CUNA GAC CUSO Guide: Part 1

Written by Kirk Drake - Cloud Topics, P3 - Plan, Prepare, Protect - No Comments

If you work for a credit union or are on a credit union board – You may have heard about CUSO’s or Credit Union Service Organizations. In many credit unions, CUSO’s provide critical operational services and generate much needed income.  The role of CUSO’s is expanding rapidly.  It is time we all learn more about CUSO’s.

CUNA’s GAC or Government Affairs Conference for the most part focuses on political action within the credit union movement. Nonetheless, because so many credit union executives come to Washington, DC a lot of vendors and CUSOs come too. Even though CUSO’s are OWNED by credit unions, it has been my experience that they are largely overlooked, not asked to  participate in most of the political advocacy and are lumped into the general “Vendor” category. In reality, I think CUSO’s are one of them most important if not the most important way for innovation, adaptability, and differentiation credit unions have and are crucial to the long term viability of the industry. As a CUSO fanatic, I wanted to help promote CUSO’s as a whole at GAC and have thus created this GAC – CUSO Guide. There will be several parts to this guide – First, which CUSO’s will be exhibiting and second, what side events will CUSO’s be hosting.

What makes a CUSO different from Vendors?

Essentially, just like a credit union is member owned and that makes it special – the exact same thing is true about CUSOs. Credit Union ownership in strategic partners ensures that credit unions have a voice, can emphasize their priorities, and can customize the services for either themselves or their membership.  The people who run many CUSO are often experienced credit union professionals who are providing the same services to multiple credit unions under the CUSO that they used to provide to a single credit union as that credit union’s employee.  It also means when the CUSO wins financially, the credit union clients and owners also win.  There are no non-credit union shareholders to please.  Many jointly owned CUSOs pay handsome dividends to their credit union owners, in addition to saving them money on the services provided and generating revenue through products and services a credit union cannot offer directly, but can do through a CUSO.

How do CUSO’s enable collaboration?

CUSO’s provide the business structure to foster collaboration among credit unions. My experience has been that in order to create sustained collaborative efforts that transcend management teams and CEO relationships a CUSO is necessary. CUSO’s create an independent neutral zone that enables all parties to work for the common good – occasionally at an individual or organizations detriment. Without this - tough business decisions and issues cannot be dealt with efficiently. Sometimes these decisions are key for the health of the organization and ability to achieve something that as one we cannot. Ultimately, the board governance, shared business ideals, joint problem solving, and industry focus breeds increased trust and collaboration which yields innovative ideas and businesses that reshape the industry. It isn’t that collaboration won’t occur without a CUSO, I find it just makes it much tougher.

Where can you get more resources?

Which CUSO’s will be exhibiting at GAC?

If I missed one – please let me know and I will add it asap! 

CUSO NAME (Alphabetical) Booth #/s Website
CNBS 614
CO-OP   Financial Services 301
Credit Union 24, Inc. 324
Credit   Union Data Processing 548
Credit Union Student Choice 526
CSCU 323
CU Direct Corporation 457
CU   Solutions Group 340
CU Sources 535
CUMAnet,   LLC 569
EPL, Inc. 448, 524
ICUL   Service Corporation 361
Mortgage Liquidity Solutions 446 Mortgage Liquidity Solutions
MY CU Services, LLC 525
Ongoing   Operations 357
Passageways 350
PSCU 308,   111
Share One, Inc. 451
The Members Group 329
Member Access Pacific 610
Member   Business Lending, LLC 636
Member First Mortgage 129
MEMBERS   Trust Company 449
PolicyWorks 329
The   Paragon Group 552
uGenius Technology 227
United   Solutions Company 650

 Want more info on CUSOs?

Click here to learn about The Difference Between a Technology CUSO and Technology Company

Click here to learn about The Difference Between a Disaster Recovery CUSO and a Disaster Recovery Company

Click here to learn about the Technology Challenges of CUSO’s

Click here to learn about Ongoing Operations CUSO Exam


About Kirk Drake

Kirk Drake Kirk Drake is founder and CEO of Ongoing Operations, LLC, a rapidly growing CUSO that provides complete business continuity and technology solutions. With its recent acquisition of Cloudworks, Ongoing Operations has expanded its market niche and become the leader in hosted solutions for credit unions and their providers. Kirk is a well-known and respected industry leader with over 15 years of experience designing and implementing advanced IT Systems and Disaster Recovery Solutions. Prior to founding Ongoing Operations, he served as Chief Technology Officer for NIH Federal Credit Union, a $400 million financial institution. During his time at NIH, Kirk spearheaded critical system conversions and led many projects to strategically advance the credit union, allowing it to better serve its members. Kirk is also an expert in designing collaborative solutions and developing innovative technology platforms. During Kirk’s tenure at Ongoing Operations, the CUSO has grown to one of the top twenty CUSOs in the nation and successfully recovered numerous clients in actual disaster situations.

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