New NACUSO CEO Outlines Strategies

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif.-Jack Antonini became CEO of the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations on Dec. 1, and he believes credit unions would make even greater use of CUSOs if only they knew the benefits.

Antonini takes over for Tom Davis, who spent two decades on the NACUSO Board and the last four years as CEO of the trade group before resigning to pursue other business interests. Until last year, Antonini was president and CEO of Cardtronics, the world's largest ATM operator. During his tenure at Cardtronics, the organization grew from 8,000 machines and $6 million in revenue to 33,000 machines and $110-million in revenue.

Prior to Cardtronics, he was CEO of USAA Federal Savings Bank in San Antonio.

Credit Union Journal: When you were hired Mark Zook [president/CEO of MaPS Credit Union, Salem, Ore., and chair of the NACUSO CEO succession committee] said one of the factors in your favor was a need to look outside the credit union movement for new ideas and thinking. What do you bring to NACUSO and to credit unions from your experiences in the banking world and at Cardtronics?

Antonini: I view my most valuable experience as the nearly 11 years I spent with member-owned USAA, where my last position was vice chairman, president and CEO of USAA's banking businesses, as well as serving on the Executive Council, the top 10 leaders of this amazing organization. Serving under McD [General Robert McDermott], former chairman of USAA for 25 years, taught me the value of putting service first and finding innovative solutions that are both customer convenient and employee efficient.

I value my USAA experience, along with my more than 20 years leading financial services companies, and my six-plus years as CEO of Cardtronics-where we took the company from selling ATMs to mom-and-pop merchants to the largest ATM operator in the world. The common thread is innovative solutions to challenges that put service first, and a vision for how to serve our customers that facilitates strong growth.

CUJ: How do you view the current state of CUSOs, and what can be done to make them more valuable to credit unions?

Antonini: CUSOs appear to have solidly become a part of the credit union product and delivery system infrastructure, for at least a good portion of the industry, demonstrating that we can improve both our service and product offerings and keep our costs lower by working together and utilizing the CUSO framework.

CUJ: How do you see NACUSO's role in making CUSOs more valuable to credit unions?

Antonini: One of the innovations we implemented at USAA's bank was working with "alliance partners" to deliver products and services that we could not provide from our single location in San Antonio. One of the important lessons learned was how to negotiate and structure the service agreement to ensure that our members received the best possible service, and to survey our members to ensure their satisfaction. If an alliance partner did not meet our service standards-which were measured every way that can be imagined, but was summarized by the question "Would you recommend this product or service to another member of your family or another USAA member?"-- and if the alliance partner did not maintain a 95% to 98% "recommend rate" for two quarters in a row, they were removed from the program.

That was a strong incentive to put our members first, and really take care of them, or the alliance partner lost a significant source of business. The credit union industry is in much the same position as we were at USAA; members are the most valuable asset, and we can work together to leverage the membership to provide them product value and service that they could not obtain on their own.

I hope to help the industry grow and satisfy their members by utilizing the CUSO structure, and help them be comfortable allowing a CUSO to serve their members, through the performance evaluation questionnaire approach that we used so successfully at USAA.

Also as part of my role in NACUSO, I would like to help more credit unions get comfortable with using CUSOs than are currently using them. I want to help them understand the benefits of CUSOs and how they can be confident their members will be delighted with the product/service provided through a CUSO is a significant step in winning over more of the industry.

CUJ: In the last year Tom Davis has spoken of his vision of a "CUSOs Version 3.0," a networked business design wherein if one network cannot meet the needs of a credit union, then it can connect with other networks, and so on. Is this something you will champion, as well? Or do you have your own ideas for the future of CUSOs?

Antonini: Yes, CUSOs V. 3.0 makes sense to me. It is the next natural progression of finding innovative networked business solutions that help credit unions serve their members better and provide a better product value.

If we pull together and leverage the power of the credit union industry's membership, we can build a significant competitive advantage over the banks against whom we compete-and where I worked for more than 20 years, so I understand the banking industry and its focus-and provide a future full of growth and satisfied members.

I am excited about the potential of what we can do together utilizing NACUSO's existing partners, and I think there is a tremendous opportunity to win the support of many more credit unions across the country if we can start to deliver on improving the retention and profitability of their members through winning a greater share of wallet of existing members.

Also, we should be helping bank customers-who have not given much thought to joining a credit union-to understand the benefits of belonging to a credit union focused on providing outstanding service and recognized product value, especially through lower costs by leveraging the CUSO model to help keep costs low by sharing infrastructure expenses. For most bank customers, who are sick and tired of the excessive fees of banks and generally don't trust them, realizing that they can join a credit union and have their personal financial needs fully met would be a relief and welcome news. I want to help the industry convey that message.

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