Wis. League Creates Director of Small CU Development

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As part of its effort to give small credit unions more focused attention, The Wisconsin Credit Union League has created a new position-director of credit union development.

At the helm of the new position is Leslie Latsch, former senior league consultant who oversaw a project in 2002 to prioritize the needs of CUs with assets under $10 million via listening sessions held across the state.

Among their top priorities, she said, was to have a specific league contact to act as their advocate and assist with their special needs.

"I've been that person for so long," Latsch said. "This just formalized it."

Latsch said her responsibilities would include teaching small CUs about areas that will include succession planning, loan participations, and funds management.

"I may not be the one to ultimately resolve all of their issues, but I will be able to direct them to someone who can," she said. "I like to think of myself as the gardener, the nurturer. (League CEO) Brett Thompson calls me the coach."

Whatever title she gets, Latsch said she couldn't be happier.

"If I could have picked the perfect career with all of my experienced being used, this would be it," she said. "It's the perfect fit."

Latsch said some 55% to 60% of the 312 CUs in Wisconsin have assets under $10 million.

"And unfortunately, those numbers are shrinking," she said. "My job is to make that shrinkage as minimal as possible."

Among her techniques, she said, is tough love. "When people call and ask, 'Can we survive?' I tell them, 'The only thing holding you back is you.'"

Latsch has worked in the financial industry for 22 years, 16 of them with credit unions.

"I'm second generation. My father worked with the Credit Union National Association so I just grew up with them," she proudly added. "In my mind, there was no other way."

Other results of last year's listening sessions include the devotion of one newsletter page every issue to small CUs, providing resources and links for small CUs on the league website, recruiting more than 100 CU employees and volunteers to assist other CUs, the creation of an e-mail forum and offering new scholarships.

"We are confident that these are all steps in the right direction to help make smaller credit unions, as well as the credit union movement in Wisconsin, more successful in the years ahead," said WCUL President/CEO Brett Thompson in a letter to CUs, urging small CUs to take advantage of the new opportunities.

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