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L-R: Tony Kitt, SVP of Strategic Innovation and Planning for the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; Jon Hernandez, CEO of CalCom FCU and Chairman of the Southern California Credit Union Alliance (SCCUA); Gary Perez, CEO of USC CU; Shruti Miyashiro, CEO of Orange County's CU; Joe Schroeder, CEO of Ventura County CU; Jeff York, CEO of CoastHills FCU; Larry Palochik, SVP of Member Solutions for the Leagues; and Robert York, Chief Marketing Officer of CalCom FCU and Director of SCCUA

EVENT SPURS COLLABORATION AMONG CUs
updated 06/11/13 11:36 AM
SCCUA Holds 2nd Annual Conference
A deeper look at what "collaboration" truly means took shape during the Southern California Credit Union Alliance's (SCCUA) Second Annual Collaboration Conference, which focused on how credit unions can drive the philosophy of "working together" to the next level so their members can fully engage with the value provided them.

"Cooperation is even a step further than collaboration—it's working together towards a common goal," said Bernard Brun, keynote speaker and director of governmental relations for Desjardins Group, to the 125 attendees. At $150 billion in assets, Desjardins Group is the largest financial cooperative organization in Canada, comprising a network of nearly 400 credit unions and other cooperative financial service companies.

Brun dived into why the Desjardins model has been successful in Canada—namely how the group is a hit "because we are fully integrated," he said. Certain structural challenges remain, but with every credit union essentially on the same page because of the unique Desjardins model, this movement is acting as a unified force.

"Yes, our credit unions are all under the 'Desjardin' brand—however, there's so much more collaboration you can work on here in the United States before you even think of creating a national brand," Brun said.

He was one of several speakers touting the growth opportunity in front of credit unions as the industry faces a post-recession era where new investments in technology and operations that engage "Generation Y" and "Millennials" are critical to future success. One prime example stood out: Younger generations are so thirsty for technology, they will demand the convenience of conducting personal business via digital tablets from the comfort of their home.

Meanwhile, key issues facing the entire industry were top of mind as California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues President and CEO Diana Dykstra gave an update on perhaps the most important political credit union battle brewing in Washington D.C. right now. Dykstra pleaded with attendees to implement the "Don't Tax My Credit Union" message into their communication pieces with credit union employees and members—a massive grassroots effort aimed at garnering 500,000 communiques from members to their congressional representatives in California and Nevada, and a total of 5 million throughout the nation.

"Playing defense will not give us a victory," Dykstra said. "It will take everyone in this room to educate your employees and members. It's time to step up our efforts and build our political muscle."

During a conference break, SCCUA Chairman Jon Hernandez said member credit unions of the organization are working through many of the same operational and regulatory issues in 2013 as in prior years, but in a healthier economy. Although more interest from credit unions in collaboration is a healthy sign, it doesn't mean SCCUA is focused solely on building its membership "just to get bigger."

"Bigger doesn't equate to success," he said. "Sometimes getting bigger means getting too complicated."

He described SCCUA—which was originally founded in December 2008 as a forum for small credit unions, but welcomes larger members—as a small credit union. "There's something special about a small credit union, and the feeling members get when they step inside of one. That's what SCCUA is all about. We can still be successful without feeling like we have to focus on growing large."

                           
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