2019 CU Visionary Conference hosted by CU*SOUTH

FAIRHOPE, AL (April 18, 2019) — “Where Will We CU in 10 Years?” was the primary theme this week as credit union CEOs, senior managers, board members, and CUSO partners met at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Alabama, for the 2019 CU*SOUTH Visionary Conference and Annual Meeting.

“Our industry is challenged to keep up with a culture of immediate technical advances, but what stays constant is our community,” says CU*SOUTH CEO Leo Vaulin. “That community is defined by the millions of members served by these credit unions in our CUSO network. In the next decade, we see opportunity for credit unions as a sort of economic town square, where service, collaboration, and entrepreneurship cross paths for the betterment of both individual and shared financial health.”

The conference focused on 10 key initiatives, particularly highlighting community investment, the development of shared member space to foster entrepreneurial growth, and creating member-facing teams to engage and support members in credit union initiatives for member opportunities in business, as well as affordable housing models.

  1. Investment in community. How to use the strength of your connection to with your community (either geographic or SEG) as your fundamental competitive advantage – buy local, finance local, serve local – and partner local. Examples included using data analytics tools such as Where Members Shop to identify favorite local stores, and partner with them on special promotions or rewards, or featuring point-of-purchase lending to strengthen connections with community merchants, drive loan growth, and attract new members.
  2. Investment in brand identity. Understanding what makes your credit union unique and communicating this advantage to members who are faced with increasing demands on their attention, especially when so many other players in the financial services space try to win by commoditizing their value proposition.
  3. Investment in your digital presence. Creating data-driven, repeatable experiences where members feel true affiliation with us, and offering a level of support and advocacy for their interests than no other FI could provide.
  4. Investment in your branch as a shared community space for your owners. An interview with former Umpqua Bank mortgage manager Jessica Nugent, as well as excepts from the Underground Collision presentation from Jenn Oliver, CEO of South Bay CU, focused on the transformation of branches into open community spaces, including Apple-inspired “genius bars” and a Starbucks-style meeting space with free wi-fi, coffee and snacks, and featuring weekly displays by local merchants.
  5. Investment in data. The conference included workshops on using the KYM tools integrated with the CU*BASE core to gain deeper understanding into member segments – how each segment contributed to the cooperative, and how to best reach each segment. A powerful example was the rise of character-driven loans, based less on credit bureau data and more on the history of the member with their credit union.
  6. Investment in fintech opportunities. An interview with Vic Pantea, CEO of Variable Ventures, and Variable Ventures Board Chair Leo Vaulin offered insights into how to decrease the risk of investment in fintechs, while increasing the investment returns, through the network community “wisdom of crowds” approach of the Variable Ventures model. Exciting opportunities included a unique model for affordable housing, converting renters to owners; as well as geolocation apps for increasing contact points between members and their CU, as well as CU-affiliated businesses.
  7. Investment in the member-facing experience. The evolution of open-branches and “pop-up” branches provides the opportunity to re-invent the MSR/universal employee toolset, including the the development of multiple teller platforms, including tablet designs, as well as automated teller kiosks.
  8. Investment in developing management teams and skills. The development of “universal” employees empowered to address a broad spectrum of member needs was reinforced with a breakout session on education, presented by CU*SOUTH’s Board Chair, Rick Preble, CEO of RVA Financial. CU*SOUTH’s COO Derrick Smith discussed the “department as profit center” model, engaging entrepreneurs at all levels of the organization, and the cloud-based platform CU*SOUTH has been developing to support Collaborative Service sharing across the CU community.
  9. Investment in developing your Board. The conference included presentations focused on Board and Supervisory Committee members, including compliance (with on-site BSA Certification) as well as capital management in an inverted yield curve economy. The importance of easy access to a CU’s performance metrics through real-time graphical presentation tools by Directors and other stakeholders was demonstrated in the General Sessions.
  10. Investment in networks. Rounding out the theme of the conference, the importance of building a network of peers and collaborators was explored by the Visionary participants. The opportunity to build networks of opportunity around strategic initiatives, such as investment, disaster recovery, vendor management, back office, and collections, was featured in the General Session and many breakouts.

“The conference was very informative,” says Tina Plante, CEO of Southern Gas FCU in Little Rock. “It was not like any other conference that I have attended. I was impressed by the amount of forethought that Leo and the team put into the future products and services. It was so refreshing to hear a CUSO that wanted our thoughts and input on the products AND THEN actually did something to make it happen!!! Plus, knowing that the things we haven’t had time to think about yet, your team is already thinking and planning on how to incorporate them into the core or providing us with another venue. The new updates to the core are very exciting. I was really intrigued by the ‘outside the box thinking’ about fintech ventures. This just confirmed that we made the right choice when we selected CU*SOUTH as our partner.”

The Visionary Conference is an annual event for members and network partners of CU*SOUTH. Attendance is not limited to core clients of CU*SOUTH. To learn how to join the CU*SOUTH community, please visit

About CU*South

CU*SOUTH is a credit union-owned cooperative focused on building a network of successful credit unions. CU*SOUTH offers a wide variety of services including the Tier-1 CU*BASE® processing system offered in both online (ASP) and in-house processing environments, as well as a fully integrated online and mobile banking solution. CU*SOUTH also provides a variety of managed services through its CUSO@Work division, as well as through collaborative partnerships with other CUSOs in the rapidly-growing network—CU*Answers, CU*NorthWest, eDOC Innovations, Xtend, and Site-Four. Managed services allow credit unions to outsource tasks at a fraction of the cost of a full-time specialist—accounting, collections, compliance, lending, marketing, call center, web design. As a partner of the network, CU*SOUTH provides a comprehensive offering of information technology tools and services through a collaborative, shared ownership model, with the same great value credit unions offer members. For more information, visit


Amy Herbig, Chief Marketing Officer

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