SAN FRANCISCO (7/1/14)--For the 1,200 credit union professionals converging in San Francisco, there are countless reasons to attend the Credit Union National Association's 2014 America's Credit Union Conference (ACUC).
Some want to come up to speed on the latest technology, others want to pounce on unique opportunities to learn how to incorporate more financial education into their credit union's operations. And this year they get to do that while taking in the bustling sights and sounds of a certain vibrant city by the bay, when there is time.
But there's one theme that seems to underlie all motivations for coming to ACUC, and that's for the chance to network and interact with credit union professionals from throughout the country. This incentive is especially high for small credit unions.
"Get out of your shops so you know what's going on, get (up to date) within the 21st century at least, and it's very important to network, very important," Linda Cappella, president/CEO of Credit Union ONE Inc., North Jackson, Ohio, with $10.8 million in assets, told News Now before Monday's small credit union roundtable.
"Small credit unions have a tendency to stay in their own little cocoon and their own little world and they operate like they always did, and that just isn't going to work anymore. It's not sufficient anymore."
Joni Senkpeil, director of small credit union development at the Illinois Credit Union League and the Credit Union Magazine CU Hero of the Year--honored Monday at the first general session of ACUC--could not agree more.
"It's really a networking opportunity, you learn so much from other credit unions, and if any industry can do it best, it's credit unions when you're talking about collaborating and that kind of thing," Senkpeil told News Now. "We've got to join together, join hands and we can do it easily. It's part of our foundation."
In truth, however, there are additional opportunities beyond networking to take advantage of at ACUC.
Brett Weber, who sits on the supervisory board of Allegiance CU, Oklahoma City, with $247 million in assets, for example, wants to increase his knowledge of the financial services industry in general, as his background is in IT.
Further, Weber is in search of ways to ramp up interest in credit unions by younger generations, which are noticeably missing at his credit union.
"We don't have as many volunteers of the younger generations to come up and help with supervisory committee, board of directors, volunteering and things like that," Weber told News Now. "I don't know if there could be some type of program to help gain interest for the Gen Xers out there that would want to volunteer for their credit union, something like that that would get new blood."
Weber plans to attend several of the young professional discovery sessions CUNA has planned for the week.
Cappella, meanwhile, is interested in learning about advances in technology that her credit union might be able to take advantage of.
"Technology is moving rapidly," Cappella said. "You blink and it's something new. Every day we're getting a new program, a new update and that's difficult, that is very difficult."
But in the end, no matter what each credit union professional takes away from the conference, they know they will leave with new relationships, which can be leveraged to improve credit unions nationwide.
"I gotta tell you it's the people sitting in the seats (here)...," Senkpeil told News Now. "There's a lot of products and a lot of economies of scale that you can take advantage of in certain companies, and you have to look at that."