Credit Union Times Luminaries


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Michael Tindall, Area Financial Services: Led by president and CEO Michael Tindall, Area Financial Services embarked on a digital modernization effort in 2019. The Ohio-based organization converted its member credit unions to Corelation’s KeyStone core processing solution as well as a new digital banking solution through a partnership with Bankjoy. Bankjoy onboarded all six credit unions on a condensed deadline, including AFS’s largest credit union, Directions, which went live in just 35 days. The flexibility of these platforms gives AFS’s member credit unions more opportunities to maintain existing partnerships with other third-party solution providers as well as open doors for new partnerships, ultimately extending capabilities for optimal member service. AFS’s investment in digital banking is already paying off as members have responded positively to the new digital banking platform. In addition, being able to offer a world-class digital banking experience is a competitive differentiator for AFS as it looks to add new credit unions to its CUSO.
Ben Teske, Greater Texas|Aggieland Credit Union: Greater Texas|Aggieland Credit Union ($993.2 million in assets, 81,954 members) has achieved significant lending growth under the leadership of EVP and Chief Lending Officer Ben Teske, including a realignment of the lending department and adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Through AI, Teske identified new ways to price loans and create a broader range of lending products, allowing the credit union to offer pricing discounts based on a range of data points other than credit scores. Teske’s technology-focused lending approach paid off, enabling the credit union to grow the loan portfolio 62% and increasing annualized loan production 208%. Teske also was the lead architect on an indirect auto lending program that expanded its auto loan portfolio. With a large number of well-performing loans on the books, he spearheaded the packaging and sale of $50 million in two loan participation pools based on data analytics generated from the new loan origination system.
Amber Kaeter, Magnifi Financial CU: Magnifi Financial Credit Union ($1.7 billion in assets; 74,320 members) decided it prefers to be an industry disrupter rather than risk becoming disrupted. Under the direction of Amber Kaeter, who leads the IT and digital teams, the credit union has deployed innovations not only to its mobile and online banking assets but also to its branches. Amber's teams eliminated more than 100 ineffective and inefficient rules beginning in 2021 and started serving members using key digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, robotics and buying/selling crypto. In its initial year of deployment, Robotic Process Automation eliminated more than 3,600 hours of manual and repetitive employee tasks and predictive analytics influenced members to fund $2.5 million of additional loans. Because of the success and momentum gained in 2020/21 as an industry disrupter, Magnifi is funded to increase the innovation spend per employee by 51%.
April M. Clobes, MSU Federal Credit Union: Through her credit union’s technology lab and CUSO, and as an advisor to industry groups, April Clobes, president and CEO of Michigan State University Federal Credit Union ($6.8 billion in assets; 330,018 members) is leading a charge to discover and promote technology solutions that will improve services and advance credit unions everywhere. Clobes helped launch The Lab at MSUFCU in 2020 to identify opportunities for innovation, and in April 2022, the institution accelerated that effort with AlumniFi, a digital brand that will offer banking services tailored to the unique needs of university and college staff, faculty, students and alumni. MSUFCU’s latest innovations stem from Clobes’ work with Reseda Group, the wholly owned CUSO that MSUFCU established in 2021. Reseda Group, which has invested more than $63 million so far, offers a complementary set of support tools for fintechs to focus on credit unions as a growth strategy as they scale. Several of Reseda's Investment companies started as pilot partners in The Lab at MSUFCU.
Joe Welu, Total Expert: After a decade building a real estate team that achieved more than $1 billion in sales, Joe Welu founded Total Expert in 2012 to address the need for a marketing and sales platform attuned to the complexities of the financial services industry. He was driven by childhood memories of a bank foreclosure on his parents’ home followed by their ability to purchase a modest home thanks to a relationship with a local banker. This led Welu to build the enterprise-level marketing and sales solution specifically for banks and mortgage lenders that enables financial services organizations to create customers and members for life by re-humanizing complex financial decisions with targeted, automated and personal communications. Total Expert’s software-as-a-service platform integrates industry-specific data and compliance requirements. After 8 years, the solution is now powering marketing and revenue growth for 25% of total mortgage production in the United States, including 15 of the top 25 banks and lenders.


We are pleased to continue our presentation of the LUMINARIES Class of 2022 Finalists, who are being recognized this year for the many dynamic and inclusive ways they are driving the credit union industry forward.

The finalists were selected by our editorial team from several hundred stellar nominations in four award categories: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Executive Leadership, Innovation in Technology and Product Innovation.

This slideshow highlights the five finalists from our Innovation in Technology: Individual Executives category. This is a group focused on the development and execution of technological advances to benefit the credit union system.

The LUMINARIES Class of 2022 Finalists recently were reviewed by a diverse panel of judges from across the credit union industry, and a select group of winners will be announced on stage at the program’s first awards dinner and gala — set to take place Nov. 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C.

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