MADISON, Wis. – Just a few months after one of CUNA Mutual Group’s senior execs announced abruptly that he was leaving the company, CUNA Mutual has found his successor. Wayne Benson resigned back in April as CUNA Mutual’s Chief Officer/Sales and Marketing. Benson was often regarded as the No. 2 person at the company behind CEO Mike Kitchen, largely because in addition to his title’s traditional roles he also led corporate strategy along with Kitchen. James Gowan has officially been named chief officer/sales and marketing for CUNA Mutual Group, a title he was given on an interim basis once Benson resigned. Gowan has been with CUNA Mutual since 1984. He has held a number of positions, the most recent being senior vice president. In this role he will oversee the 1,000-plus field staff and their senior marketing officers. He will also oversee CUNA Brokerage Services, Inc., the company’s broker/dealer; and other internal sales and marketing units. Gowan is no stranger to the world of securities. He has his Series 7 and 24 Securities Registration. Unlike Benson, Gowan will not lead corporate strategy. However, Gowan will have a new responsibility. In an effort he described as keeping CUNA Mutual’s execs close to the customer, he will oversee an internal business-to-business sales support unit within the sales and marketing division. That new unit will be led by Dan Kaiser, formerly SVP of credit union marketing and sales support for the company’s MEMBERS Enterprise division. Kaiser will report to Gowan in his new role. Gowan said CUNA Mutual is serious about getting to know their customers better and for them getting to know CUNA Mutual better. “In the past a lot of credit unions would get into something and then come to us and say, `We didn’t know you had that product.’ If we do a good job understanding what they’re trying to accomplish, we can bring those services to them,” said Gowan. The company has changed many product lines over the years and has admitted that many CUs likely don’t know all that it offers. It has in recent years though stuck to its MEMBERS brand for products sold through CUs that touch CU members. Anticipating what CUs need is one thing field staff should be doing as part of the company’s new Customer Development Program, said Gowan. It calls for a rep to visit with a CU and take a sort of consulting approach to the CU’s needs, without specifically trying to push CUNA Mutual products. “I think the big thing is we want to help credit unions be successful,” he said. Gowan said during his 19 years with the company, most of it has been spent in the field, so he understands credit unions. He doesn’t plan on becoming isolated from them because of his new executive title. “I do attend a lot of national meetings. We do a fair number of strategic planning meetings (which he attends),” said Gowan. He’s not the first Gowan to work for CUNA Mutual. His dad Gene worked for the company for 23 years. He retired as a VP in charge of CUNA Mutual’s then brokerage arm. Gowan doesn’t see any one CUNA Mutual product that he will give more attention in his new role. He said credit insurance has been hurt by a slow down in lending, and investments are off projections because of the economy (though they’re still up 20% over last year). “I think this is a great opportunity. I’ve worked a long time with credit unions and CUNA Mutual. I love the environment we’re in. CUNA Mutual has a lot of great people, that’s the thing that keeps me going.” [email protected]

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