Over the course of several years, credit union leaders in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas put in a considerable amount of time and effort exploring the pros and cons of consolidation. Ultimately, it was determined that consolidation would provide the greatest benefit to member credit unions. Thus, the Cornerstone Credit Union League was born.
Becoming official on July 1, the Cornerstone Credit Union League is headquartered in Dallas, with satellite offices in Austin, Texas; Little Rock, Ark. and Oklahoma City, Okla.
Former Texas Credit Union League President and CEO Dick Ensweiler was selected as the CEO of the Cornerstone Credit Union League. And each satellite office now has a president.
In the following Q&A, Ensweiler outlines plans for the future now that the consolidation is complete.
Question: What is your overall take on the consolidation process now that it is behind you?
Ensweiler: Overall things moved along pretty smoothly. No one entered the consolidation seeking personal gain. The intent was always to build an even better and stronger league for our member credit unions.
With this consolidation, we can now share resources and capitalize on the strengths each league brought into the new organization to fulfill our mission of being the foundation for success for more than 650 member credit unions.
We consider the consolidation to be a successful venture and are very appreciative of the support shown by our credit unions in all three states. As financial cooperatives, our credit unions understand the value of collaboration.
Question: What are the next steps for the Cornerstone Credit Union League?
Ensweiler: Now that the consolidation is behind us, we are hard at work planning and executing our short and long-term goals.
From an immediate perspective, our first objective is to make sure our member credit unions understand that even though their league is operating under a new brand and serving credit unions in three states, our commitment to them is unwavering. We are well poised to provide the guidance, resources and solutions our credit unions need to strengthen and grow their organizations.
Question: It seems the consolidation has been well-received by member credit unions; however, is there any concern that service to member credit unions will be compromised?
Ensweiler: Not at all. As I alluded to in the previous question, we are well-positioned to meet the needs of our member credit unions. Throughout the consolidation process, we assessed what value each league was providing to their member credit unions because we certainly didn’t want to compromise on that.
Credit unions operate in a highly competitive market space and their needs today won’t necessarily be their needs tomorrow. Additionally, a credit union of $20 million in assets doesn’t have the same needs and expectations of their league as a $1 billion in assets credit union. Therefore, as their league, it is our responsibility to continually evaluate the products, programs, resources, services and solutions we offer to ensure relevancy.
Question: How do you view Cornerstone Credit Union League’s position in the marketplace?
Ensweiler: Cornerstone Credit Union League only became official July 1, and it will take time to build our brand, but we are confident in our future. Whether we are the Arkansas Credit Union League, the Credit Union Association of Oklahoma, the Texas Credit Union League or the Cornerstone Credit Union League, our role is to support and advocate for credit unions. When a credit union calls the league, there will be a staff person on the other line ready to answer their question(s). When they visit our web site, they will find quick links to wherever they need to go.
Our name has changed, and we now serve a broader geographic. But our focus has not changed; nor has our commitment.
Question: What are some of things coming down the pipeline?
Ensweiler: The first order of business was obviously to have a board in place ready to hit the ground running on July 1. A transition board was established early on in the consolidation process and they became the official board July 1.
The board directed staff to review the 2013 strategic plans of all three states, and consolidate those into one strategic plan. The board will review the consolidated strategic plan at their September board meeting, which will the first official board meeting of the Cornerstone Credit Union League board of directors. This consolidated strategic plan will carry us through 2013.
The board will hold their first strategic planning session in 2014.
We will hold our first Cornerstone Credit Union League Leadership Conference & Expo Sept. 5-7. We are very excited to be able to provide a platform for our credit unions in all three states to network, share experiences and best practices.
Branding will be a significant focus going forward. We are in the process of all of rebranding our marketing and promotional materials, as well updating our publications, web sites, social media sites, etc.
While Credit Union Resources is keeping its same identity, the Texas Credit Union Foundation, which consolidated with the foundations in Arkansas and Oklahoma, changed its name to the Cornerstone Credit Union Foundation. The consolidated foundation is now in the process of rebranding itself.
Question: How do you view the role of Cornerstone Credit Union League in the marketplace?
Ensweiler: I believe the League will play an ever-increasingly important role. With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau focused on ensuring there are rules and regulations in place presumably to protect consumers, and the bankers bent on hindering our growth, the league will play a key role in helping credit unions navigate the complex regulatory and legislative environments.
Consumers demand and expectations of their financial institutions will continue to rise; thereby putting pressure on financial institutions to operate smarter and more efficiently. The League, as well as Resources and the Foundation, is here to provide the support and resources our credit unions need to be successful in their efforts to serve their members.