Mid-Atlantic CUSO Revamp Aims for Reg Relief
When Mid-Atlantic Corporate Federal Credit Union conducted a survey in early 2013 among its credit union partners to find out where their most pressing concerns were, compliance and security topped the list.
The feedback was the first driver of the debut of a new CUSO that would provide risk management products and services, said Jay Murray, president/CEO of the $2.44 billon corporate in Middletown, Pa.
Sollievo, which revealed its revamped unveiling in February, will offer enterprise risk monitoring including vendor management, audit and exam findings manager and an allowance, loan, lease, loss module. The CUSO's offerings will also include information security services such as information security risk assessments, incident response planning and network security services. In addition, the CUSO will assist credit unions with business continuity plans and training and consulting services.
Lori Gall will head Sollievo as its president/CEO. The 27-year credit union industry veteran will continue in her roles as senior vice president of administration, compliance officer and security officer at Mid-Atlantic Corporate.
“Sollievo is an Italian word that means ‘relief,’” said Gall. “We hear from credit unions every day about their struggle to keep up with regulatory demands. Our mission is to provide peace of mind and help them meet compliance obligations and improve the overall risk posture of their credit union.”
The CUSO is actually a reincarnated model that was initially launched in 2008 to offer benefit and insurance services, said Gall. However, when the corporate credit union crisis hit, the model wasn't strong enough to sustain itself, she added. The good news was the initial investment by Mid-Atlantic, Sollievo's owner, into getting the revamped entity up and running, the brand and trademark was already completed.
“The model itself is different. We’re taking an existing cost structure and moving it into the CUSO model,” Murray explained. “Mid-Atlantic is already funding the cost of the people. We gave it enough capital that it had all it needed for day to day operations.”
Gall said there is a need to partner with strong solution providers. On April 1, Sollievo did just that when it linked up with Philadelphia-based Strohl Risk Solutions, formerly FI Compliance Solutions, a provider of risk management services for financial institutions. The agreement allows Sollievo to offer the company's ERM 365 software to its credit union clients.
ERM 365 is a web-based risk management application that allows institutions to monitor risk through interactive dashboards, email alerts and notifications, according to Mid-Atlantic. The modules included in the ERM software include those to manage exam and audit findings, perform and document allowance for loan and lease losses computations, keep up-to-date with regulatory changes and track vendor requirements including risk ratings, contracts, expiration dates, incident reports, request for proposals, and vendor due diligence.
Sollievo will start out serving credit unions in the Mid-Atlantic region states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and the District of Columbia, said Gall. The corporate counts more than 800 credit unions as well as CUSOs and leagues as its clients. Murray said Gall was the ideal candidate to lead Sollievo given her 27 years of extensive compliance experience at Mid-Atlantic. She has also served as the corporate's liaison to the NCUA, auditors and other examiners, he noted. Gall said she doesn't think it will be more difficult to juggle her multiples roles but rather, a unique transition.
“We’re looking at using a lot of the relationships built over the years,” said Gall. “The group that we have (at Sollievo) has reported to me for years.”
Including Gall, Sollievo employs five staffers who have nearly 90 years of combined credit union experience, as well industry certifications such as certified information security professional, enterprise risk management expert and business continuity professional.
Over the next couple of months, Sollievo is set to announce other partnerships and for the rest of 2014, the CUSO is also exploring a fraud management system and bond, insurance and risk assessment services, said Gall. At the end of April, Sollievo will debut its Take Two videos on its website. The two-minute sessions will focus on risk management. Weekly articles will also be posted.
Feedback from Mid-Atlantic's clients has helped the corporate to meet their needs. Murray went back to October 2010 when a group gathered for the Rekindling of the Cooperative Spirit meeting. The goal was to bring credit unions together that trust each other, find common ground and collaborate, he recalled. That inaugural assembly led to the Rekindle groups that currently meet several times a year. Murray had just attended one in Philadelphia.
“We’re trying to find things that work. We call this the ‘Rekindle’ movement. It's about trusting each other and collaborating, especially among the small and midsize credit unions.”