Paul Gentile's July 12 Editor's Column--"It's Time to Bring Consolidation Out into the Open"--hits on something many of us in the credit union community know first-hand: Throughout our history, credit unions have experienced success through collaborative efforts. Consider the value that credit unions gain from the corporate credit union network, Payment Systems for Credit Unions, and CO-OP Financial Services. As a movement, we have repeatedly found greater strength when working together.
Gentile correctly points out that there are significant, bottom-line differences between the majority of today's smaller and larger credit unions. And for many smaller credit unions, merging is becoming a more common, more favorable option that can offer many benefits. In our credit union consulting practice, we have assisted many credit unions with mergers that have resulted in "win-wins" for both organizations and, even more importantly, for their members. A more diverse employee base, wider range of services, potential of more branch locations and ATMs, and a stronger bottom line are just a few. While combining isn't always the best choice, a merger that is well managed and carefully thought out can offer credit unions greater strength through collaborative efforts. That's because when done right, everyone wins--especially the members.
On the other side of the coin, there are times when collaboration makes more sense than consolidation. The operational efficiencies and cost effectiveness of sharing backroom or frontline functions can present a compelling argument for the formation of multi-credit union-owned CUSOs.
We have assisted more than 100 credit unions in developing CUSOs to share resources, resulting in an estimated combined $25 million in first-year savings. This is an option that should be considered, along with merging.
There's no doubt that credit unions, particularly those in the small- to mid-sized range, must be creative to remain successful and competitive in the rapidly changing financial services industry.
Combining forces, whether by merger or collaborative efforts, is often a very good thing. Dan Kampen President/CEO The Rochdale Group, Inc.