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WARRENVILLE, Ill. – Mid-States recently held its Financial Strategies Forum in Indianapolis that featured a number of well-known industry speakers. In his presentation, retired Patelco CU CEO Ed Callahan said there are two important ingredients for credit unions to attract and retain members – rates and convenience. He stressed that “convenience” means convenience for the members, not necessarily the staff. Also speaking was Robert Lawhead, president and CEO of Raddon Financial Group. His said that productivity is indeed measurable. He encouraged credit unions to segment their members and measure their profitability by using both inside data and industry figures, asking such questions as: What are the demographic characteristics of profitable members? How can credit unions cement the customer relationship and promote cross selling? What is the cost of inactive members? Lawhead warned that “moderate” and “convenience” users of credit cards may actually be a drain on profits. CUNA Vice President of Economics and Statistics Mike Schenk told attendees that this year’s election won’t have much of an economic impact on 2005. In the coming year, Schenk forecast that credit unions will experience slower savings and asset growth, healthy loan growth and an increasing loan-to-share ratio, continued high asset quality and healthy but lower earnings with stable net worth ratios. He also said there are some ominous signs of a housing bubble, though the extent depends on location. Credit unions serving businesses, a hot topic these days, was addressed by Larry Middleman, president and CEO of CU Business Group. Middleman said in order for credit unions to effectively market to small business, they must be connected with the community. “Networking only with other credit unions is not the answer. Then we are just talking to ourselves. Get in front of your potential clients by networking with business organizations outside our industry,” urged Middleman. In other news, Mid-States Chair’s Advisory Committee has some new recommendations for its corporate. Members of the committee recently met in Indianapolis and among other things recommended Mid-States look into offering products on a bundled basis, using relationship pricing. Twenty-two credit union leaders from five states participated in the meeting. The committee’s recommendations often yield results. Past recommendations led to Mid-States starting a broker/dealer and Mid-States partnering with business services CUSO, CU Business Group.

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