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big. bright. minds.·Careers·Collaboration·Community Development·Conferences·Crash·Crash Event·Creativity·CUNA·CUNA Mutual Group·Filene·Gen Y·Ideas·Innovation·Leadership·Lending·Meetups·News Release·Professional Development·Updates

November is Crash-tastic!

Can you believe it’s almost November already? (Or it might be November when you’re reading this – in which case, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?). What does November bring? A change in leaves? A change in weather? Thanksgiving? A countdown to Christmas? (As I write this, it’s just 62 days until Christmas day!). 

But you know what else November brings us?!?! TWO CRASH EVENTS! That’s right… TWO! Our Crashers have been selected and we’d love for you to meet them.

Head over here to meet our Crashers for Crash CUNA Lending Council in San Diego, CA.

And go in this direction to meet our Crashers for Crash big. bright. minds. in Tucson, AZ.

The Cooperative Trust is a Filene community. Everything we do is made possible by Credit Union National Association. Crash CUNA Lending Council is supported by Twenty Twenty Analytics and Crash big. bright. minds. is supported by CUNA Mutual Group.

Crash the 1·Lending·Professional Development·Updates

Crashed the ’13 CUNA Lending Conference

Our version of how the West was won!



I’m home now relaxing on my couch, and mentally reviewing the 2013 CUNA Lending Conference.  I’m sure everyone’s expecting this article to be a little gushy, incredibly biased, and a little “Hooray, Crashers”, and that is exactly what you are going to get.  What a blast it was!

Day One

I met up with the Crash team (Mike London, Ellen Kohout, Allison Kretovic, Stacey Johnson and Brittney Wensley)    early Sunday morning for breakfast, introductions and to receive our volunteer T-shirts and ball caps.  We boarded the bus with other conference attendees and vendors, and made our way to the ICM Food & Clothing Bank.  “ICM” formerly “Interfaith Cooperative Ministries” currently serves 150 families six days a week.  We had individuals from cooperatively-owned credit unions from across the nation converging in a single spot to help out another cooperative.  This stuck with me as I am a big fan of the cooperative movement – not just the credit union movement.  Cooperative Principle #6 was in full effect, y’all!

After the volunteer event we made it back to the resort and Mike London instructed us “rookie” Crashers to prepare for the orientation that evening.  I took “prepare” to mean “nap it up,” and that’s exactly what I did.

Orientation arrived and everyone was well-rested and still buzzing from the feel-good vibes the volunteer event created.  We were introduced to a roomful of CEO’s, vice presidents and other upper management credit unionists, and then played a little Human Bingo – a fun break-the-ice game.  The festivities spilled into the adjacent ballroom where dinner and drinks were served, and the mingling continued.

Day Two & Three

Breakfast was served at 7am each morning promptly followed by keynote addresses from Josh Linkner who shared five ideas to drive creativity (Day Two), Mike Schenk who provided an economic forecast (Day Three) and J.B. Orrechia of SavvyMoney who provided insight into household financial management and how it relates to credit unions.  The breakout sessions commenced, and everyone would scatter to sessions ranging from MBL’s to mortgage lending to becoming a Jedi master in Excel (props to Mike!).  Day two wrapped with a western-themed casino night which brought out a number of interesting cowboy and cowgirl costumes and photo opps (see above)!  Day three wrapped with an evening on our own which meant a very nice dinner with the management team behind SavvyMoney.

From left: Ellen Kohout, Stacey Johnson, Brittney Wensley, Dan Roam, Zac Jones and Michael London.

Day Four

Breakfast kicked the day off and then we were treated to a rather engaging General Session held by West Region Director Edwin Chow of the CFPB.  He fielded a number of questions from the audience, and took questions after his presentation.  This included my inquiry about the CFPB’s stand on Bitcoin to which he responded his agency is in “wait and see” mode.

After a brief break, Dan Roam, best-selling author and speaker, discussed solving problems visually, and using pictures to sell your solutions.  Dan’s session, the final session of the conference, was captivating and enlightening.

The conference was adjourned, handshakes, hugs and smiles were exchanged and even a few photobombs were witnessed.  All in all, this opportunity granted all attendees a few days of education, new experiences and most of all, ample occasions for networking.

Lending·Professional Development

The 2013 CUNA Lending Council Conference Crashers

We’re ready to announce our Crashers for the 3rd annual, Crash the CUNA Lending Council Conference event. This group of Crashers will get to participate in a volunteer event at the ICM Food & Clothing Bank, attend sessions on today’s most important lending topics, and work with executive mentors on lending related projects that will be published on the CUNA Lending Council website.

In no particular order, this year’s Crashers are:

Allison Kretovic, Manager – Real Estate Fulfillment at Delta Community CU

Ellen Kohout, Business Process Analyst at Thrivent FCU

Zackary Jones, Business Services Manager at Amplify FCU

Stacey Johnson, Commercial Loan Officer at Superior Choice CU

Brittney Wensley, Mortgage Processor at Sunmark Federal CU

Watch out, Phoenix! The Crashers are coming!

Gen Y·Lending·Professional Development

I’m Going to Miami, Welcome to Miami, Crash Miami!

As soon as I found out I was headed to Miami for the CUNA Lending Council Conference as a Crasher, it was as if Will Smith and his beaches full of bikini clad women had taken up residence in my head. In Upstate New York as soon as October hits we break out the snowsuits and bury the swim suits and beach chairs into the creepy back corners of our attics and basements. I was lucky enough to be chosen along with four other Crashers to “work” in Miami! Add to that the fact that one week before we were all set to leave while Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the East Coast, plunging 8 million people into darkness and obliterating homes.

So from my perspective I was super lucky.  What an amazing opportunity to join together with my peers and more seasoned members of the industry to talk shop, learn new approaches, and reinforce the crazy cool bond between credit unions.

Our amazing journey began Nov. 3rd where we all converged on Miami from the far reaches of the country. The Crashers represented 5 different states, 5 different credit unions, and 5 different perspectives of what to expect from the 4 day conference.  The message conveyed to us prior to arrival was: Rest up Sunday morning starts real early!

Sunday morning we were privileged to personify the credit union creed of  “people helping people.” Bright and early we teamed up with numerous other credit union peeps and made our way the the Miami Children’s Hospital. As a group we came bearing donations of toys and activity books as well as an enthusiasm that I think is unique to credit union volunteers. While some of the Crashers – I won’t name names :-) – seemed to be a little worse for the wear after hitting the hot spots with Crasher alums the night before, we were all in good spirits as we got down and dirty in the butterfly garden helping the grounds crew clean up trash and leaves.  Having started our day with a tour of the hospital and a presentation on how our efforts changed so many lives, it was easy to ignore the heat and the potential creepy crawlies one might encounter when working out doors.  We all wanted to put our best effort into the clean up.

Florida Champion

After getting cleaned up we were able to spend some time on the all important beach while we prepared for the onslaught of information we were about to receive. Sunday evening we attended an orientation for first time attendees. It was at this point I personally became a little awestruck. Just this small sampling of  people represented CEOs, loan officers, marketing people, long time credit union staffers, and new comers (like me). I firmly believe that in any other place this small sampling would’ve separated off into groups based on these “designations”, instead the Executive Committee of the Lending Council had us all playing people BINGO, yelling, laughing and getting to know each other.

Monday morning started what I call the marathon of sessions,  starting off with a presentation from Brett King (if you don’t know who that is find out, you certainly start thinking a little differently). From there it became a choose your own adventure story in real life. Four sessions a day, 8 topics to choose from and absolutely no way to go wrong.  Every session was filled with an overwhelming amount of new and exciting ideas and methods. At some points I found myself thinking…wow, I feel so undereducated. But then I realized the people attending these sessions are from bigger credit unions, have been on the job longer, and they still see the value of honing their skills and trying new things.

As Crashers we were given a project to work on and present to members of the Executive Committee. We were asked to evaluate attitudes and behaviors of Gen Y towards debt, savings, and financial institutions. The challenge was daunting, but with the limited time we had, I can safely say we did quite a job on it. Using our Facebook networks we pushed out a 10 question survey with a goal of at least 30 responses from our family and friends. When we finally pulled the data in we had over 150 responses from a wide rage of ages, education levels, and employment statuses.  What we saw was surprising in some ways. Without follow up questions it was difficult to draw too many conclusions but the graphs showed the Gen Y seemed to behave in a way that seems to mirror the behavior of other generations. Tuesday night after some really fast and beautiful work by Mike (our fearless leader), we presented our findings to two members of the Executive Committee.

Knowing that our work was done we were able to enjoy our last night in Miami networking, processing all of our new knowledge, and basking in the wonderful weather. Wednesday morning dawned with packing,  flight checking (I personally had to find a way around La Guardia which was barely a week after being under water being pounded with a snow storm), and some fun low key sessions. First was Behavioral Economics, which for nerds like me was really exciting and interesting. To close out the conference we got to hear Lt. Col. Robert Darling speak about his part in the response to the attacks on 9/11. It was an amazing end to an incredible experience.

And so I wrap up this incredibly lengthy word vomit with a great big THANK YOU to the people involved in facilitating our Crash experience. It was an invaluable opportunity that I was lucky to share with four other amazing Crashers.



Loan Questions

Hey guys!  We’re reviewing our loan policies and procedures as the market has oviously changed.  How do you guys rate/judge excessive student loan debt that has been deffered?  Anything helps!  Thanks


Crowdfunding is about to blow up, yall.

A new bill on the block will take crowdfunding (like that of and gives it a serious boost, allowing any Joe to invest in new businesses.

This brings the idea of the long-tail directly into 1) Investing for consumers, and 2) Access to capital for entrepreneurs.

And, since the small biz lending cap is such an issue with credit unions right now, this is definitely something that should be on everyone’s radar.

From the Economist:

The Entrepreneur Access to Capital Act aims to make it easier for small businesses to raise money through ‘crowdfunding’. For the first time ordinary investors would be allowed to put up to $10,000 in small businesses that are not registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission, enabling Joe Schmo to win big if the company becomes the next Google.

Some non-profits and small businesses already raise money through crowdfunding. Websites allow entrepreneurs to post information about their business plan and to offer perks, such as T-shirts, in return for “donations”; but current securities laws allow only ‘accredited investors’, rich folk supposedly aware of risks of the venture, to buy a financial stake in the business.

So what do we think? Opportunity or threat? What should we be doing about this?

More on this from Forbes:

And, for you serious nerds, here’s the bill itself:

(Trippy image credit: FFFFOUND!)

Business Development·Lending

Help…trying to implement new VISA program

Hey Crashers!!

I am hoping you all could help me/guide me in the right direction. My Credit Union is currently trying to do a huge update to our VISA program. Right now we are implementing a program called performance reward pricing (pretty much the same as risk based without all the legalities) but we were told that we would have to start following risk based compliance and update all our disclosures. We are a small asset size credit union and literally do not have the man power to implement a risk base VISA program in order to keep up with Reg requirements. What do you all do?? Are most credit unions on a risk based VISA program or are you implementing variable pricing?? Any help or suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated!!!!

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