LENEXA, Kansas – Don't look for a long drawn out CEO search at U.S. Central. According to U.S. Central Chairman and Mid-States FCU CEO Dave Preter, the board wants to bring on a new CEO in rapid fashion. Dan Kampen resigned from U.S. Central on Aug. 3. "It is not our desire to have a 12-month process, it's our desire to have as short a process as possible. We don't have any candidate in mind today, but we would expect that we'll have chosen a search firm that can present us candidates in a very short period of time," said Preter. Preter said his plan is to have a search firm selected by U.S. Central's Aug. 31 board meeting, and have the firm attend that meeting and present a search timeline for the board. Preter said the search committee – made up of WesCorp CEO Bob Siravo, Mid-Atlantic CEO Ed Fox and Northwest CEO Kathy Garner – will ensure the search covers both credit union industry candidates as well as candidates from other industries. Preter also said the candidate will have had to have been a CEO before. "It's truly a CEO role, it's going to take a strong No. 1 person from an entity. I don't think we have the ability to tap into someone who hasn't been in a leadership role." The U.S. Central top spot is a unique position considering U.S. Central is a one of a kind entity in the industry. However Preter thinks there are plenty of talented people from within the industry that could do the job. "There are so many great leaders within the credit union system. I think we will see some really good candidates from within the industry. The board doesn't really have a preference at this time. It is always easier when someone has knowledge of credit unions," he said. Fox, who is on the committee, said he would prefer someone from within the industry, but will look at all candidates equally. For now U.S. Central is being led by interim CEO Dave Dickens, a seasoned U.S. Central exec who corporates are expressing great faith in. The U.S. Central Board enacted its succession plan after Kampen's resignation, and Dickens has been the designated No. 2 for some time now. "He has the full power dedicated to that office. There are no restrictions placed on that. Dave is just a tremendous resource for us," said Preter. Kampen's Sudden Exit Speculation over why Kampen resigned his post continues to revolve around systems issues. A number of corporate credit union sources believe the snail's pace at which corporates are converting to the new Symitar system used to do business with U.S. Central could have played a role in his sudden resignation. Apparently the issue was brought to Kampen's attention as an issue that needed to be resolved some months ago. According to U.S. Central, so far only six corporates have converted to the new system. There are 18 more in the pipeline. This pace is behind the original schedule. However, the systems conversion issue may not have been the key ingredient considering NCUA has played a role in the conversion pace and the systems issue is not a problem for the very big corporates, many of who are on their own systems. WesCorp, Southwest Corporate, Mid-States and Empire Corporate are all still on the EDS CCUN system, however they changed the platform. They've moved from the old mainframe platform to an AS400. WesCorp VP of Electronic Payments Sileshi Bereje said the AS400 platform gives the corporates more flexibility to customize the system. The four corporates still have a relationship with EDS for back-end support, but the rest of the system is maintained by corporate professionals. Others have said that ACH glitches may have put pressure on Kampen. Credit Union Times has learned that U.S. Central SVP of Correspondent Services Bob Amundson left U.S. Central last fall. Whether U.S. Central's ACH glitches played a role in Amundson's exit, is unknown, but it was his area of oversight. Talk of slow systems conversions and ACH glitches could be all wrong. According to one source close to this story, it may have just been the right time for Kampen. Most U.S. Central CEOs stay in the job for about seven years – Kampen was CEO for over eight years. And Kampen has had an eventful tenure, leading U.S. Central through a trying governance change process that gave corporates a greater voice on the board and moved it to a tiered capital system. He also had to perform the very delicate balancing act of expanding U.S. Central's product line without getting too close to natural person CUs. For example, U.S. Central's Charlie Mac subsidiary offers credit unions a secondary market to sell off loans to help manage their balance sheets. It's a product that's perfect for many credit unions struggling to keep up with loan demand. U.S. Central tries to stay in the background by letting the corporates bring in the clients and positioning it as a corporate product, but it's still a delicate area. Over the years U.S. Central has even asked to downplay the fact that Charlie Mac is one of its subsidiaries. U.S. Central has also wavered on its technology objectives. Its corporate network eCom subsidiary put it squarely in the software business (which reached natural person CUs), with products such as home banking, online alerts, and even lending (see related story on page 1). Just recently it sold off most of its software solutions, and has decided to keep its focus on the payment processing end by continuing to process bill pay transactions on the back end. Kampen could not be reached for comment. [email protected]

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