Rochdale Hosts First Focus Group

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The two principals behind the Rochdale Group, which recently acquired consulting firm Counter Intelligence Associates from MembersAmerica Credit Union, where it had been a CUSO, hosted a focus group of CEOs during CUNA's GAC to get a firmer handle on what CUs want from the company.

"The focus group gave us a strategic perspective, an operational perspective and a regulatory perspective," said George Towle, one of the principals. "We want to fit our business model to their needs. We called it the Rochdale Group because it is truly based on the Rochdale principals of collaboration and cooperation. Some people say there is a lot of pressure on cooperation and collaboration, but we truly believe that's the future of credit unions."

Rochdale, England is home to a 19th century food co-op that became one of the early models for credit unions.

Dan Kampen, the former CEO at U.S. Central Credit Union, is the other principal of the firm. "Yes, we do know the issues, but the focus group helps us to refine the issues," he told The Credit Union Journal. It will help us to stay on top of clients."

Added Towle, "If you ask credit unions what they want, believe me, they will tell you. We want to combine the technical expertise of our staff with the collaborative nature of credit unions."

And what are credit unions asking for? Kampen said it's no surprise. "Because of tighter margins everyone is talking about how to be more efficient," said Kampen. "The yield curve is as compressed as I've seen in 20 years."

According to Towle, the focus groups developed approximately 25 categories of interest, divided as Product & Services, Operations & Regulations, and Strategy. Among the specific concerns were collaboration between CUs and CUSOs, changing member demographics, differentiating CUs from competitors, risk management of technology, lack of innovation, finding partners to perform due diligence, focus on member value, and more.

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