we structure a relationship between organizations and people that will reward all participants on a personal and professional level? Collaboration is not easy. It is not altruistic. It is finding people with the right values and incentives to work together to achieve a common goal. It is a challenge but when it works, it can provide amazing results.
We’re excited to feature the 2017 NACUSO CU Collaboration & Innovation Award winner 7 Insurance. We sat down with Jerry Tweeten to hear how he came to work in credit unions and how two credit unions, less than a mile apart decided to not see each other as competitors but collaborators for the benefit of their members.
PART ONE: Life Story and Experience
What’s your current position and can you give me a brief overview of what it is you do in your work? I am the President, and we are a full lines independent insurance agency. We are a collaboration of Y12 FCU and ORNL FCU and I oversee nine CSR/Agents. I manage both credit union’s corporate insurance programs and their other insurance programs, GAP, Service Contracts, Debt Cancellation, Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D), and collateral protection insurance (CPI) programs.
What would you say most motivates you to do what you do? What are you most excited or passionate about?
What motivates and excites me most of all, along with our team, is saving our members money. The savings are real, not perceived. We have saved our members well over $500,000. Our most successful stories involved three of our members that saved over $3,000 annually on their insurance and provided better coverage. How can this not excite you?
I want to hear the story of how you came to work with credit unions. What attracted you to work for 7 Insurance?
In 1986 I started at Alaska USA FCU as a temp employee, working in their insurance department. I worked within the insurance department during my tenure there and established their insurance CUSO as their Manager of Insurance Services.
My father was a CMSGT at Elmendorf AFB and opened an account for my brother, sister and myself. AK USA FCU was always part of my life since we moved to Alaska in 1977, so for me it was a place that was always there for us. I had a friend who knew the human resources person at AK USA FCU and she told me there were open positions. I was there the next day and started working the following week. AK USA FCU believed in me and offered me every opportunity to succeed. I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me and my family. I’ve been working in and around credit union’s since 1986 and won’t work in any other industry.
New Features Lead to Greater Security and Faster, More Complete Insights
Springboard, CO-OP Financial Services’ proprietary credit card servicing application enabling credit union staff access to member card data in real time, is realizing new potential in its latest edition, rolling out to credit unions this month.
NACUSO is on a mission to tell stories of collaboration, innovation and cooperation that not only strengthen the credit union movement but also are in the best interests of our members. We believe that we’re better together. We also know that the CUSO model has mitigated the need for many credit unions to merge by obtaining economies of scale and driving efficiencies. CUProdigy is a great example of helping credit unions with a quality cloud based core that is affordable. We heard about the tremendous cost savings and reached out to a recent convert, Roy MacKinnon, CEO of Edwards FCU.
Roy, first, tell me a little about your credit union.
Edwards FCU was founded in 1962 on Edwards AFB in California and was originally chartered to serve personnel on the base. Edwards FCU received a community charter shortly after 2000 as many military base credit unions did. Today, we serve all of the Antelope Valley, which is nicknamed Aerospace Valley because, in addition to the Air Force base, other major manufacturers are here like Lockheed, Northup Grumman and The Spaceship Company. We are proud to say that Edwards is the only locally born and raised credit union that’s still headquartered in the Antelope Valley.
How did you come to work at Edwards FCU?
I became the CEO of Edwards in May of 2016. Previously, I was with First Entertainment Credit Union for 25 years. This was my first CEO gig and I knew what I was walking into. I was handed a financial statement showing a $120K loss and 7.2% capital the first month. I immediately initiated a freeze on just about everything. By mid-year we were running at an annual loss of about $200K. By year-end, with a significant expense reduction and with the financial benefits of a PSCU conversion, we reduced our year-end loss to just $5,900.
I felt a missed opportunity existed, one that many credit unions encounter when they convert to a community charter – founding segments are ignored. In this case, it was the air base. I told the board that if they hired me, we would go back to our core, get our house in order, and then when we’re a little healthier we’ll go back to the community in a very disciplined way.