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HALES CORNER, Wis. – This July marked Bob Fouch’s one-year mark as CEO of Corporate Central CU, but Fouch is no newcomer. He’s been with the corporate for 15 years, so what’s different now? “I’m in a position to change course, change directions a little bit, be more entrepreneurial,” he said. “My role in the past was to take a look at products and services, now I only have to convince myself. It’s a little bit quicker to market.” Fouch succeeded Mark Schroeder. Fouch cited new investment and correspondent products and services started under his watch. “We came up with a new overnight account, a new management account that we targeted at 10-12 basis points over Fed Funds. We’ve been able to maintain that,” he said. On the correspondent side, it has partnered with Elan Financial Services to create a new ATM/debit card processing service. “With respect to paper check volume continuing to go down, we realized electronic transactions is where the industry is headed.” Corporate Central CU is staying in item processing and Fouch said it will launch its branch capture product shortly. The corporate is now in business lending. This year it opened its Business Lending Services CUSO. It’s partnered with three credit unions so far. It has an office in Milwaukee, with plans to open a Madison office in the next 60 days. It has commitments from two more CUs. “Our business model is a little different. It’s one where we actually put personnel in the community. They act as commercial loan officers on behalf of the credit union. That way they get the relationship with the local business.” This may sound like a tough model to keep up, but Fouch said if business grows it could open up more offices in different areas for minimal cost. The corporate saves money by using one set of software, underwriting is centralized and forms are electronic. “You can pick up a lot of economies of scale.” Corporate Central and Mid-States have been competing rather intensely in Minnesota in recent years. From an outsider’s view, it appeared as if the competition kicked in after Mid-States announced its intention to acquire Minnesota Corporate, but Fouch said that was just a timing coincidence. “We were providing a lot of correspondent services to those credit unions in the 9th Federal Reserve District before the merger. The decision to go into Minnesota was made long before any of that merger actually became public, with the fact the we did have Minnesota CUs as members already. The competition is very strong there, time will tell.” But Fouch said corporates competing against each other is not news anymore. “That’s kind of the way of the world, everybody is marketing to everybody else. It’s a global environment,” he said. A few years ago there was talk of Midwest corporates getting together to create a Midwest regional corporate – that’s not something Corporate Central is interested in, said Fouch. “From talking to our members, I know they wouldn’t be in favor of that. It comes down to pride of ownership, and a sense of commitment. There’s a lot of history here. Not every corporate is as strong as the next. Our members like that they belong to a strong corporate,” he said. Corporate Central is telling members about that commitment. It’s working on a program to share testimonials it has collected over the past 26 weeks from its members with the rest of the membership. Corporate Central also has a new logo (shown on page) and tagline that Fouch says shows the corporate’s desire to serve members. The new tagline is, “Deeply Committed to our Partnership With You.” Fouch was born and raised in Wisconsin and doesn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon. “I was raised in Southeastern Wisconsin. I don’t know why I stay in this 20-30 degree weather. I tell everyone there are no gates at the corridor, for some reason I stay,” he joked. He and his wife of 31 years spend a lot of free time with their grandchildren. He said being a grandparent is the best of both worlds, you get to enjoy the children but you don’t have all the pressures that go along with being a parent. Fouch was CEO of a natural person CU, First Service CU in Milwaukee, before joining Corporate Central. He’s concerned that the ownership aspect of credit unions isn’t coming across to most members. “There needs to be more awareness on the members’ part. There’s a lot of apathy out there. Credit unions are owned by their members, but I’m not sure members know that. You talk to CEOs who have a hard time finding people to work on the board. Whether it’s apathy or something else, that’s always been a challenge.” [email protected]

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