Patrick Conway, named the new president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Credit Union Association on Sept. 18, told Credit Union Times he has a lot to learn about the credit union industry. However, he said he already intends to take PCUA’s priorities—advocacy, compliance and member services—to the next level.
While the new 48-year-old chief of one of the nation’s largest credit union trade associations said the PCUA’s staff and board of directors do a terrific job, he wants to build on that success.
“I think the credit union industry is such a great industry but it is facing a lot of challenges—economic uncertainty, legislative threats and an increasingly burdensome regulatory environment,” Conway said. “I think our political advocacy, our legislative work and our regulatory advocacy are more important than ever before.”
Certainly, Conway has the experience to enhance PCUA salient advocacy initiatives.
For the past 12 years, he served at president/CEO of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association. Prior to that, he worked as president/CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and the Chamber of Business and Industry of Centre County.
He also has experience on the federal level. Conway began his career in the district office of former Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Clinger, served as executive director of the Governor’s Action Team under Governor Tom Ridge, who also served as the nation’s first Secretary of Homeland Security.
“I think one of the key things, at least at this early stage as the new CEO, would be to engage our (advocacy) grassroots, and I think we do that very well currently,” Conway said. “But I think there are opportunities to do that even better, so we can continue to educate regulatory officials and lawmakers both at the state and federal level about the importance of the credit union industry. Obviously, maintaining the federal tax exemption is our critical No. 1 federal priority. But I think just having a high profile in getting the industry to support the association’s efforts to when it comes to regulatory and legislative advocacy will really be a top priority for me moving forward.”
A second top priority for Conway will be to help credit unions meet their compliance mandates by continuing to deliver and enhance resources, information and guidance for all credit unions, which he believes the PCUA is doing very well.
“It really is our key challenge,” he said. “When you look at Dodd Frank and look at the increasing regulatory requirements that our industry faces, we are going to have to get even better and build upon that (PCUA) success.”
Equally important, Conway said, is to provide member value by looking closely at the inventory of PCUA’s products and services, making sure they are meeting the needs of members and to demonstrate that value to credit unions that may not be members today.
Seventy-eight percent of Pennsylvania’s 504 credit unions are PCUA members. Conway said he is very impressed with that affiliation rate considering that the member affiliation rate for the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association is about 20%.
Conway said his third priority would be to reach a 100% affiliation rate.
“I think we are going to do that by demonstrating our value and ensure that we are offering programs and services that are needed that can help credit unions operate more efficiently and bring value to their own businesses,” he said.
Conway will join PCUA Oct. 28 and will work with PCUA President/CEO Jim McCormack, who will retire at the end of the year after 32 years of service. McCormack will serve as a consultant to the league through November 2014.