<p>NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – CUSOs – whether they be wholly or jointly owned – and credit unions should have the same primary goal, the members' best interest. The integrated model of CUSOs and credit unions cross-selling each other's services and being mutually focused on getting product information and services into members hands is a model most subscribe to, but in reality do not always practice. "It would be great if the overriding goal of credit unions and CUSOs was the member," says NACUSO Executive Director Bob Dorsa. "Unfortunately they sometimes have different and conflicting goals and objectives. It becomes an `us vs. them' mentality, instead of the credit union and the CUSO having aligned goals." If that happens, it's the fault of the credit union or credit unions that own the CUSO, opined Joe Brancucci, vice president of lending and chief lending officer for Boeing Employees' Credit Union, and president/CEO of prime Alliance Solutions. "It's up to the credit union or credit unions that own the CUSO to set out the CUSO's mission statement," said Brancucci. "If the credit union sets out a vision statement for the CUSO that's consistent with their own, then there shouldn't be a problem. "If the CUSO is bottom line driven, instead of member service driven, it's the credit union's fault because that's what they've set out for the CUSO," said Brancucci. "Would I do something that wasn't in the best interest of a Boeing Employees' CU employee or member, absolutely no. Our mission is very member-centric. Our focus is on creating a better mortgage experience for the credit union's members. That's very specific, it's not an adversarial relationship with the credit union. But if a credit union for example has a mortgage CUSO and they tell it to bring in a certain level of mortgage business, then that sets the CUSO and credit union up to have a competitive relationship." Richard Conley of Tinker Financial Services agreed that the situation could become problematic, but fortunately for Tinker Financial Services he said that's not the case. Conley attributes that to the fact that four senior management people from Tinker FCU sit on the CUSO's board. "We work well together and complement one another. We each see ourselves as an extension of the other. Our efforts go hand in hand," he said. Dorsa stressed that cooperation between the two entities is "a two-way street. It's not a `what's in it just for me' situation." If, for example, a member asks a CUSO for information about a product or service the CUSO doesn't offer but the credit union does, Dorsa said the CUSO should refer the member back to the CUSO. Is a certain amount of friction between CUSOs and their owner credit union(s) to be expected? Affinity Financial Services President Mark Cochran says "yes," and that's not necessarily bad either, he said, "as long as it's not detrimental to the members." Cochran said Affinity Investment Services, which provides mutual funds, investment alternatives and retirement planning services is frequently faced with this situation. "If a member has a dollar, should they put it in their share account at Affinity FCU, or give it to the CUSO to invest? The answer has to be at the philosophical level, that is, you do what's best for the member. The important thing is that they do something with Affinity, be it the credit union or the CUSO," said Cochran. "You want to keep the members' money with the credit union or CUSO, and not have them take it to an outside financial services provider." -</p> <p>[email protected]</p>

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