Success by Sharing

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Back in mid-2018, Austin Kimberling, the chief compliance officer at U.P. State Credit Union in Escanaba, Michigan had been employed at the credit union for about one year. There was nothing special about his situation, he was just a regular guy working at a credit union. But then, Connie Toensing, the CEO at Chippewa County Credit Union in Sault Ste. Marie, reached out to Ray Theoret, CEO at U.P. State, with an idea: what if we share Austin’s expertise when it comes to compliance and vendor management? The outcome was one employee working with two credit unions in a very specialized area. It was an inspired idea, and the results have been incredibly successful.

A new idea

Let’s face it, many credit unions are seeking ways to reduce expenses. But when it comes to compliance, rules, regulations, and vendor management, no one wants to take any shortcuts, so why not find other ways to make the credit union more efficient?

Toensing sought to do exactly that. When she heard that Theoret had already signed up for the AuditLink Vendor Management service at CU*Answers, her question was simple: can we share an employee? In this case, Austin Kimberling. Kimberling’s impressive resume included graduating from Creighton School of Law and previously serving as director of compliance and auditing, working with attorneys and firms throughout all 50 states. Both Theoret and Toensing recognized a great opportunity with a gifted individual and decided to build on this partnership.

“This is the perfect example of the credit union philosophy of people helping people,” says Theoret.

For the past 12 months, Austin has been handling both responsibilities for U.P. State and Chippewa County flawlessly, stating that, “The key is just remembering the small differences in policies and procedures at each credit union. We all follow the same rules and regulations, but each credit union is unique.”

Toensing added, “What a great fit for our credit union to have Austin do compliance and vendor management. Both credit unions use the same program, so he only has to learn the program once and then carry his knowledge from one credit union to the other.”

Jim Vilker, VP at CU*Answers says, “Austin has done an outstanding job coordinating, communicating, and overseeing the AuditLink team work. Sharing an employee is a great idea as vendor management is rarely a full-time job in a credit union. In fact, that’s the exact premise that gave rise to AuditLink and many other services nationwide–shared resources as a means of disrupting expense.”

The perfect situation

When asked about his favorite part of the job, Kimberling didn’t hesitate, “Easy, it’s working with the employees at both U.P. State and Chippewa County. What I have learned since joining the credit union movement is that people become like a second family. I’m fortunate to be a part of both families.”

Kimberling also had an incredibly astute observation: “I think sharing an employee can definitely work for any size credit union. I think this is especially true in rural areas where credit unions often have a hard time finding employees with a particular skill set.”

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