InTouch is a member service of the Mississippi Credit Union Association. Published twice per year, it contains broad credit union movement news & updates with the addition of items of interest to volunteers. Subscribe to InTouch or other MSCUA publications here.

Welcome to the New ONLINE InTouch Publication!

The Mississippi Credit Union Association’s publication InTouch, which was published in print twice per year, is moving online-only.

“Although the print edition of InTouch is ending, we look forward to continuing this publication online, providing a device-responsive, interactive, dynamic experience here, through our website, mscua.com,” said Charles Elliott, MSCUA President/CEO. “The new online format will provide greater flexibility and timeliness for delivering Mississippi’s credit union volunteers information and updates that help you stay connected with the Mississippi and national credit union movement.”

Subscriptions to InTouch are a benefit of membership with the Mississippi Credit Union Association; there is no charge to subscribe. Current subscribers with email addresses on file with MSCUA will be automatically subscribed to the new digital edition. New subscribers or those wishing to re-affirm their InTouch subscription may visit https://mscua.com/members-only/publications/subscribe, or email your request to hello@mscua.com.

Bonus Online Edition Content:
Season’s Greetings from the Mississippi Credit Union Association!

InTouch, 2023 Issue Two

FEATURED

MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT/CEO
Proposed CUNA-NAFCU Merger

MSCUA President/CEO
Charles Elliott, CLE, CUDE

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Association of Federally Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU), the nation’s two leading credit union associations, officially announced their intent to merge and form a new organization: America’s Credit Unions. On August 28, members of CUNA and NAFCU received ballots to vote on the proposed merger. The vote will remain open for 60 days. Should members approve the merger, America’s Credit Unions will legally be established no earlier than January 2024, with the intent to be fully operational by early 2025.

As explained in messages from CUNA Board of Directors Chair Lisa Ginter and NAFCU Board of Directors Chair Gary Grinnell sent to member CEOs ahead of the vote opening:

“This proposed transformation will be a merger of equals, not an acquisition of one entity over another, and will be a convergence of not only products and services, but of expertise, resources, and talents from both organizations. The CUNA and NAFCU Boards of Directors voted unanimously in support of the merger and approved all the documents needed to achieve it.

The formation of America’s Credit Unions will be an opportunity to better serve our collective membership, lead the industry into the future, and ensure the growth and prosperity of all credit unions. America’s Credit Unions will maximize value and efficiency for members, while remaining focused on providing relentless advocacy, unparalleled compliance assistance, and impactful educational events.”

When the transaction closes, Jim Nussle will serve as President and CEO of America’s Credit Unions. Dan Berger will remain at NAFCU until year-end, working to bring the two organizations together and to ensure the merger is a success.

The new association will initially be governed by a 16-person Board of Directors. This Transition Board will include current board members from both CUNA and NAFCU, including members of each board’s executive committee. Additional details on the Transition Board of Directors and dues structure can be found online at www.cuna.org/about/cuna-and-nafcu-merger.html.

Should members approve the merger, my service on the CUNA Board will end on December 31, 2023.

On August 15, the Mississippi Credit Union Association Board of Directors met to discuss the proposed merger, which received unanimous support. Along with efficiencies from combined operations, another significant expectation is that by combining strengths into a single entity, America’s Credit Unions will be a highly influential and effective voice of advocacy for ALL credit unions.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have questions.

Merger approved: Historic vote sets up transformation to America’s Credit Unions
11/3/23: Members of CUNA and NAFCU have approved the associations’ merger into America’s Credit Unions. The new organization is set to legally launch Jan. 1, 2024, and will spend the next several months aligning products and services to meet members’ needs, and committing to a culture that emphasizes accountability, transparency, and responsiveness.

Of those that voted, 94% of CUNA members and 86% of NAFCU members voted in favor of the merger.

CONTINUE READING > >

Questions or comments?  Reach out to Charles at president@mscua.com.

Mississippi Credit Union Association Members Elect Board

Barrett

Hollingsworth

Leonard

Mathews

At the 2023 annual membership meeting held on May 18, the Mississippi Credit Union Association (MSCUA) membership elected its board of directors. The twelve-member MSCUA Board represents the association’s sixty-five member credit unions in Mississippi that provide financial services to more than 700,000 consumers.

Five Inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame

Five Mississippi credit union leaders were inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame during the Mississippi Credit Union Association Annual Meeting & Convention in May. The Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame was Founded in 1994 to recognize deserving individuals who have dedicated a lifetime of service to the credit union movement. Induction into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame is the highest credit union honor bestowed upon an individual within our state.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: MS CU HALL OF FAME

Nominate someone for 2024 Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame induction consideration! The deadline for nominations is January 31, 2024.

Brodersen Shares Tips for Small CU Success at Mississippi Small Credit Union Forum

The Mississippi Small Credit Union Forum, an annual event hosted by the Mississippi Credit Union Association and designed to provide executive staff of Mississippi credit unions with $45M and less in assets opportunities to network and discover ideas, was held in August. This year, special guest Amy Brodersen, CEO of the $42M in assets Family Focus FCU, Nebraska, shared with the group the areas of focus that are helping her small credit union succeed and thrive.

Amy’s enthusiasm for credit unions extends beyond her work at Family Focus FCU, and she is actively involved in advocating for them at the state and national levels. Currently, she serves as a CUNA Advocacy Trustee for Nebraska, which enables her to provide expert insights into the credit union industry’s challenges and opportunities. In addition, Amy’s membership in CUNA’s Small Credit Union Committee, which she has been a part of for the past six years and chaired in 2022, has given her valuable knowledge of the unique obstacles small credit unions face in the fiercely competitive financial services industry.

In addition to her work with CUNA, Amy has been a member of the Nebraska Credit Union League Board since 2012. She served as chair in 2017, actively advocating for small credit unions and promoting her state’s cooperative financial services model. Since 2009, she has also been on the Cooperative Solutions Group Board, the league’s service cooperative.

In addition to sharing insights and experience from her own credit union’s journey, Brodersen focused on strategic planning, succession planning, and talent development as keys to small credit union success.

“Coming up with a plan and being intentional about how we do things is just as important at a small credit union as it is at a larger credit union,” advised Brodersen.

Strategic planning is essential, she says. “We have an outline that we are following, and everything ties to that. A small credit union’s financial resources and staff member time are limited, and that is precisely why you have to be intentional about how you use it.” Before committing time and resources to a task or idea, Brodersen always questions: “How does this fit into the plan for my credit union?”

“Strategic planning has been an interesting evolution for my credit union,” explained Brodersen. “When we first did it, I’m not sure we really knew what we were doing, quite honestly. It looked great and sat on a shelf until I needed to pull it out for the NCUA – check mark! But were we really doing strategic planning? Not really. A plan without action is just a wish. A plan without action, without intentionality, without tactical strategies to move that plan forward is just a wish.”

Strategic planning is not just an annual session, she says. The CEO and board must constantly be engaged in strategy. “We measure success monthly in the board meeting, and we make strategic planning an ongoing commitment. It’s the walk and talk of my board, quite honestly. It’s centric to my board room; everything else is around that.” She adds that a board is there to think strategically, not to manage day-to-day operations or get in the weeds of member issues.

“It’s [strategic thought] one of the most important things boards do. Why? Because they are ‘hired’ by our members to do it – to look out for the member’s best interest. So, they need to come into the boardroom and do that – they need to think, ‘where does our full membership want to go, and how are we going to get there?'”

“My plan can’t sit on a shelf simply because my board won’t allow it,” added Brodersen. “They want to know it is moving forward; they want to see progress. We’ve implemented Key Performance Indicators that help show them that. They are important because they objectively measure how the credit union is doing.”

To keep board meetings efficient and focused, Brodersen recommends implementing a consent agenda. “If you are giving them an agenda that allows them to talk about operations, to get into the weeds, that’s our fault as leaders. My board members love it [consent agenda] because it decreased our board meetings from more than two hours to 45 minutes. It allows the board to focus on new business items [and strategic thought].”

Another recommendation from Brodersen is to explore the positive influence associate board members can have on board recruitment. “Your board may struggle with this [associate members], but try to show them the benefits of cultivating that next leadership. An associate member can’t vote, but they can sit in and begin to learn and develop from the knowledge and experience of existing board members. Find the next generation of leaders within your membership who would be good members and talk them into becoming associate board members. What’s happening in my shop is they are all talking. It’s returning to the days when being on a credit union board is kind of a cool thing.”

Another focus Brodersen says positively impacts her credit union’s success is a clear talent strategy. The credit union has implemented a recruitment and interviewing process that helps bring in quality talent for her 12-person team. “We are very intentional about who we hire on our teams. We set clear expectations. I don’t have resources of any kind to waste in a small credit union. Everything I have is so important, and I’m so intentional about how I use it all,” said Brodersen about her credit union’s talent resources.

“We do team engagement surveys to find out the satisfaction of our team. I survey them and measure if we are doing what we need to do to keep our rock stars on our team because that’s important. This helps us make sure we’re moving forward,” explained Brodersen.

In addition to staying future-focused/strategic-minded, succession planning, and talent development, Brodersen outlined other keys for a small credit union’s success, including board relations & governance, collaboration & networking, technology & innovation, ALM/financial stability, sales culture, and brand identity/marketing.

Brodersen says credit union managers must embrace the challenges that come with the role of helping a small credit union thrive.

“As a manager, I’m not afraid of a challenge; I should be challenged. When I become ineffective, and I’m not forward thinking anymore, and I’m stagnant, then I need to leave. I need to pass it on to someone else because I owe it to my credit union to do that,” said Brodersen.

There are a variety of free resources that can help small credit unions develop a plan for success. Small credit union resources from the Credit Union National Association are available at https://www.cuna.org/my-cuna/small-credit-union-resources.html, and a ground-breaking research collaboration from TruStage and Filene Research Institute, The Puzzle-Solving Approach That Enables Small Credit Unions to Thrive, is available at filene.org.

Mississippi CU Professionals Serve as Panelists at the 2023 CUNA Southeast Small CU Conference

Griffin

Green

In September, the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), in cooperation with southeastern credit union leagues, including the Mississippi Credit Union Association, hosted a regional networking and learning event in Huntsville, AL, for credit unions across the southeast with under $120M in assets. The event focused heavily on information for generating income, loan-growth strategies, improving the bottom line, and ROA.

Discussion panels were also part of the conference, and Triangle FCU’s Carol Griffin, VP of Collections, Compliance & Vendor Management, served as a panelist on the “Attacking Compliance from All Angles” discussion panel, and Pine Belt FCU CEO Brian Green served as a panelist on the “Level Up Your Lending” discussion panel.

On his credit union’s Facebook page, Green expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to engage with peers to learn better ways to navigate the ever-changing financial landscape facing small credit unions, stating: “Being a part of an industry that is built on serving and caring for the people of our communities is something to be proud of! We are so thankful for our members, and these conferences help us bring better services and solutions to everyone.”

CUNA Mutual Group Unifies Under a Single Brand – TruStage

By Eric Hansing, Sr. Vice President, Corporate Strategy, Marketing & Communications at CUNA Mutual Group

June marked the beginning of an exciting new chapter for CUNA Mutual Group and the credit unions we serve. After more than a year of massive effort, we are finally ready to launch as a single, unified brand – TruStage™.

The brand represents all we have to offer, enabling our customers and employees to experience one, cohesive organization. It’s an organization that, like credit unions, has experienced a vast amount of change over the last nine decades. Born into the credit union movement in 1935, CUNA Mutual Group has a long history of finding new ways to better serve our customers.

Over the years, we’ve added new brands, new products, even brought fully formed companies under our roof, all with an eye toward making a brighter financial future accessible to everyone. Each of those pieces of our evolutionary story fit together. At times, however, that fit wasn’t as clear from the outside as it was on the inside because many of those pieces had different brand names. We’d become a “house of brands.” How each of those brands fit together was confusing to our customers. By unifying under a single brand, our “house of brands” instead becomes a “branded house,” bringing clarity to the complete, compelling story of the company we have become.

We chose TruStage as our brand name. It’s a brand we launched 10 years ago for one of our largest lines of business. Since then, TruStage has developed positive equity, and our research indicated it was highly extensible into the rest of what we do. The name was also selected because it represents our desire to be a trusted partner to credit unions as they help members build financial confidence at every stage of their lives.

More than a name change
We believe a brighter financial future should be accessible to everyone. Our goal is to help improve the financial lives of millions more members thanks to the work we do in partnership with their credit unions. Coming together under a single brand unifies our organization, keeping us supremely focused on that goal.

The good news is we already help credit union members achieve bright financial futures today. Our purpose, principles and values have not changed, nor has our commitment to credit unions. We’re simply more cohesive. It’s much easier to see how each of our areas fit into a bigger, more compelling picture. It’s a motivating catalyst for growth.

Unified, not uniform
While it’s exciting that we’re now unified under a single brand, it’s important to remember that each area of TruStage brings something unique to the total. Our lending protection teams have different capabilities than our annuities teams, for example. Our technology and ventures teams are very different from our implementation and operations teams. Because it’s critical that TruStage provide trusted solutions at every stage of a member’s life, we will continue to build specialized proficiencies in new areas.

Now, however, we’re all unified by the TruStage brand. As such, our customers can expect consistent excellence from us no matter which products, services or experiences we’re delivering.

A bright future
Our organization does not take this change lightly. We have approached it with a high degree of reverence for the nearly 90-year-old CUNA Mutual Group brand and each of its sub-brands. They represent an important part of our history.
As credit unions continue to grow and evolve, so will we. Unifying under a single brand will allow us to bring all our capabilities together, maximizing the value we bring to our customers. We are so proud of all the different employee teams that have tackled the many pieces of this branding puzzle. They understand how important our credit union partners are.

The value system that is so deeply embedded within our company and the movement will keep us focused on ensuring the industry continues to thrive. A colleague put it best: “‘CU’ may no longer be in our name, but it will always be in our blood.” We look forward to a bright future serving credit unions as, together, we create brighter financial futures for your members.

The views expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of CUNA Mutual Group.
CUNA Mutual Group is the marketing name for CUNA Mutual Holding Company, a mutual insurance holding company, its subsidiaries and affiliates. Corporate headquarters are located in Madison, Wis.

CORP-5662026.1-0523-0625 © CUNA Mutual Group

Be a Better Board Member: 12 Steps

Board members at four credit unions, along with a strategic planning adviser, recently offered their thoughts on how to become a more effective director.

Phyllis Ford, board chair at $204 million asset XCEL Credit Union, Bloomfield, N.J.; Tim Harrington, president at TEAM Resources; Courtney Jones, director at $1 billion asset Community 1st Credit Union, Ottumwa, Iowa; Doug Mah, board secretary at $4.7 billion asset WSECU, Olympia, Wash.; and Pat Tollefson, director at $823 million asset Corporate America Family Credit Union, Elgin, Ill., share these insights about improving board service:

The Puzzle-Solving Approach That Enables Small Credit Unions to Thrive

Small credit unions are often seen as disadvantaged by a lack of scale. But in fact, many are flourishing. These small credit unions defy stereotypes, leveraging their unique strengths as flexible, committed, member-focused institutions keyed into the needs of their particular markets and communities. What makes for a small credit union that is not just surviving but thriving?

Together, TruStage and Filene Research Institute have undertaken a ground-breaking research collaboration to study the strengths, challenges, and opportunities facing small credit unions. Small credit unions are well respected for being member-focused and community-oriented institutions. Thriving small credit unions are also, however, more strategic, financially stronger, and more innovative and entrepreneurial than they are typically given credit for.

Setting the Course for a Fintech Blueprint

SRM’s recent report makes the case that banks and credit unions of all sizes need to develop a fintech blueprint – an actionable, comprehensive strategy to address industry evolution. In a previous blog, we outlined some recent innovations – open banking, real-time payments, and embedded finance – that should serve as a call to action.

In tackling these challenges, it makes little sense to bolt a new system onto legacy operating processes. Let’s consider a few steps financial institutions can take to prepare and establish an environment for success once the fintech blueprint moves on to the building stage.

NEWS

Four Graduate from 2023 Southeast CUNA Management School

The Southeast Regional Credit Union Schools (SRCUS) and the Mississippi Credit Union Association congratulate four credit union professionals who are 2023 graduates from the Southeast CUNA Management School. READ MORE

MS Well-Represented at 2023 Southeast Regional Directors Conference

More than 300 volunteer leaders from across the southeast gathered for the Southeastern Regional Credit Union Schools (SRCUS) Southeast Regional Directors’ Conference in Memphis in July. Mississippi credit unions in attendance included Eagle Express FCU, Gulf Coast Community FCU, Jackson Area FCU, Keesler FCU, Magnolia FCU, Mutual CU, Rivertrust FCU, Sunbelt FCU, and Triangle FCU.

Mississippi CUs receive CDRLF Grants

The National Credit Union Administration awarded $3.1 million in Community Development Revolving Loan Fund grants to 142 low-income and minority depository institutions. The NCUA made awards in five categories: Underserved Outreach, MDI Capacity Building, Digital Services and Cybersecurity, Training, and Consumer Financial Protection.

Mississippi grant recipients included:

  • Mississippi FCU: Digital Services & Cybersecurity
  • Jackson Area FCU: Digital Services & Cybersecurity
  • Water’s Edge FCU: Digital Services & Cybersecurity
  • Citzens Choice: MDI Capacity Building for Implementation of New Products and Services

In the 2023 grant round, the agency received 290 grant applications totaling more than $7.7 million. READ MORE

ABC News Features HOPE in Black-Owned Bank & Credit Union Report

ABC News Live featured HOPE CU in its reporting on the importance of Black-owned banks and credit unions in closing the racial wealth gap. The segment included commentary from HOPE’s CEO, Bill Bynum, on overcoming structural barriers to home and business ownership.  WATCH

Credit Unions Host Financial Reality Fairs

Eight credit unions in the central Mississippi area collaborated this spring to host a financial reality fair for students at Bolton Middle School. Participating credit unions included Brightview, Eagle Express, HealthPlus, Jackson Area, Magnolia, Members Exchange, Mutual, & Statewide.  READ MORE

On October 6, the credit unions of Mississippi were once again excited to host a financial reality fair for the students attending Representative Bennie Thompson’s annual College & Career Fair. Participating credit included Jackson Area FCU, Mississippi FCU, Rivertrust FCU, MSCUA, Statewide, and Hope CU.

Magnolia FCU hosted a financial reality fair for Girl Scout Troop #3336, teaching the young ladies about real-world finances, from budgeting and saving to making responsible spending choices. MORE PHOTOS

1st Mississippi FCU, Meridian Mutual FCU, Meridian MS ANG FCU & MUNA FCU hosted a financial reality fair on November 8 for middle school students from four Lauderdale county schools. The credit unions and other volunteers helped the students learn about budgeting and spending in the real world. MORE PHOTOS

Credit Unions Host Lunch for Shower Power MS

On October 13 central Mississippi area credit unions collaborated to sponsor and serve lunch at Shower Power MS.  MORE PHOTOS.

Credit Unions Celebrate Grand Openings

Jackson Area Federal Credit Union held a grand opening celebration on June 29 for its new Clinton branch, located at 204 Clinton Blvd. MORE PHOTOS

Keesler Federal Credit Union celebrated the opening of its new Meadowbrook branch in Jackson, located at 1300 Meadowbrook Rd. MORE PHOTOS

Triangle Federal Credit Union held a grand opening celebration on October 12 for their new West Point location at 7290 US-45 Alt.

Jackson Area FCU wins Community Choice Award

Jackson Area FCU was the winner in the credit union category in the 2023 Clarion Ledger’s Jackson Community Choice Awards Program. The program celebrates the best businesses and organizations in the area by allowing the local community to nominate and vote for their favorite companies in more than 90 categories.

McWilliams family expresses thanks to credit unions for memorial contributions

Clay McWilliams (pictured third from left), brother of the late MSCUA Senior Vice President Tom McWilliams, asked MSCUA to pass along on behalf of the McWilliams family their appreciation of the credit union community’s memorial contributions made for Tom to the Mississippi State University endowment fund the family established. The history of the family fund was recently highlighted in MSU’s Common Ground newsletter. READ MORE > >

More CU News Briefs

  • Keesler Federal Credit Union has named Lawrence Dupont as Chief Risk Officer, Julie Peek as Director of Finance, and Melissa Beebe as Director of Marketing Analytics.
  • Old South Federal Credit Union has changed its name to One South Federal Credit Union. MORE
  • Armstrong FCU (Jackson) has merged with Jackson Area FCU (Jackson).

ICYMI: Photos from the 2023 MSCUA Annual Meeting

In case you missed it (ICYMI), check out our photo gallery from the 2023 MSCUA Annual Meeting and Convention. VIEW PHOTOS HERE.  And, mark your calendars for the 2024 event, May 14 – 17 at the Beau Rivage!

Want more CU News & Updates?

Learn more about or subscribe to other MSCUA email publications at https://mscua.com/members-only/publications/subscribe/.

TRAINING & EVENTS

Save the Date!  2024 MSCUA Annual Meeting & Convention Registration Opening Soon!

The 2024 MSCUA Annual Meeting and Convention will be held May 15 – 17, 2024, at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi. To help you begin your plans to attend, a schedule of events overview is provided below.  Please note the new day-of-the-week pattern for this year’s meeting.  Instead of Thursday – Saturday, the 2024 event will be held Wednesday – Friday.

Schedule Overview

Tuesday, May 14

  • Elwyn Pope Memorial Golf Tournament

Wednesday, May 15

  • MS Executive Association Educational Session and Meeting
  • Afternoon Pre-Conference Educational Session
  • MSCUA Business Meeting
  • Opening Reception in the Exhibit Hall

Thursday, May 16

  • General Sessions

Friday, May 17

  • Breakfast & Closing General Session

Member benefit: On-demand BSA training for volunteers & staff is now available from MSCUA

The Mississippi Credit Union Association is pleased to provide our member credit unions regulator-mandated BSA/OFAC training as a dues-supported added benefit of membership with MSCUA. The new 2023 training videos and materials are now available and deliver information that both staff and volunteers should know. GET DETAILS

2024 Governmental Affairs Conference

The Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC), the credit union industry’s largest advocacy event returns to Washington, D.C., March 3 to March 7, 2024.

Each year thousands of leaders from across the country come together to rally around a united cause — to show legislators how their policies impact credit unions and their more than 137 million members.

“Mississippi credit unions are committed to ensuring all Mississippians have access to affordable financial products and services.” said Charles Elliott, MSCUA President/CEO. “This visit allows us to deliver this message directly to policymakers. It’s an immeasurably important step in our advocacy efforts.”

GET DETAILS

2024 Save the Dates

  • MSCUA Annual Meeting & Convention, Wednesday, May 15 – Friday, May 17, Biloxi (Please note the new Wednesday – Friday day pattern.) MORE
  • Southeast Regional Directors (+ Supervisory Committee) Conference, July 28-31, Williamsburg, VA MORE

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