Corporate Conundrum: One Issue in Every Plan

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DALLAS-One topic making the agenda at strategic planning sessions among CUs in the Southwestern U.S. has been looking to alternatives to corporate CUs for various services.

Karen Houston-Johnson, VP of OnBalance, a division of Credit Union Resources, has already facilitated two planning sessions in which talk quickly turned to replacement solutions for corporate services. Houston-Johnson expects many more CUs to place the topic high during upcoming strategy sessions. "There is a lot of consternation regarding the corporates, and a ton of animosity about recapitalizing Southwest Corporate. I have been in the credit union industry for a long while and this is the first time I have seen this type of contempt within the system."

Houston-Johnson said she will not be surprised if a large number of CUs decide to find alternatives, and some may simply choose another corporate that has performed well. The majority, however, will seek another one-stop provider, predicted Houston-Johnson, who acknowledged that CUs realize they will likely have to piece together a replacement solution.

Part of the reason for the shift away from corporate for services is that the economy may finally be giving credit unions time to breathe. "Last year was about survival," offered Houston-Johnson. "Credit unions were preoccupied with just making ends meet and getting assessments taken care of. This year they are looking more toward the future-and at some things they are not typically comfortable talking about during planning sessions.

That's alternate fees-charging for checking, bill pay, and increasing ATM surcharges, Houston-Johnson said. "They know they have to make up some of that lost fee income."

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