Six Guidelines for Building Strong CUSO/CU Partnerships

If the shoe fits...

August 16, 2010
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Guideline #3: Keep expectations reasonable.

Make sure your vendor management program is thorough and extends to CUSOs just as it does to non-CUSO partners, urges the whitepaper. And use it with all CUSOs your credit union partners with.

It’s critical that the credit union be as clear as possible about what it’s looking for in a partner. In the lending business, the credit union has the responsibility, no matter what services the CUSO has provided, to see that the loans it’s putting on the books are loans it understands and is comfortable with, from a risk standpoint.

It’s critical that both sides understand what they need and don’t need from the other party. And both parties must know what they can, and can’t, offer.

Proper due diligence should involve a great deal of research, and in the middle of that process, it may be tempting to just call supplied references. But it’s well worth the extra effort to find others.

“Cold call some of their users and get the complete story,” says Bresko. “CUSOs are part of the credit union industry, and it’s a small world. If you mess up, word gets around, whether it’s on their reference sheet or not.”

Bresko says the credit union’s size shouldn’t matter when it comes to receiving quality service from a CUSO. “For smaller credit unions, CUSOs can provide extra support and a lot of the due diligence that the credit union can’t necessarily provide. But don’t make assumptions. Be clear about what the CUSO is providing and not providing.

“Ongoing communication is critical, so changes can be made quickly. If something’s not working, address it directly so you don’t get too far off base.”

The credit union should be in the driver’s seat. While the CUSO can help guide the credit union to make certain it follows the rules and regulations, ultimately, the credit union is responsible. If something goes wrong, the credit union can’t go back to the CUSO and hold it liable. CUSOs can’t always predict every financial detail. The credit union makes the ultimate decision about every transaction on the books.

Guideline #4: If in doubt, ask, ask, then ask again.

If you don’t fully understanding any loan detail, speak up. Again, good, timely, consistent communication is the key, says Bresko. “What you’re thinking is happening and what’s really happening may be two different things.”

Lending departments need to reassess whether they can and should rely on a CUSO to comply with lending regulations, says the whitepaper. But the lending executive must be careful not to lean on the CUSO too much. Auditing and continuous monitoring are critical, in addition to having a solid understanding of the regulations yourself.

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory (www.appreciationatwork.com/assess) will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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