Getting your investment program off to a strong start is important, but credit unions must also ensure they continue to grow those programs on an ongoing basis. Here’s how.
Once an investment program has been established, there are several high-level elements necessary for ongoing program development, begining with integration, says Kevin Mummau, executive vice president of program development for CUSO Financial Services (CFS). The true pinnacle of integration is when promotion of the program rolls off the tongue of everyone at the credit union with the same confidence and conviction as for other core services. It is program support at all levels of the organization which makes that possible; to get that support, you need a broker dealer that can educate the staff at all levels on investment program best practices.
The most important things are those best practices that are based on what works best for credit unions and their customers. Access to open forums for collaboration between institutions is invaluable, says Mummau. CFS, for example, recently had their CEO and Executive Conference that brought together executives from credit unions across the country to share investment program best practices. Executives were able to compare, discuss, and share strategies with their peers in similar financial institutions, as well as hear presentations from CFS leaders on industry benchmarks and proven tactics. In addition to the executive level, CFS also hold their Program Managers’ Forum, as well as an annual conference that brings together all stakeholders, from executives, program managers, and advisors, to learn, network, and share best practices. When we talk to our clients after one of our conferences, Mummau relates Their key takeaway is almost always, I thought I was supporting the program and understood what that meant, but I realized there are different best practices unique to credit unions, and I learned so much more of what I need to do for my program to succeed.’ By enabling them to network with their peers, we help them get to the next level.
The second element a broker dealer should have for ongoing program development is a technology infrastructure designed to support the building and management of an investment program within a credit union. The needs of credit unions are different from those of independent, stand-alone representatives, and broker dealers should offer specific technology tools designed for institutions. For example, the technology should be able to create reports for the executive board, or enable sales reporting to manage a group of representatives. Home Banking Integration is a key technology differentiator for CFS, explains Mummau. Our home banking integration is a seamless, turnkey system that lets clients view their investment portfolio alongside their other banking accounts. It’s a single-sign-on system that provides a live feed so clients always know where their investment portfolio stands. Plus it’s all branded with the credit union’s look and feel. It’s one of our most popular technology systems.
Support systems are another necessary element for successful ongoing program development. A strong broker dealer support system should include working with a company’s management team on a close, day-to-day basis to ensure integration of program best practices. Systems should run the gamut from marketing support, to training, to recruiting, and beyond. As part of our support, we help programs analyze their production to create targeted marketing campaigns for their client demographics, says Mummau. We also help our programs source reps with the acumen to be successful within the credit union, then train the reps to work within a branch network. These are the types of support systems that are uniquely designed for credit unions.
Where Do You Start?
The most important thing you need to do is achieve that integration I talked about, and you begin by educating management and staff about the importance of the investment program in their business model, Mummau says. Work with a broker dealer that helps demonstrate how investment programs build better client relationships. There are many ways to prove the value of an investment program. For example, we help credit unions conduct studies on the profitability of a client who has investments versus one who does not. We also look at demographics to see which clients the programs are helping most. Most of all, we show them how simple it is to be successful by holding their hand through all the steps along the way. It’s called ongoing support. No one ever became truly successful without a good mentor. Our job as a broker dealer is to be that mentor for our clients.
Kevin Mummau is the Executive Vice President of Program Development for CUSO Financial Services, LP. Mr. Mummau oversees the CFS relationship management team, managed investment programs, and program development initiatives. He guides credit union clients on the importance of strong ongoing investment program development as well as ways to measure success and what to do if a program is not performing to its full potential.
Learn more about CFS and how it support investment programs within credit unions at http://www.cusonet.com.