FARMERS BRANCH, Texas (7/1/14)--One year ago today, the credit union leagues of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas became one. Today, the Cornerstone Credit Union League is the largest credit union league in the country, serving 557 credit unions which in turn serve more than 9.5 million consumers.
Member credit unions have and will continue to benefit from this consolidation, said league CEO Dick Ensweiler.
Points of access provided by the Cornerstone Credit Union League in its first year include:
"Consolidation has enabled us to harness the expertise and resources of each respective league. Our name may have changed, but our commitment to credit unions and the movement has not," said Ensweiler. "Drawing on the talents and experience of a diverse staff of 119, we are well positioned to respond to the needs of our member credit unions and deliver the outstanding products, services and resources they have grown accustomed to."
Tandie Lee Kenser, president, Garland County Educators FCU, Hot Springs, Ark., with $3.4 million in assets, said she believes the consolidation was necessary. "The Arkansas and Texas credit union leagues had already been collaborating in a number of areas including education and compliance, without the validity of true oneness," she said. "In my opinion as the leader of a small credit union, this change has been extremely positive. The quantity and quality of dues-based services have increased dramatically, the library of information is easily accessible, and the willingness of peers to work together is something I have never experienced before."
Sean Cahill, president/ CEO of Southwest 66 CU, Odessa, Texas, said he was initially concerned about the consolidation. "The Texas Credit Union League, to me, was the best league in the country, and I was worried that services may suffer with the consolidation," Cahill said.
"But the absolute opposite has occurred," he added. "Cornerstone has taken things to a whole new level and I could not be more impressed. The dues services are incredible, and the non-dues services provided through Credit Union Resources are world class. I use Cornerstone and Resources as much as I can because I know they have my best interests at heart. The leadership between both of these businesses lives and demonstrates the credit union motto every single day."
In hindsight, consolidation was the right decision, Cahill said. "The combined power of the three states collaborating together has brought new and exciting ideas to the table, as well as connecting the credit unions in these three states," he added. "I feel like my network has expanded as a result of the consolidation. And I do feel the league is in a better position to serve our needs, especially with regard to advocacy."
Cornerstone is headquartered in Dallas and maintains offices and a strong presence in the state capitols of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Cornerstone also has a satellite office in Houston, Texas. Advocacy remains a critical area of focus for the league, so maintaining a presence in Austin, Little Rock, and Oklahoma City was a necessity, according to Cornerstone Paul Trylko, the league's board chairman.
"Being politically engaged is essential for the continued growth and prosperity of our movement," Trylko said. "It's important that lawmakers know that we are present, engaged and ready to defend and protect the rights of consumers who depend on credit unions to meet their financial needs."
Mike Kloiber, president/CEO, Tinker FCU, Oklahoma City, Okla., who was involved in the consolidation efforts from the beginning, feels it has exceeded expectations in the first year. "The feedback in Oklahoma is very positive, and the concerns held by many regarding the loss of identity and becoming lost in a bigger trade organization has proved unfounded by most everyone," Kloiber said.
While the consolidation has offered many benefits to member-credit unions, Kloiber highlights the following as the top three benefits: