KENTWOOD, Mich. – Randy Karnes wants CUSOs to start thinking beyond what’s good for their individual businesses and instead bring their resources and investments together for the betterment of the credit union industry. “When you think about some of the large, multi-owned CUSOs in the U.S., they have some of the most creative and extendible information technology networks in the U.S. dealing with just about every processor. If these CUSOs were able to combine their technical and people backbone, they’d have an incredibly strong network,” says the president/CEO of CU*Answers. Karnes’ idea of CUSOs sharing their expertise goes beyond IT and data processing, the market his CUSO focuses on. It includes all the markets CUSOs address. “CUSOs offer a new pool of ideas that have to be looked at and considered if we’re really going to change our industry,” he said. “CUSOs have to start talking about the credit union charter and how they can help credit unions to reach a million members and reach the potential of these huge community charters. It’s in CUSOs’ best interest to recognize their own voice in helping credit unions reach their destiny. They should add their own unique voice to credit unions and not just leave the work up to credit union CEOs,” says Karnes. “Right now CUSOs don’t do that. We justify our own business plan. We form these companies and want them to succeed, and wind up becoming so good at it that we want to run them and win,” says Karnes. “CUSOs are supposed to design themselves based on the credit union philosophy and ultimate credit union goals. CUSOs have to guard themselves against adopting their competitors’ goals at the expense of credit union goals.” The CU*Answers president is confident NACUSO is headed in the right direction with its new collaborative business model and is in the position to help CUSOs leverage their mutual expertise to benefit credit unions and members. He has “high hopes” for NACUSO’s ability to bring a new focus of commitment and investment by CUSOs to the credit union industry. “The biggest thing NACUSO could do is convince CUSO people they’re credit union professionals first and buy into the success of the credit union industry. A for-profit credit union professional is just as important as the not-for-profit credit union professional when they have the same goal – to serve the member,” says Karnes. “It’s the `what if’ that’s important. If we can sit down and get some creative people in a room to ask that question, it would result in a network that would reverse the decline in the number of credit unions,” he adds. Karnes says NACUSO’s idea to hold an annual meeting of CUSO CEOs would facilitate such a discussion. He says meetings like these are “long overdue.” “Just imagine if there were never opportunities for credit union CEOs to come together to discuss issues without their boards of directors. This is a wonderful opportunity to exchange ideas among CUSO CEOs,” says Karnes. -