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MONTEREY, Calif. – Diversification has been the name of the game for Liberty Enterprises since Stan Hollen came on board as CEO about a year and a half ago, and that trend continues with Liberty’s latest move to acquire MyDAS Marketing. MyDAS Marketing, based in Boulder City, Nevada, is a consulting company that specializes in marketing and training. It has a large following among credit unions out West and in Texas. It serves about 150 credit unions and major CU vendors such as Fiserv and Harland. It also has some banking clients. Liberty President/CEO Stan Hollen is very familiar with the company from his days as CEO of The Golden 1 CU. “We used their secret shopping services a lot at Golden 1. I’ve known Sue Mitchell (MyDAS’ president) for a number of years and we were thrilled when they moved their strategic alliance from Harland to us a year ago. They bring us products that are really in high demand from credit unions. Training, compliance, service quality are all very important for credit unions right now,” said Hollen. Hollen also noted that MyDAS’ success with large credit unions was attractive since Liberty is trying to better penetrate that segment. MyDAS will operate as an independent subsidiary of Liberty. Hollen said Liberty wants to preserve MyDAS’ brand recognition, so its name will not change. “We will do a lot of coordinated selling of their products and our products. They’re so well known in the West, we want to take them all over the country,” he said. MyDAS was founded in 1985 by Sue Mitchell and her husband. She said what sets MyDAS apart in the industry is that it’s not just a consulting firm; it also works with credit unions to follow through on their advice and set up new programs and products. “We have marketing, we have research, and we have education. If you think of it as a circle of services, consulting starts that circle. We have to understand the needs, then we go out and help design the message of brand with communication tools internally and externally,” said Mitchell. A student of financial services trends, having been in the industry for 25 years, Mitchell says credit unions need do to be focused on where the money is going. “One of the big initiatives over the last few years has been the transfer of wealth. We go out and help credit unions design programs to reach all generations. We do generational marketing. We mystery shop the branches to see how they treat the young people,” said Mitchell. She said credit unions need do understand how important it is to attract young people now, so they’ll be there when the wealth transfers. Another vital area Mitchell sees is helping credit unions deal with shrinking margins by operating more cost effectively from a human resource standpoint and technology standpoint. Mitchell has a technology background, starting her career at IBM working to help financials with custom applications and mainframes. Her tech background is very apparent at MyDAS. The company has had a lot of success with its online staff training programs, Credit Union University. Hollen said this was one of the products he’s most excited about since training for large CUs, particularly those with many branches, isn’t easy. “Training can be a challenge when you have multiple locations and employees in different geographic areas. They have a private label online university that is robust and has college accredited modules. When a new area comes out like business lending, they can develop a new module that would be difficult for a credit union do to on their own. Quite frankly this product has very little competition. CUNA and CUES have programs, but we’re confident that MyDAS is the best,” said Hollen. Mitchell said the decision to sell was emotional, but was necessary to fulfill the expansion aspect of its strategic plan. With the additional resources of Liberty, particularly its sales force, the MyDAS products can get to more credit unions across the country. “They came and talked to us about helping us go nationwide. Strategically it’s something we’ve been planning for. Liberty will help us keep the dream alive to expand our reach. We will still continue to have our league relationships,” said Mitchell. This is the third major deal for Liberty under Hollen. Last year it acquired CUNA Network Services and merged it into its Cavion unit. Hollen also piloted a deal that saw Liberty not buy a company, but sell one of its subsidiaries in Liberty FiTECH. It sold that unit to Open Solutions Inc. Hollen said he didn’t think core processing would be a focus of the company, so selling off the unit early was the best move. “There will be other deals coming from us that will be good strategic fits. We have a major announcement coming in the near future for a comprehensive identity theft solution,” said Hollen. Hollen said all these moves help diversify Liberty in preparation for the decline of the check, but he doesn’t think that will happen as soon as everyone thinks. “They are decreasing, but the volumes are so, so high that even if they shrink there is still a lot of check activity. If consumers are anything like my wife, the check will be around for a long time. Many people still feel safe with the check,” he said. He also noted that the studies that have predicted the decline of the check have so far been way off in terms of how fast it will happen. A year and a half into the Liberty job, Hollen said it’s great to still be able to work with credit union people he has known for years, but there are clear differences between leading Liberty vs. a credit union. “There are similarities between HR, marketing and technology, but there are distinct differences. It’s not that credit unions aren’t in a competitive market, but we operate with heavy competition and we’re in the for-profit world,” he said. He joked that he’s also enjoying now only having “quarterly board meetings instead of monthly ones.” [email protected]

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