NEW ORLEANS – As far as Tom Walker is concerned, traditional credit union services can be compared to the sinfully delicious beignets sold at Caf Du Monde in the French Quarter. The credit union offers competitive rates. The beignets taste good. The credit union is convenient. You can walk to Caf Du Monde. The credit union boasts a culture of respect and trust. The Caf Du Monde staff is friendly. The credit union focuses on transaction accounts. Caf Du Monde offers only beignets. The credit union is member owned. Caf Du Monde is a New Orleans landmarkBut what, Walker asked, happens when people’s needs and tastes change? What happens when Caf Du Monde’s customers age and go on diets, can no longer walk to the restaurant, or move upscale and eat at Brennan’s? Similarly, Walker told members of the Education Credit Union Council at their annual conference here, credit union members are aging. Their retirement clock is ticking. They face more complex financial issues, including dealing with a significant transfer of wealth. As the founding CEO of Members Trust Co. in Tampa, Fla., Walker argued today’s credit union strategies may not work for tomorrow’s membership. That doesn’t mean abandoning traditional core services, he stated. It does mean expanding into new areas, including trusts. Walker read a series of headlines from a couple issues of The Wall Street Journal underscoring allegations of corporate dishonesty. Members, he suggested, “are looking for a company that will do what’s right.” They want honest answers to basic questions. Will I run out of money in my retirement? Who will manage my mother’s finances? What will be left of my estate after taxes and probate? “Your members want a trust advisor, not a salesperson,” Walker stressed. Trust services meet the needs of tomorrow’s members, he argued. The fiduciary principles of prudence and loyalty involved in a trust complement the credit union philosophy. “Keep the core staff but adjust to changes and markets,” he advised. Walker specifically singled out as “a great project for credit unions” advocating trusts and acting as trustees for children with special needs. Members Trust was a wholly-owned subsidiary of Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union until 2003. According to data cited by Walker, today the CUSO has 26 credit union investors, capital of $26 million with $5 million in the pipeline, 11 agency offices and 25 representative offices. – [email protected]

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