COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- In the face of conversion "rhetoric," CO-OP Financial Services is committed to retaining its strong credit union character as it pursues further signups with ATM/electronic funds processing groups, a number of which are league-sponsored, according to CO-OP Chairman David Maus of Denver.
"We remain credit union centric," declared Maus in a speech at the annual shareholders meeting of the network last week in which he reaffirmed the CUSO's revised by-laws barring CUs that convert to mutual savings banks from earning dividends or voting.
Once an MSB converts to stock, they are kicked out of CO-OP, said Maus, who also is president/CEO of Public Service Credit Union.
The CO-OP chairman also said the CUSO is intent on extending its reach with a handful of other CU groups, some in CUSOs involved in the card/debit/ATM field following up on a 51% buyout this year of Atlanta-based Credit Union Service Corp.
That agreement first announced in January is to be finalized within a week, officials said.
Meanwhile, CO-OP said it would continue trying to interest other networks to sign affiliations or agreements with the Ontario, Calif.-based CUSO similar to deals with Encore Electronic Service Coop of Falls Church, Va. and the New Mexico-based CU Anytime network.
Although there are no talks now with a shared branch competitor, Financial Service Centers Cooperative, with headquarters in San Dimas, Calif., not far from CO-OP's home base in Ontario, Maus said it has long remained an anomaly to have two CU firms operating in similar venues. Thus, closer ties remain desirable, he said.
Sarah Canepa Bang, the president/CEO of FSCC who was here for the CO-OP meeting, has long said the networks compete though its operation including its 7-Eleven shared branch units remain "more sophisticated" than the CO-OP ATMs. Bang was not immediately available to comment on any new CO-OP overtures
Nonetheless, CO-OP officials in both their formal and private remarks stressed the need for CO-OP to be an "aggregator" of volume as a means to reduce costs and provide efficiency for participating CUs.
In another area of expansion, CO-OP said that during the fourth quarter it will be debuting contactless and reloadable prepayment cards as another added service on ATMs and point of sale.
As it did a year ago, the CO-OP leadership denigrated CUs that patronize bank-run systems except in special cases and top officials also criticized vendors that fail to fully support the movement.
"They earn a living off of credit unions and don't give back," said Stan Hollen, the president/CEO, in a refrain sounded more than a year ago at CO-OP's 2006 meeting. "There are vendors who really need to step up to the plate," Hollen told the audience assembled at the Broadmoor Hotel resort.
One of the highlights of the three-day CO-OP conference here was a speech by management guru and best selling author Tom Peters of Boston who called on CU executives to recognize the emerging importance of women in top management jobs in corporations and the public sector drawing laughs on his suggestion that "for 10,000 years men have run everything" but their time is up.
Peters, author of In Search of Excellence and more than a dozen other books on exploring management expertise, said CUs like other firms need to recognize emotional and practical needs of both consumers and their employees in their operations.
For example, in addition to a chief financial officer, corporations ought to have a "chief revenue officer" whose job it is to watch over sales and income and another needs to be a "chief dream merchant" who keys in to customer needs or a "chief experience officer" who also understands consumer motivation.