CU*Answers held their 2019 Annual Leadership Conference and Stockholders Meeting on June 19th in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. The event brought together credit union leadership from across the country for a briefing on the organization’s overall direction and major projects for the coming year.

This year’s conference theme was “Unique, Not Original.” CU*Answers CEO Randy Karnes was joined on stage by long-time industry icon Chip Filson for a discussion around the question, “can we be transformative pioneers for our futures?” Said Karnes as he introduced the conference theme to the group, “Every credit union and person in our network is unique. For our cooperative to be strong, every organization’s creativity and need to be unique must be honored and fostered by our collective.” Karnes explained today’s credit union leaders are connected to the original concepts, organizations, and individuals from our industry’s history who proved that consumer-owners could succeed. “This connection should embolden us to take on the future, based on our unique qualities in the here and now,” said Karnes. “As those leaders were the pioneers of the past, you should see yourselves as pioneers of the future.”

The day-long conference was attended by 203 leaders from 104 credit unions, along with 48 representatives from 26 vendors and 32 internal staff. Other topics included, “Can we spark a credit union retailing revolution?,” “What is the future of the ‘It’s Me 247’ suite?,” and “Defining teller platforms for our future.”

Thanks to all for the hard work that made last week a win. And thank you to Chip Filson who shared his passion for the credit union industry with the room and gave us all something to think about as we move forward into 2020. – CEO Randy Karnes

Can We Be Transformative Pioneers for Our Futures

During the first section of the event, Chip Filson joined Randy on stage to talk about how to transform the industry. The conversation centered around three speeches given by Ed Callahan, former Chairman of the NCUA: Finish the Job (1984), The Three Freedoms (1984), and Necessity for Choice (1986). Randy and Chip commented on the parallels between Chip’s comments to credit unions then and the challenges credit unions face today. And just as Ed was excited about 50 years of the NCUA and optimistic for the next 50 years of the industry, so too is CU*Answers as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2020.

Chip’s message to credit unions was simple. The way forward for the credit union industry is through cooperation between credit unions and the CUSOs they form, a mutual respect and cooperation between credit unions and their regulators, and increasing cooperative literacy to increase the role members play. Randy followed by challenging CUSOs specifically with five initiatives: fund de novo credit unions, inspire private insurance alternatives, create a scholarship fund to support struggling credit unions, form a national cooperative design think tank, and impact the selection process for the NCUA board of directors.

Randy and Chip wrapped the segment by encouraging leaders to read Chip’s new blog, chipfilson.com, and by continuing to engage with CU*Answers and other CUSOs to stay involved in the cooperative design process.

Can We Spark a Credit Union Retailing Revolution?

Randy tackled this question by first bringing David Damstra, CU*Answers VP of Marketing Services & Creative Director, on stage to investigate how the principles of advertising, location, product display, and convenience all gave way to the modern day idea of the Online Store. As CU*Answers celebrates its 1000th product available from its own Online Store, the two encouraged credit unions to start rethinking how they meet their members where they are.

Geoff Johnson, COO & President, would later join Randy to talk lending. Their goal? To get everybody in the room comfortable with saying yes to the question “Do you do loans instantly on the Internet without any employee intervention?” To help in that mission, the two unveiled some recent and upcoming developments including:

  • 1Click credit card offers gives pre-approved members the opportunity to quickly accept and disburse credit card funds
  • CD-secured loans with instant account creation
  • Perform loan modifications directly from online banking for member convenience
  • The ability for members to post ACH deposits waiting in the warehouse online and on demand for a small fee
  • CLR Path is a new alternative for auto-decisioning that’s coming; help validate what you think you know about the member

What is the Future of the It’s Me 247 Suite?

The third section kicked off with EVP of Software Development Brian Maurer and VP of MTG Product Design & Business Development flexing some of the upcoming enhancements to the It’s Me 247 suite of products. Personal Internet Branch (PIB) is being re-envisioned for the next decade—a new look and new features for the modern online member. Mobile Web is also getting a new nav and it’s starting with It’s My Biz 247.

Randy announced Positive Pay: a partnership between CU*Answers and eDOC. The new product that uses a business member’s check register to verify whether a check should by cleared by the check processor.

CU*Answers is also improving first-time user activation for It’s Me 247! The changes are in beta now and releasing with 19.10. The enhancements allow members to request temporary access codes via email or text. And lastly, coming spring 2020, private and secure message exchange through online banking!

Defining Teller Platforms for Our Future

Last, but not least, VP of Writing Team/Software Design Dawn Moore came on stage to give a status update on the Teller T3 initiative, a renewed focus on tellers and the lobby retailing channel. Among the highlights of the features in development as CU*Answers works hard at redesigning teller approaches were: no longer needing ProDOC to capture a receipt; working prototypes of Express Teller phase 1 coming by June 2020; and the big one, Standard, Large, and XL window sizes for CU*BASE are in the works!

Asterisk Intelligence business developers Josh Peacock and Keegan Daniel wrapped up the day by giving an update on Analytics Booth developments, and exciting new services from the AI team, including a partnership with AuditLink to provide better fraud-related products and services.


  • Esteban Camargo

    As a supervising editor of CUSO Magazine, Esteban reviews and edits submissions, assists in the development of the publishing calendar, and performs his own research and writing. His experience provides CUSO Mag with a seasoned writer and content curator, able to provide valuable input to contributors, correspondents, and freelance journalists. Esteban has worked at CU*Answers since 2008 and currently serves as the CUSO's content marketing manager.

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