PHOENIX -- A robust 2007 for Credit Union Financial Network has set the stage for the investments, trust services and insurance CUSO to expand even further in 2008.
CUFN, which will mark its third anniversary in January, recently signed on four more credit unions--Canyon State CU, Tempe Schools CU, Piedmont FCU and Pyramid CU--for a total of 12 clients. Five staffers and 18 financial advisors now serve members at Arizona credit unions. The CUSO is taking a controlled approach to growing and is coming off a 65% growth rate in 2006 and an expected 100% rate this year, said Mike Prior, president/CEO of CUFN.
"We've had amazing growth. We made a concerted effort to slow down," Prior said. "We were so busy; we waited 10 months before adding the last two credit unions."
To help facilitate that growth, CUFN has hired an executive, who will start in January, to oversee compliance and business development. All 18 of the financial advisors underwent training this summer to earn Certified Financial Planner and other similar designations, Prior said.
The CUSO also plans to roll out its "Financial Planning...Your Way" program in early 2008. Prior said the new venture allows members some flexibility with payment structure. They have the option of paying a fee and CUFN will put together a financial plan and also choosing to do business with another investment firm. Prior said he doesn't agree with some who advise members not to link up with advisors who work on
"People are different. Some people prefer to write a check but there are a lot of people who would never do that," Prior said. "As independent broker-dealers, we go shopping for the client. We don't care how they pay. They should have those options."
CUFN is also aiming to build its trust services alliance Phoenix-based AST Trust Co. The CUSO's credit unions are able to negotiate discounts with independent estate planning attorneys, certified public accounts and trust companies that do not have proprietary products to sell, Prior said. Complimentary trust reviews and co-trustee arrangements will also be available to members. AST Trust has agreed to help members who have a minimum of $250,000 in assets.
Meanwhile, Prior said the CUSO still considers Arizona its top priority but expanding beyond the state hasn't been ruled out.
"By design, we take care of our own back yard," Prior. "If we have the right people in place, we would consider expanding to other parts of the country."