The landmark Statue of Liberty against the impressive New York City skyline.
New York, New York
Credit union employees from across the country have gathered in New York this week for CO-OP Financial Services' THINK Conference. Here's a look at some of the insights from throughout the confab.
CO-OP Financial Services' executive team. From left: Shazia Manus, chief product and strategy officer; Nick Cancanes, chief information officer; Todd Clark, president/CEO; Samantha Paxson, chief marketing and experience officer at CO-OP's THINK 17 conference in New York.
The future of CO-OP
Day two of the conference featured a panel of senior executives from CO-OP (from left: Shazia Manus, chief product and strategy officer; Nick Cancanes, chief information officer; Todd Clark, president/CEO; Samantha Paxson, chief marketing and experience officer) discussing the firm’s integration with the recently acquired TMG.

Nick Cancanes, chief information officer at CO-OP, said the company seeks to become a world-class technology service provider for all credit unions. Shazia Manus, CO-OP’s chief product and strategy officer (and former CEO of TMG) said integrating the two companies will generate more opportunities for the acquirer, while also increasing its agility and resiliency. All of that is against the background of continued investment, as President & CEO Todd Clark said the company plans to invest some $25 million in technology this year, with emphasis being placed upon analytical tools and fighting fraud.
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Mark Meyer
During a separate panel discussion, Filene Research Institute CEO Mark Meyer Mark Meyer suggested technology has advanced so much in recent years at financial institutions that credit unions must now focus on both “user experience” as well as “member experience.” Credit unions must make online activities quick, easy and frictionless, he added.
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Tony Hildesheim
Co-panelist Tony Hildesheim, SVP and CIO at Redwood Credit Union, Santa Rosa, Calif., said “member experience” must be improved across the board at credit unions. The service that members receive, he added, should be meaningful, consistent and “positive.”
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Oswald Mason
Another panelist, Oswald Mason, operations card services manager at Idaho Central Credit Union, Chubbuck, Idaho, suggested that credit unions should establish institutional cultures that prioritize member experience – make sure members come first, identify “frictions,” listen to ideas from everyone, solve any problems and innovate.
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Stephen Bohanon
Finally, Stephen Bohanon, chief strategy & sales officer at Alkami Technology, said credit unions should teach reluctant members how to use online/mobile technology so that one day they are less reliant on visiting the branch (since at some point in the near future, such brick-and-mortar branches may no longer exist).
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Anti-fraud panel
A group of security experts discussed how credit unions can fight against fraud and identity theft on the third day of the conference. From left to right: Paul Love, chief information security officer at CO-OP; John Buzzard, ‎payment industry fraud specialist & account executive at CO-OP; Pedro Bizarro, chief scientific officer at Feedzai S.A.; Chris Sibila, EVP-payments and technology at Elements Financial FCU, Indianapolis; and Tracy Kitten, executive editor, BankInfoSecurity and CUInfoSecurity.
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Chris Sibila
Chris Sibila, EVP-payments and technology at Elements Financial FCU, Indianapolis, said the “underground market” on fraud and security theft isn’t going away anytime soon and that breaches will likely continue. Consequently, credit unions will need to tighten security and upgrade monitoring to “keep ahead of the game.” As a way to better fight fraud, Sibila said his credit union has hired a dedicated fraud manager whose job is to detect and prevent fraud across all segments of the company and also to teach members how to identify and prevent fraudulent acts via blogs, websites, emails and more.
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John Buzzard
John Buzzard, payment industry fraud specialist & account executive at CO-OP, warned that as financial institutions are gradually transforming into all digital platforms, so too have the fraudsters and criminals. Hence, it will be crucial and a challenge for CUs to always keep several steps ahead of the bad guys.

But even as more and more industries move rapidly toward digital technologies, Buzzard said he does not expect to see a “cashless society” anytime soon. He also said he is not optimistic about the use of blockchain technology in financial transactions within the next five years.
Todd Clark, CEO of CO-OP Financial Services; Laura Thompson, SVP and CIO of Orange County's CU; and author and entrepreneur Jason Vittuga spoke on a panel at CO-OP's THINK 17 conference in New York. Personal finance author Helaine Olen (not pictured) was also on the panel.
Debunking credit union myths
Elsewhere during the conference, a group of credit union insiders and analysts offered a look at some of the biggest misconceptions surrounding the movement and how CUs can help members (and themselves) move past them. For more, click here.