In New York, Assistance Offered In Better Assessing Where CU Stands

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A partnership just underway in 2006 between the New York State Credit Union League should start to pay dividends for credit unions when it comes to planning for 2007.

The league has partnered with Virtual CEO Consulting Group to assist Empire State credit unions in strategic planning and assessing the status of their financial, member and board operations.

NYSCUL President William J. Mellin said the league itself had used Virtual CEO Consulting Group to perform an online internal assessment process which Mellin compared to an environmental impact study to provide a definitive answer to: where are we in our organization.

"The most important aspect is to be able to get a pulse on the credit union," Mellin said. "Some of our board members have used it and been very pleased."

According to Mellin, credit unions in general face similar challenges: a competitive market that is increasing each month; rising interest rates that are putting pressure on ROA; ensuring governance and leadership reflects the membership, and hiring and retaining good employees.

"A lot of credit unions have boards reflecting their original SEGs," he said observed, even though many have also expanded their charters.

Mellin said a more thorough review may reveal that the board is out of touch with membership or going in a different direction. Is the membership older? Will they actually use online banking after all the time and effort is put into place?

"Maybe the members want a basic credit union," he said.

Mellin stressed that Virtual CEO can't provide a final answer for everyone, as what's right and wrong regarding financial operations is different for each credit union. Virtual CEO is an assessment and not a "witch hunt," he said.

Virtual CEO separates its solutions into the following categories: strategic planning, member satisfaction measurement and improvement, leadership development, board governance and organizational effectiveness.

Virtual CEO Co-founder Jeffrey Rigsby said his company has worked with New York credit unions for years and now can offer a lower consulting fee by being affiliated with the New York league. Rigsby said fees vary based on the size of the credit union and the scope of the examination.

"Now we can work diligently for credit unions, but on the league's behalf," he said.

One question Rigsby said some credit unions have sought to answer is related to ensuring the board is able to understand the needs of younger members and potential members. CUs need younger members to grow but the aging population of the U.S., especially baby boomers, is creating problems. "It's getting harder to get volunteer board members," he said.

Rigsby said Virual CEO shows credit unions how to clearly define and develop a younger leadership team who have less experience and resources. Virtual CEO and its partners serve clients throughout the United States and in 16 countries.

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