Thriving in Today’s Economy Means Embracing CU Members

Jess Noelck

Rick Uhlmann

CUNA Mutual Discovery Session Provides ACUC Audience with Insights from Two Credit Unions’ Success Stories

SAN DIEGO – In order to thrive in today’s economy, credit unions need to develop their sales culture to be member-centric. A panel of credit union leaders told an America’s Credit Union Conference (ACUC) Discovery breakout session audience today that credit unions must work harder to meet the needs of current and future members.

John Cassidy, president and CEO, Sierra Central Credit Union of Yuba City, California, and Dan Sutton, COO, Kemba Credit Union of Cincinnati, Ohio, engaged ACUC session attendees in a conversation about applying best practice strategies to achieve above average financial results in a constantly changing environment by sharing their experiences with Sierra Central Credit Union and Kemba Credit Union. Bob Larson, financial support consult, CUNA Mutual Group, facilitated the discussion.

Cassidy said, “You will do better in today’s economy by focusing on what you can control, not on what you can’t control.” Cassidy further explained, “Understand your credit union’s strengths and weaknesses and the market’s strengths and weaknesses then develop a strategic plan keeping that information in mind and stay focused.”

Cassidy warned that credit unions must avoid reacting from one news event to the next. It’s important to transition from a “worst case scenario” mindset to a positive one, Cassidy added. “Achieving balanced financial performance requires: focus, communication, and efficiency,” Cassidy said.

Sutton echoed Cassidy’s words. “You must stay disciplined to your strategy. Do not get greedy. Follow your strategic plan and stay the course,” Sutton said. Keep in mind; you’re dealing with the members’ money, Sutton added.

Striving to be efficient should always be top of mind during a difficult economy, but be careful to cut the right expenses. “Having the right people in the right job can make all of the difference in the world,” Sutton said.

“And don’t forget to tell your credit union’s story,” Sutton said. “One of the keys to our success was adjusting our sales culture to tell ‘the Kemba Credit Union story’ and then living it by being a member-centric organization.” This change allowed the credit union to increase services per member.

Cassidy and Sutton agreed that in order to have a balanced financial performance you must show up on time, give 100 percent and have fun. “Doing these things combined with a positive outlook and understanding what you can control will do more for your credit union than focusing on worse-case scenarios,” said Sutton.

Larson wrapped up the session by recommending attendees read CUNA Mutual’s latest “Credit Union Trends Report” to stay on top of the challenges facing credit unions today.

CUNA Mutual Group insurance, retirement and investment products provide financial security and protection to credit unions and their members worldwide. With more than 75 years of true market commitment, CUNA Mutual Group’s vision is unwavering: To be a trusted business partner who delivers service excellence through customer-focused products and market-driven insight. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at

CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Life, accident, health and annuity insurance products are issued by CMFG Life Insurance Company. Property and casualty insurance products are issued by CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc. Each insurer is solely responsible for the financial obligations under the policies and contracts it issues. Corporate headquarters are located in Madison, Wis.

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