Bethpage CUSO Project Manager Izzo Says Adding Value Key to Relationships
A staffer at the $2.9 billion credit union since 2001, Izzo brought her marketing, finance and business communications experience to the newly-created role that she's served in over the past year. Izzo works closely with Michele Dean, senior vice president of lending/chief operating officer, CUSO operations, assisting with the creation of budgets. All CUSO requests to do business go through Dean. As Bethpage has grown over the past few years, management determined that they needed someone full time to serve as a liaison between the credit unions and CUSOs.
"I believe my role is an efficient way to handle CUSOs. They never really had my full attention over the past seven years," Izzo said. "It didn't have the roundness that I now have with them. I like being able to get more involved in the day-to-day business."
Bethpage has a wholly owned CUSO in addition to ownership in title, settlement, technology and research product and services CUSOs. The defining factor in whether the credit union will establish a relationship with a CUSO is if value is added to members' lives, Izzo said. Be it a service, product or opportunity to save expenses, Izzo does the due diligence research to pinpoint that value.
Half of her responsibilities cover managing the CUSO operations, including spotting areas to streamline and cutting costs while working with various departments to make sure everyone is on the same page. The other half involves seeking out new CUSO relationships. Izzo attends several key conferences including NACUSO and Bank Insurance and Securities Association meetings and participates in a number of networking calls. All of the interaction helps when it comes time to gather research on potential partners.
For instance, when Bethpage began its search for a titling company, the process took roughly two months, Izzo said. On the other hand, building a titling company from scratch would understandably take more time and require additional expertise. Regardless of the route, Izzo said the credit union is fortunate to have partners that help make the interaction with members seamless. Free flowing communication and time management are essential.
"A lot of the day-to-day functions are time sensitive. A call can last from two minutes to two hours," Izzo said.
That's where the reliance on e-mail comes in. Izzo is constantly reviewing the litany of messages coming as she juggles four to five projects, all of which have strict deadlines. She said she has an impeccably organized desk which helps when assigning dates to her multiple projects. In the middle of her juggling act, she's networking and meeting with management from other departments serving as a facilitator and making sure there are not any issues or fires to put out.
If there are concerns, Izzo will bring it to the attention of the appropriate person. A plan is created to address the issue and provide a solution. "Sometimes, that doesn't work," she acknowledged. Although she is an e-mail guru, Izzo believes that having face time is important in dealing with contentious matters. If the solutions don't provide the right remedy, a meeting is called with all affected persons. Sometimes Izzo will attend and other times, her presence is not required.
"We make sure it gets resolved. We have a great team. Our CUSOs and credit union members respect each other," Izzo said. "Even if there is an issue, we work hard to resolve it."
To keep communications flowing, Bethpage is always searching for ways to better its CUSO management system. The bottom line is in sync with the credit union's vision "to provide extraordinary service anytime or anywhere," Izzo said. That mantra permeates throughout Bethpage as well as to all CUSOs. At first, there was some hesitation on the CUSO end to embrace that goal. Now, it's not a surprise when a CUSO staffer will accommodate a member with a closing off site.
"We were asking them to adopt a culture that they weren't used to," Izzo explained. "We wanted them go above and beyond what the credit union staff does. Over the past six months, they have met that challenge."
Bethpage's senior management has worked hard to create the inclusive tone.
"Everyone has the same goal and that's to help the member. I love my job because it's so diverse. I'm not the type of person who enjoys doing one task all day. I like meeting people and that gives me insight into the credit union's future and where it wants to go."