The future of credit unions depends on the ability to grow and be competitive. Since their inception almost 20 years ago, Credit Union Service Organizations (CUSOs) have played an ever-expanding and influential role in the credit union movement, providing service and products that have helped the credit union industry successfully compete with larger, more recognized financial institutions. Over those 20 years, CUSOs have evolved into operational, financial, and politically influential organizations.
Credit union cooperation has cultivated the growth of multi-owned CUSOs, which in turn has contributed greatly to strengthening the bottom line for their partnering credit unions and improving the financial lives of their members. And being at the forefront of cooperative innovation, CUSOs have become the driving force by which credit unions have been able to expand these products and services, including areas such as auto lending, credit cards, mortgage lending, data processing, ATMs, marketing, and shared branches, among others.
Whether by developing new products, services, or efficient business models, they’ve provided innovation and differentiation for credit unions, vital to driving growth and achieving a competitive advantage in the financial services industry. CUSOs are a testament to the true power of collaboration through their successful efforts to:
- Enhance credit union market power through aggregation and leveraging of resources
- Accelerate production of product solutions and services through shared research and development
- Provide joint ownership of intellectual capital, business processes, and delivery channels
- Reinvest in the credit union economy, which will support the entire industry
Successful CUSOs will provide credit unions with both improved pricing and stronger vendor relationships. Unlike partnering with an outside vendor, partnering with a CUSO to develop products and services offers the credit union to be part of the strategic process and allows them to prioritize projects to truly meet their individual needs.
There are a number of factors that could influence a credit union’s hesitancy to partner with a CUSO – reasons ranging from fear of risking market share, independence and authority, to wanting to ensure the preservation of self-interest. Further, there is a view shared by some that CUSOs are less sophisticated than outside vendors.
For CUSOs to overcome these barriers and views, they first need to be competitive with the open marketplace to allow credit unions to compete. Secondly, they need to offer new solutions that create value for credit unions and their members. To accomplish both of these goals, it is essential that they develop technology that advances the quality of their products and services, providing the tools and solutions that will improve the ways credit unions do business.
CUDL has continued to successfully develop and expand their platform offering to credit unions over the last 10 years by providing advanced technology solutions as well as educational and marketing services that focus on achieving credit unions’ auto lending goals. A key educational tool, CUDL’s annual Auto Lending Symposium provides credit union executives with vital insight to a variety of important topics including:
- Effective cross-selling to indirect lending consumers
- Vehicle Remarketing
- Loan Servicing & Collections
- Best practices in marketing and operations
As a result, credit unions on the CUDL platform have benefited from a significant decrease in overall costs for processing loans from dealerships, as well as a dramatic increase in market share in the point-of-sale and indirect auto loan marketplace.
The combination of collaboration and innovation shared between CUSOs and credit unions has had a vital impact on the credit union industry. For the industry to thrive and become a stronger force in the financial marketplace, the relationship between CUSOs and credit unions must continue to grow.
For more information visit CUDL at www.cudl.com.
*This article originally appeared in the online version of Credit Union Magazine, July 2006 (www.creditunionmagazine.com).