I am writing about the front page article in the November 6 issue of Credit Union Times, “Matz calls small CUs `icons’ of industry; large CUs can do more for underserved.” NCUA Board member Deborah Matz is concerned about the ability of small credit unions to continue to meet the needs of the membership in today’s environment where mergers are becoming more common place and the bigger shops may not have the focus on member needs that the small shops do. I think a possible answer is in the challenge of technology mentioned in the latter part of the article. The technology solution does not have to have a prohibitive initial expense. Small CUs can look to the ASP (administrative service provider) solution that is becoming a standard in the world of business today. The beauty of technology is that outsourcing is now a terrific way to provide state of the art services and information to customers (members) in virtually every endeavor. State Credit Union Leagues, CUSOs and larger CUs can all help in this regard. They have the capital to develop the software and technology solutions unique to the CU industry. And then they “rent” them out to the smaller shops. There may initially be some “cookie cutter” programs but as time goes on the software developers typically become very adept at customizing their products and services for the end user. For a very minor relative cost, smaller CUs can bring the best ideas and practices to their members. This is the true promise of the Internet and software development. Couple that with the natural “high touch” environment inherent in most smaller CUs and there is true magic to be made for the members. Of course, the members will have to get comfortable with the Internet – this is the “high touch” role the CU can play – but in the long run this solution seems inevitable. And, in the meantime, it allows the very small to compete with the very large as long as they believe that a proprietary service is no where near as important as a quality service. Richard Matthews Principal Desjardins Matthews & Company Sterling Heights, Mich.

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