Posted by Mr. Anil Sharma, Marketing Manager, CO-OP Financial Services on 10/31/2019

The industry’s premier credit union conference, THINK 20, will take place deep in the heart of Texas, May 4-7, 2020 at the exquisite Omni Dallas Hotel. And to give credit unions in the region a warm Texas welcome, CO-OP is teaming up with Cornerstone to provide a deeply discounted $799 rate – a 60% savings off the full registration price.

“We’re absolutely thrilled to bring THINK 20 to the Lone Star State,” said Samantha Paxson, Chief Experience Officer for CO-OP. “Dallas is a natural choice for us because of all the great technology partners in the region, coupled with our large state-of-the-art Contact Center right here in Fort Worth. Plus, CO-OP has always had a very strong partnership with Cornerstone and their service organization, CU Resources.”      

While every credit union is at a unique place in their digital transformation journey, all of us need the knowledge and tools to make the courageous choices required to seize opportunities and manage the challenges we face. THINK 20 will give credit unions the opportunity to double down on their mission and evolve into being the financial provider of the future. THINK 20 is designed to help you Activate Your Next” which is the conference theme.

Space for THINK 20 is limited, but if you register with our special $799 Cornerstone affiliated credit union rate through January 3, you will save $1,200 off the full registration! Register now with promo code: CornerstoneTHINK20.

What is YOUR next?

Whether your next step is learning how to better understand your members’ needs, build a culture of innovation, or deliver transformative technology, this conference will be all about the practical implementation of your courageous choices.

Over the course of three days, the conference will feature keynote presentations from visionaries and thought leaders mixed with more focused “Power Sprint” breakout sessions and deep dive Master Classes that connect the big ideas with “how-to” strategies. We will also showcase examples of how credit unions around the country are activating their next <insert amazing strategy here>.

Introducing THINK 20 Keynote Speaker, Scott Belsky

We are thrilled to welcome back to the THINK stage THINK 13 alum: Scott Belsky, Chief Product Officer and Executive Vice President of Adobe Creative Cloud. As the leader of product management, engineering, and design for a product line used by over 10 million creative professionals, Scott will discuss how to achieve bold initiatives and overcome the obstacles that separate vision from reality.

Why Attend THINK 20?

Over 800 credit union professionals will converge at THINK 20 to evaluate the difficult, transformational choices needed to engage members, deepen relationships and drive growth.

At THINK 20, you’ll learn how to: 

  • Design for where the growth is - Understand and translate your members’ behavior so you can make the courageous choices required to design for those who offer the greatest promise.
  • Embrace the power of Sacrifice - Identify the key experiences where your members value you most, and integrate your ops to make these experiences seamless.  Plus, gain planning and investment strategies to validate your choices for the long term.
  • Always be ready for the next - Learn how to dynamically anticipate your target’s needs by championing an inside culture of innovation and fearless collaboration--so you can play a more integral role in their financial lives now and well into the future.

Ready to Activate Your Next?

Be part of the credit union industry’s most talked-about conference. Space for THINK 20 is limited, so be sure to register today to secure your spot early! Register by January 3 and save $1,200 off the full registration rate. Use promo code: CornerstoneTHINK20

Categories: Business Partners, Education & Training
Posted by Mr. Bill Meyer, Communications/Public Relations, Credit Union Direct Lending on 10/29/2019

Consumers Credit Union wanted more – much more – out of its indirect auto lending program. The credit union was frustrated with the inefficient way dealer partners sent the credit union applications through many costly systems, which ended up in their separate loan origination system. This, combined with a desire to work with a credit union service organization (CUSO) that would be focused on its needs, Consumers Credit Union chose CU Direct’s CUDL platform.


Steve Owens, Chief Lending Officer at Consumers Credit Union, and Tim Kosak, Vice President of Consumer Lending for the $1 billion credit union, headquartered in Kalamazoo, Mich., explained that the credit union’s original indirect lending software platform was subsequently sold twice, which began the search for a new partner.


“It was a perfect storybook of what can go wrong when a loan origination system is sold to a larger company,” Kosak recalled. “[It] went from the main product to one of many products, then later it went to one-thousandth of the business. Compare that to the CUSO world – CU Direct owns CUDL, breathes it, has a passion for it.”


Owens said the credit union’s long-term goal was to find a partner with a system that would be able to deliver “exceptional value” today, and would be positioned to adapt and develop tomorrow’s solution. When he is evaluating business partners, particularly for critical business systems, he places a high priority on the strategic vision of the parent company. “Ownership structure, investment in technology, and their willingness to change and adapt in this dynamic environment is of the highest importance,” noted Owens.


Added Kosak: “CU Direct offers a partnership that goes well beyond what is available in the loan origination system marketplace today. It offers technology and indirect lending expertise, delivered using a credit union-centric model that works because it offers high value to both sides of the transaction – dealers and credit unions.”


Consumers Credit Union went live with CUDL in July 2017. The credit union considered a number of platforms, but it concluded CUDL provided the technology and capabilities that best suited its needs.


According to Kosak, the implementation process was “participative and responsive.” He said the staff at CU Direct was “engaged, even excited, to help set up our system to match our program and our very high efficiency demands.”


“We can fund an indirect loan in two screens, down from five or six screens with our previous relationship,” he added.


A better approach to indirect lending

Kosak revealed that Consumers Credit Union was tired of the approach taken by auto dealers through other platforms, sending bushels full of loan applications to the credit union even when the dealers knew the credit union would buy few, if any, of those loans. He said the switch to CUDL has helped the credit union grow its relationships with dealers.

“It is all about breaking out of the old shotgun model,” he said. “Consumers was committed to making a clean break – we wanted to be a CUDL exclusive shop to get the maximum benefit out of the CU Direct relationship.”

Western Michigan area auto dealers showed they were committed to the new Consumers Credit Union/CU Direct partnership by logging in to the CUDL portal and submitting applications specifically to the credit union, Kosak explained. “This very quickly demonstrated why this model works so well.”

The credit union’s staff also offered positive feedback after the switch to CUDL. They remarked how fast and easy the system was to operate and how well organized it presents.

Trailblazing in Western Michigan

About the only obstacle to implementing CUDL was the relative newness of the platform to Consumers CU’s marketplace. Owens said CU Direct previously had a presence with dealers in the Detroit area, but dealers there were using it only to serve their existing members.

“We are different in that 80 percent of our business is member acquisition,” Owens explained. “One by one, our dealers switched away from other indirect platforms to CUDL. It took a lot of hard work and planning, and we are anxiously awaiting other credit unions in the region to recognize the benefits of the platform and adopt it. There are some wheels in motion and we expect more credit unions to join soon.”

“This efficiency improved our approval speed dramatically and allowed us time to make calls out to dealers - and dealers noticed our improved responsiveness immediately,” Kosak recalled. “Our application quality actually improved as well.”

Another positive – and one that occurred without prompting by the credit union – dealers self-converted to CU Direct’s SmartFund program, instantly eliminating hundreds of hours of document movement and scanning. “Dealers love the convenience of SmartFund and they love how it speeds up the funding process – SmartFund became its own selling point,” noted Kosak.

Kosak pointed to numerous key numbers, virtually all of which were trending positively after the conversion to CUDL. Using received loan vehicle data (Rec excluded) from the credit union’s previous LOS for the first six months of 2017, compared to CUDL data for the first six months of 2018, the credit union experienced: an increase in weighted average credit score from 687 to 697; a decrease in weighted average LTV from 101 percent to 95 percent; a decrease in weighted average DTI from 34 percent to 29 percent; a decrease in PTI from 9 percent to 8 percent;  and, an increase in look-to-book from 22 percent to 44 percent.

“This tells me that when dealers choose to send a loan to us via CUDL, they are sending Consumer credit union deals specific to our program,” Kosak assessed.

Booked loans results had similar improvements: an increase in weighted average score from 737 to 740 and a decrease in weighted DTI from 30 percent to 27 percent. Weighted LTV remained relatively flat (88 percent vs 91 percent), while weighted PTI was level at 8 percent.

The credit union’s days-to-fund decreased from 14 days to 7 days, which Kosak said “dramatically improved” member service, allowing the credit union to connect with the new borrower while the transaction is fresh.

Furthermore, Consumers CU consistently funds loans in 12 to 36 hours, which Kosak observed is evidence of the improvement caused by dealer adoption of SmartFund. “Prior to conversion, we received about 25 percent of contracts electronically. We now receive 85 percent or more of deals electronically. We expect this to increase as we continue to build relations with new dealers.”

Happy dealers = Happy staff

The new CUDL dealer platform CU Direct released in 2018 was a “big hit” with dealers, Kosak noted, adding, “happy dealers make for happy staff.”

“CU Direct clearly listens to credit unions and works diligently to improve the system, a never-ending routine,” Kosak said. “We just signed on for analytics from the company’s Lending Insights platform. We are excited to collaborate with folks that have an analytics background.”

Owens noted that because Consumers CU is just a little over one year into the conversion to CUDL, his team is still monitoring performance closely to assure all expectations are met. “I do have a very high level of confidence we will achieve our long-term growth and productivity goals,” Owens added.

Categories: Business Partners, Strategic Planning & Consulting, Technology Consulting & Compliance
Posted by Mr. Doug Foister, Research Director, Cornerstone Credit Union League on 10/28/2019

There’s no denying that big data—large data sets that are analyzed to reveal patterns, trends, and associations—is a boon to businesses, including credit unions. The increasing volume of marketing and customer analytics that big data affords is astounding, and the use of complex data sets continues to grow. A recent Forrester report reveals that over half of brands say their marketing strategy is informed nearly or fully by big data. That’s impressive. But a strong word of caution: Do not abandon “small data” in the quest for big data.  

Discovering what motivates customers

And what is small data? While big data uses information such as clickstream, transactions, point of sale, customer relationship management tools, and demographics to describe and try to predict customer behavior, small data goes one step further and uses time-tested research methodologies, such as quality surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews to discover what motivates customers and causes them to feel and act as they do. Big data looks at WHAT customers are doing; small data explains WHY they are doing it. This is a huge distinction and highlights the essential value of small data.

Defining pain points and monitoring competitors

Let’s dig a bit deeper into small data. The Forrester research confirms that how customers think and feel about a brand are statistically significant drivers of loyalty, advocacy, and purchasing decisions. Researcher Zoe Dowling notes that small data research techniques identify pain points as well as suggest solutions. They can even help to monitor the competition. To be a strategic partner, she says, a business needs to know what its customers are struggling with and what they desire. This means listening to what’s important to them, which is accomplished by asking the customers themselves.

Providing a more in-depth understanding of customer activity

Some might argue that small data is old school or too subjective for today’s hard data-driven environment. Twitter, Facebook, Disney, Southwest Airlines, and Wells Fargo, along with many other top companies, would beg to differ. These companies actively employ small data research to obtain user feedback because they know it provides added depth of insight over big data analytics and completes the picture of customer activity.

Providing the most valuable data: What members think of their credit unions

Big data can be a tremendous asset. But many credit unions are realizing that to provide the best member experience, the most valuable data is what members think of their credit union and the products it offers. Small data is the best strategy to obtain these kinds of insights. Don’t make a significant error by overlooking the small data powerhouse.

For more information about services offered through Cornerstone’s Research Department, contact Doug Foister at 800-422-5762, ext. 6477, or

Categories: Marketing & Printing, Research
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