Mazuma Adds, Subtracts, Revamps CUSOs
In July, CU Holding Co.'s Beyond Marketing CUSO changed its name to BYM Agency and launched a new website to reflect the new way it serves credit unions.
Two years after Larry Hayes took the helm of an entity overseeing several CUSOs, a few key changes are poised to shift how its credit union clients are served.
Hayes is president/CEO of CU Holding Co., a Lenexa, Kan., firm that manages the strategic direction of XtraCash LLC, SimpliFast LLC, InsureKC LLC, MemberInsure LLC, TruHome Solutions, TruHome Title Solutions and MEMBERS Development Co.
Established in 2003, the holding company, a wholly owned subsidiary of the $490 million Mazuma Credit Union in Kansas City, Mo., also guides Beyond Marketing LLC, which announced a brand revamp and name change July 28.
The CUSO is now known as BYM Agency.
Along with the new moniker, the marketing firm said it decided to take a page from its own book during its rebrand to reflect the ‘why’ behind everything it does. Essentially, the agency has chosen to focus on the qualities that differentiate credit unions and CUSOs from its competitors. A new website that can be viewed on any mobile device is designed to support credit union marketers by sharing best practices for unleashing marketing potential.
“We looked at the clients’ needs, wants and expectations,” Hayes explained. “In order to be creative and innovative, you have to be able to look down the road. Before, we were operating in the now. Now, we look 18 months, three years down the road.”
Preliminary discussions to reshape BYM started after Hayes came aboard in July 2012, said Kat Anstine, agency director at BYM who has been with the CUSO for the past three years. One of the goals was to update the overall brand to reflect the current team and culture, she added. For one, since BYM was an internal term used by staffers, the shortened name was a seamless move.
“Initially, there was not a lot of structure,” Anstine said of BYM's model. “It was very relaxed when I came aboard three years ago. What we’ve done is fine-tuned the process and helped clients discover who they are. The strategy has evolved from order takers–this is what you need to do–to being a lot more strategic. Being creative and strategic helps provide direction, determine best standards and share knowledge.”
Anstine said BYM will dive more into behavioral marketing, meaning, when members are researching for their next big purchase online, the credit union's banner will introduce a targeted offer. The CUSO plans to also engage in preemptive marketing to know what credit unions need before they even do, she explained.
“Based on our results and data, this is where we can take (the credit union),” she said. “We can help guide them.”
Along with the changes at BYM, Hayes said nearly a month or so ago CU Holding also sold its shares in Co-operative Payroll Solutions LLC, a Winston-Salem, N.C., firm that provides payroll processing services to more than 200 clients. Hayes did not say how much the shares were worth.
“We stared to look at things from a 500-foot level – real estate, communications and lending,” Hayes said. “We looked at what assets we wanted to maintain. CPS was an asset we had a conversation about that included buying back some of the units. They were also going in a direction where they need to recapitalize and get more equity. As it turned out, they were able to buy our shares back.”
On the lending front, CU Holding is also gearing up to introduce SimpliFast, a product that will be offered through XtraCash, a payday lending CUSO. While Hayes couldn't share too many details since the model is still being fine-tuned, a possible launch is scheduled for the end of this year or early 2015.
Meanwhile, CU Holding took a major leap forward earlier this year when it purchased MemberInsure LLC, a Lenexa-based firm that works with credit unions to provide the appropriate auto, homeowners, renters, life and small business commercial insurance to their members. MemberInsure is doing business as InsureKC, Hayes said.
CU Holding is the latest in the industry to purchase an insurance firm.
“The discussions started two years ago when we talked about protecting our clients. We purchased a small book and with a very small book, it gave us the opportunity to have carriers already in place,” Hayes said. “We can quickly take InsureKC mainstream and allow it to operate in the background.”
MemberInsure is led by Susan Monslow, director of insurance services, who worked as an agency owner and national sales trainer for a well-known insurance provider for 13 years and also regularly conducts continuing education classes for Kansas and Missouri agents. New clients are being added each day to MemberInsure's fold, she noted without providing a figure on how many credit unions are served by the company.
“Our research has found that credit union members like the convenience of having financial solutions in one place,” Monslow said. “Insurance is a natural extension.”
Indeed, Hayes said, the addition of insurance services helps deepen relationships while providing critical interest income.
CU Holding, no pun intended, has been holding its own for the past few years. According to its June 30, 2014 NCUA 5300 Call Report, total assets have hovered around the $7 million mark between June 2013 and June of this year. However, in March and June 2014, the holding company experienced losses of $279,293 and $269,502, respectively. Prior to March, CU Holding posted consistent net income.
Meanwhile, at the company's headquarters, they call the changes CU Holding 2.0, Hayes said. Two important factors continue to weave their way into the subsidiary's fabric.
“We’ve always had intelligent people. Now, we have the right people in the right places,” he pointed out. “A company's brand is similar to a person's reputation. An authentic brand emanates from everything that the company does.”