Hello and thank you for joining us for the June edition of the Michigan Priority Report.

Before we begin, I’d like to announce to announce that our Michigan Credit Union League President and COO Ken Ross has submitted his resignation and will be taking a new position outside the organization. On behalf of MCUL & Affiliates, I extend my heartfelt thanks to Ken for his service during these past five years. I’m confident that he’ll bring his strong skills, dedication and passion for excellence to his new role. 

Effective immediately, I’ll assume Ken’s responsibilities until we’re able to name a successor. His direct reports will report to me, and I will once again return to my prior responsibilities with AACUL, and be responsible for all internal and external communications on behalf of the League. We’ve begun the search process for an executive vice president and COO of the Michigan Credit Union League, and will look both internally and externally to fill that position.


In the meantime, I’d like to thank everyone who joined us for the 2018 Annual Convention and Exposition in Traverse City. Not only was the event a great venue for professionals to share and learn about the latest in the credit union industry, but it was also a productive week of fundraising.

Early Wednesday, the convention kicked off with the CMN Golf Outing, which raised roughly $32,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and the Michigan Credit Union Foundation. Later that evening, the Foundation brought back Corks for a Cause for the third consecutive year. The event, which brings together wine, networking and community support, has grown each year. This year, the Foundation sold 372 bottles of wine, raising more than $22,203 for community development outreach!

Community development efforts on display at this year’s convention included the MCUL Innovation Award-winning Limestone Federal Credit Union. Showcased at our annual award breakfast, Limestone leveraged an MCUF grant to help students from Manistique High School open The Grind Coffee House. A nonprofit business that trains high school students to be real entrepreneurs by starting and operating a small business, The Grind is a truly amazing story.

But this is just one of countless inspiring stories here in Michigan. Now, with more than 55 percent of credit unions making an annual donation, the Michigan Credit Union Foundation enjoys strong financial support from the credit union community. We have the funds, now we need you to put them to good use! Whether your credit union would like to launch an innovative project like the Grind, provide support for a skilled trades program, start an in-school branch or something new and unique, a community reinvestment grant can help make a difference. Contact MCUF Executive Director Beth Troost before June 30 to explore impact ideas and grants.

Throughout the event, the League also held its CMN Auction. The event began with our silent auction culminating in Friday evening’s live auction. The auction raised almost another $67,000 benefiting the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. These critical funds help children like our AC&E special guest, Jonny Hendricks. Jonny was diagnosed in with Leukemia in September of 2013. He’s a strong young man that’s had to deal with more than his fair share of challenges. But in the face of adversity, he's a positive and happy 11-year-old boy that loves school, swimming, playing with friends and video games. In his own words, "Tough times don't last ... tough kids do!” Once again, I’d like to thank everyone who supported Jonny and the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through the CMN Auction.

I’m pleased to report that in total, with funds from the golf outing, live and silent auctions, credit union donations and CU Solutions Group donation matching, we raised approximately $113,000 for the Children’s Miracle Network – that’s something we can all be proud of!

At the Annual Membership Meeting, Ken and I briefed the leaders of the Michigan credit union community on the current state of MCUL priorities. Also during the meeting, Chairman of the Board John Buckley formally introduced Karen Church as the new Chairperson of the MCUL board.

A special AC&E recap page is now live at MCUL.org. The page is a great source for keynote and other presentation highlights, handouts, media and other information.


For credit unions in Michigan and across the nation, the big news this month is the passage of S. 2155 — the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act. A major victory and a topic of discussion at last week’s convention, the bill passed through the House on May 22nd and was signed into law by the President on May 24th.

In her video address to AC&E attendees, Senator Debbie Stabenow thanked Michigan credit unions for their tireless work in support of Michigan families and businesses. She said that she was proud to cast her vote in support of regulatory reform — that the bill will remove many of the barriers placed in front of community-based financial institutions.

She also voiced her commitment to preserving credit unions’ not-for-profit tax status. As a member of the Senate Finance Committee, she vowed to continue to defend our tax status from those who would change or eliminate it. Standing by credit unions both through tax reform and regulatory relief, we commend Senator Stabenow on her continued leadership.

Once again, while we scored an important victory with the passage of S. 2155, our work is far from over. With an update to the Federal Credit Union Act and data breach legislation in front of us, it’s important to stay engaged — especially with fundraising efforts. Benefitting our state PAC, MCUL lapel pins are currently available, and benefitting the federal PAC, Grand Raffle tickets are starting to make their way to participating credit unions. Your involvement in PAC support and grassroots action makes a difference.

Also, our annual golf outing, benefitting the ASFM issue advocacy fund, is July 18th at the Forest Akers Golf Course in East Lansing. ASFM, a bipartisan fund set up to promote the credit union difference, defends against anti-credit union political efforts and promotes credit union-friendly issues. We urge you to register for this year’s golf outing or take advantage of a sponsorship opportunity.


In regulatory news, with recreational cannabis set to hit Michigan’s ballot this November, cannabis banking is a growing topic of discussion. Following up on several cannabis-banking sessions at AC&E, MCUL recently published a cannabis-banking toolkit.

This kit, now available for download at MCUL.org, includes guidance for board relations, business plan development, compliance and regulation, technology, staff training and exit strategy. It also offers considerations for working with legal counsel, vendors, business partners and regulators.


Turning to our cooperative advertising campaign, CU Link, the MCUL communications team is baselining campaign progress by leveraging consumer research and tracking engagement. Pulling benchmark data from first quarter media buys, it’s clear that our advertising efforts are making an impact.

Trends show increased activity in consumer engagement and return on investment, and overall, CU Link is outperforming industry standards. Specifically, search advertising resulted in higher-than-industry-standard conversion rates and lower-than-industry-standard cost-per-click rates. While social media compromises only 28 percent of the media budget, it’s also producing outstanding results.

As we map out media buys for the remainder of 2018, and begin planning for 2019, this data will be helpful in tracking the total awareness of the CU Link campaign and with the development future messaging.


Finally, before switching focus to CU Solutions Group, I’d like to remind everyone that our Annual Membership Survey is open now through June 30th. As we review our progress in 2018 and plan for 2019, we want to pause and gather your feedback on how we’re meeting your expectations and where there’s room for improvement. If you haven’t already, please visit MCUL.org/Survey and make your voice heard.


Switching focus to CU Solutions Group, during my presentation at the AC&E, I unveiled the latest addition to the LifeSteps Wallet product line: LifeSteps Wallet Lite. Like its fully-customizable counterpart, LifeSteps Wallet Lite is built to go far beyond the traditional banking app. In addition to the standard banking tools your members expect, the app includes features like local business directories, resources built around home and auto as well as financial wellness tools.

Just like the full LifeSteps Wallet app, these features engage members at their own pace and on their own terms while guiding them back to your credit union’s products and services. While the lite version slims down customization options, we’ve made certain that it maintains core functionality. This makes LifeSteps Wallet Lite a great option especially for small- and mid-sized credit unions seeking to enter the mobile space with an app that’s guaranteed to surprise and delight members.

While CUSG continues to develop new technologies like LifeSteps Wallet, we also remain focused on tried-and-true products like web design and hosting. The Technology Solutions team just completed its second of 10 planned CMS updates for 2018. This second batch of updates includes enhancements to our popular form-builder module, new ADA web accessibility tools and an important update to the app framework that enables white-labeling.

This new white-labeling feature allows vendors to customize and brand CUSG’s content management system and offer it to their own clients. CUSG is already in conversations with several CUSOs who hope to go live mid-summer. Of course, any CUSO interested in leveraging this technology is invited to reach out to CUSG management.


In Marketing Solutions news, I’m pleased to announce that CUSG and Sprint have agreed to add another year to our current agreement. Since launching the new Sprint Credit Union Member Cash Rewards program in January 2017, month after month, the program continues to outperform expectations. Members receive large-dollar cash rewards, CUSG and participating credit unions enjoy revenue share and Sprint continues to grow its customer base. The program provides value for everyone involved, so it’s no surprise that both Sprint and CUSG were pleased to extend the relationship.

Furthermore, our contract extension couldn’t have happened at a better time. As many of you have heard, in late April, Sprint and T-Mobile entered into a merger agreement. Planning to combine forces by mid-2019, this new company will have the network and resources needed to create a broad and deep 5G network. This means extended reach, and better and faster service. Looking forward, we see room for growth and reason for optimism. This new partnership is something we’re sure to hear more about in the coming months, so stay tuned.

With an additional 21 credit unions joining the program this year, the 2017 tax season ended strong for CUSG and Intuit TurboTax. Now, with more than 1,500 credit unions offering CUSG’s TurboTax discount, the Marketing Solutions team generated four percent program growth over 2016’s record-setting tax season. While this was slightly shy of an ambitious target, we still stand firm as Intuit’s top affinity partner in the financial sector. Intuit and CUSG teams have setup postseason review and collaboration sessions and are already gearing up for a new, productive 2018 tax season.


Finally, the Performance Solutions division is collecting excellent feedback on its latest innovation: Planning Pro. The strategic and operational planning application was released in the Michigan market in early 2018. Based on strong, positive reception, our sales and business development teams are preparing for nationwide expansion.

As I discussed in my recent CEO Connect column, conventional wisdom suggests that every board and its CEO understands the importance of good, well-structured planning. However, those plans tend to come in all shapes and sizes. They often fit the personality and background of the CEO. Leaders with analytical backgrounds leverage heavy data, charts and graphs. CEOs with business development or operational backgrounds tend to emphasize marketing and sales. Some like structure and formality, some don’t...

Regardless of your focus or framework, all credit unions can benefit from software that helps create structured plans, then tracks the progress of your priorities. That’s precisely the feedback we’re hearing from clients: PlanningPro organizes plans and prioritizes tracking in a way that meets the needs of a wide variety of styles and approaches.

It’s a versatile product that can also tie into CUSG’s Performance Pro. This helps the CEO and all management staff monitor plan progress in a collaborative and efficient way. Early product feedback is also showing that clients are impressed with Planning Pro’s turnkey reports. The reports are simple but thorough, and easy to generate so that CEOs can make powerful impressions with their boards. We’re eager to work with more credit unions as we develop the future of this dynamic product. Reach out to the Performance Solutions team for more information.


That’s all for the June edition of the MCUL & Affiliates Priority Report. Thank you once again for joining us. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with comments or questions. See you next month.


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