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MADISON, Wis. – In the nearly four years since its launch, an investments services program designed to help build stronger loyalty with more members is seeing the fruits of its labor. CUNA Mutual Group’s registered Member Services Representative (rMSR) program has grown to 138 representatives in 72 credit unions nationwide since it was launched in 2001. An rMSR performs traditional member services on behalf of the credit union, but is also registered and licensed to offer a limited portfolio of mutual funds and insurance products to members. Besides having the ability to increase their deposit sales penetration, credit unions can also educate members on the breadth of services with the goal of increasing member loyalty, said Micah DiSalvo, platform services program manager for CUNA Mutual’s MEMBERS Financial Services program. “Some of the most successful credit unions are using the rMSR program as a stepping stone for building a full-service investment/insurance program,” DiSalvo said. “The next piece is the Financial Services Rep, followed by an Advisory Services Rep for more complex investment needs, and finally the implementation of the Trust Services model.” For the $4 billion, Tampa-based Suncoast Schools Federal Credit Union, eight rMSRs have been serving its 369,000-plus member base for two years and plans are in place to add six more reps this summer. “Members find it useful that they can have one person provide traditional member services, and accommodate their investment needs in a one-stop shop fashion,” said Roy Echols, member investment advisor and Suncoast’s rMSR supervisor. “The relationships these reps develop help the credit union retain that member’s business for the long haul.” The rMSR works in tandem with the credit union’s MEMBERS Financial Services rep to segment member services in an efficient manner,” DiSalvo said. The MEMBERS Financial Services rep provides coaching and mentoring to the rMSR and is able to spend additional time addressing more advanced member investment needs, which are sometimes identified by the `protg.’ ” One of those “ protgs” at $372 million, Allentown, Pa.-based First Commonwealth Credit Union is Nicole Vargas. In addition to handling traditional member service requests, Vargas has been an rMSR for just more than a year. “The member services/rMSR role creates a level of comfort for members,” Vargas said. “We’re handling all their needs, not just selling them something. And in addition to extending service to another segment of members, the credit union’s assets under management are increasing.” Indeed, at Suncoast Schools, assets under management have more than tripled going from $1.34 million in 2003 to nearly $4.9 million in 2004, Echols said. “We want primary financial institution status with our members,” Echols said. “The rMSR’s additional relationship helps retain deposit business the credit union might otherwise lose to another provider and keeps assets in the credit union.” The registered MEMBER Services reps are trained by CUNA Mutual and licensed and registered to handle such transactions as Roth IRA contributions and 529 college savings plans; fixed annuities; mutual funds; and limited-term life insurance sales. In addition, the training focuses on properly identifying members’ overall investment, deposit and protection needs. According to Vargas, the training continues on the job with the MEMBERS Financial Services rep. “We learn a lot about the process from them and subsequently pass on leads to them for member needs that are beyond our scope, such as stock trades, long-term care and estate planning,” Vargas said. “Together, we tie the knot in providing a complete package of financial services for our members.” CUNA Mutual’s MEMBERS Financial Services program serves more than 450 credit unions nationwide with their member investment and insurance needs. -

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