CUSO guru reflects on his career as he announces his retirement
NEWPORT BEACH, CA (July 8, 2020) — Over the past thirty-five years, I have served credit unions and CUSOs in several capacities, including lawyer, consultant, presenter, mentor, regulatory advocate and CUSO board member. Effective January 1, 2021, I am retiring from the practice of law. I will retain my association with Messick Lauer & Smith (www.cusolaw.com) in an emeritus capacity. I will be available to the firm as an internal advisor. I will not represent clients. The firm, under the leadership of Brian Lauer and Amanda Smith, will continue to provide the high level of legal services that our clients have come to rely upon and expect.
While retiring from the practice of law, I am not retiring from my connection to the credit union world. I serve on the boards of three CUSOs, Ministry Partners Investment Company, LLC, United Solutions, Inc, and The Credit Union Network for Financial Literacy. Ministry Partners is an investment banking, financial advisory, broker-dealer and insurance advisory CUSO that primarily serves evangelical Christian churches and ministries throughout the United States. United Solutions provides IT centric support services to credit unions across all platforms (core, mobile, and network). The Credit Union Network for Financial Literacy teaches children about credit unions and financial literacy using the Berenstain Bears books. I am also an advisor to Bankable Fintech, an organization that helps financial institutions connect with fintech companies that meet their service needs.
In 1987, I was appointed the first General Counsel of the National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations (www.nacuso.org ). In that role, I advocated with NCUA and state regulators to help shape the regulatory climate for credit unions and CUSOs. In my legal practice, I advised credit unions structuring collaborations through CUSOs.
After many years of serving as Assistant General Counsel to NACUSO, Brian Lauer will be appointed General Counsel. Brian is the author of the book, CUSOs (available on Amazon), which provides an introduction of the value of CUSOs to the credit union industry. My role at NACUSO will transition to an advisor. I will continue to provide educational content.
My career involved a lot of presentations. American Airlines made me a member of their Million Miler club. By my estimate, I made over 250 presentations to credit union and CUSO boards and attendees at conferences sponsored by every major credit union trade association, several state leagues, NCUA, Credit Union Central of Ontario, and a fraternal insurance trade association. My most notable presentations were at the University of Cork in Ireland where I taught Irish credit unions about the CUSO experience in the United States. I am humbled by the honor of being named one of three original CUSO Pioneers in America’s Credit Union Museum in Manchester New Hampshire (Dave Serlo and Sarah Capena Bang are the other honorees).
My experience gave me a window into how to structure successful credit union collaborations. The lessons learned can also be applied to collaborations between other cooperative organizations. To share that knowledge, I wrote a book entitled Credit Union Collaborations – Lessons Learned (available on Amazon).
When I first became involved in CUSOs, they were primarily used to enable credit unions to offer investment and insurance services. I became knowledgeable about how credit unions and broker/dealers structure networking arrangements. I served on CUNA’s Investment Services Committee which worked with the Securities and Exchange Commission to transition the investment programs from CUSOs to credit unions. I share my knowledge in The Guide for Credit Unions Providing Investment and Insurance Services (also available on Amazon).
NACUSO’s Corporate Events Director, Shawna Luna, gave me the nickname “CUSO Guru” many years ago. It seemed to catch on as I was always identified as the CUSO “guy.” I now have the white hair to reflect the brand.
The reason I focused my practice on credit unions is that I believe in the mission of credit unions. Credit unions are too valuable to their members and this country to lose. The power of collaboration is a tool that will enable credit unions to be competitive and remain relevant in today’s world. As the number of credit unions decrease, the number of CUSOs increase. This is not a coincidence. The data shows that CUSOs enhance the financial performance of credit unions. The majority of the merging credit unions did not use CUSOs.
My generation is in the process of passing the torch to the next generation. CUSOs will provide the fuel to keep the credit union flame burning bright.
I am grateful that circumstances led me to credit unions. I have been blessed with the opportunity to contribute to the success of credit unions in partnership with bright, innovative, and talented credit union colleagues. I have made life-long friends. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of the credit union journey.
Guy A. Messick
NACUSO (National Association of Credit Union Service Organizations) was formed in 1985 to help credit unions explore the use of CUSOs and the delivery of non-traditional products and services. Over the years, NACUSO’s focus has evolved to educating credit unions on the benefits of collaboration, helping credit unions find innovative collaborative partners & solutions, helping CUs form multi-owned CUSOs that help credit unions achieve economies of scale, risk reduction and obtain expertise, as well as being the collaboration focused regulatory & legislative advocate for CUSOs and their credit union owners.