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AUBURN, Mass. – No corporate credit union is an island, that’s part of the new mantra for the $270 million Central Credit Union Fund. The corporate serves some 229 credit unions in Massachusetts, located in a very competitive Northeast region that’s home to five corporates. For years Central CU Fund has been a very quiet member of the corporate network. It hasn’t partnered with corporates, hasn’t been active with U.S. Central or the Association of Corporate Credit Unions, and has generally tried to stay fiercely independent – no more. With the departure of former CEO Gary Glassman last year, the corporate has opened its mind to being more collaborative with other corporates. For the last 16 months the corporate has been relying heavily on corporate CU veteran Emile Bonneau, a long time corporate CU executive, to right the ship. Bonneau was the CEO of Rhode Island Corporate FCU from 1990-1995. After it merged with Empire, he joined that corporate as SVP of Strategic Alliances and helped guide Empire’s acquisition of the New Jersey corporate. Most recently Bonneau served as president of Fall River Municipal FCU. Bonneau became a consultant for Central CU Fund in late 2002 and more recently was named interim CEO as the corporate continues its executive search. Bonneau said what he noticed right off the bat about Central CU Fund is there “was too much window dressing and not enough real true value.” The window dressing came in the form of an abundance of strategic alliances the corporate had formed, yet many didn’t bring value to its members, he said. “Under the former president we had about 39 alliances at one time. We went through a process of interviewing all of them and determining what value they brought. We eliminated 29 and are down to 10 strategic partners we can count on,” said Bonneau. One of the most successful aspects of Central CU Fund is its broker/dealer CUSO, Credit Union Brokerage Services. The problem, said Bonneau, is under the past leadership the brokerage seemed to be driving the corporate, not the other way around. The CUSO brought in $600,000 in net income in 2002. “Even to the regulators it looked like we were a brokerage with a corporate credit union as a CUSO. My role is to reverse it.” Former CEO Glassman was very active with the brokerage and three of its registered reps left the CUSO to follow Glassman to a new brokerage firm. The corporate has since replaced those employees, and while it wants to continue the success of the CUSO, it’s time to improve the corporate. One way it is doing that is by embracing the corporate network. It has moved a much bigger chunk of its investments to U.S. Central, going from having just 40% of its portfolio there to over 70%. The corporate’s ALM modeling is now done by ISI, the broker/dealer CUSO of U.S. Central. On the technology side it is set to junk its old in-house system and move to the Symitar/U.S. Central system. “The overall technology here had to improve. We had an internal DP system that we ran ourselves from a company out in Alaska. It was very dated. This corporate saw itself as so independent, that’s changed. We’re looking to mainstream more,” said Bonneau. Another new arrangement is a check collection and share draft processing agreement with Constitution State Corporate. It currently has 19 members on the program. It is also in discussions with Empire to offer its ALM product to its members, and has signed up as a co-agent for SimpliCD. Fitch ratings is also set to visit the corporate on Feb. 23 to begin the rating process. “We have not had a rating service. Again this is an image building process here. This is a very good corporate,” said Bonneau. Central CU Fund concentrates on small to mid-sized CUs, said Bonneau. This is not a corporate that wants to be swallowed up in a merger. “Certainly it’s very important to us to stay independent. The board wants independence,but we have to collaborate with other people to deliver more products and services,” said Bonneau. Is Bonneau putting his hat into the ring for the CEO job? Absolutely not. Bonneau, 62, plans to retire in August. “I’m retiring. I have a son who lives down in Plano, Texas. I have grandchildren. I bought some land in Texas, the house is being built, and come August my wife and I want to be down there.” He did say he’d like to keep his hand in the credit union industry on a part-time basis. A veteran of corporates, what does he think of today’s network? “I know there’s so much competition and there are mergers, but I really see corporates willing to work together. It wasn’t like this back in my Rhode Island days.” [email protected]

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