A Look Ahead with Bob Trunzo

CUNA Mutual Group’s new CEO aims to help CUs expand their member relationships.

December 26, 2013

Bob Trunzo is slated to become the eighth president/CEO of CUNA Mutual Group January 1, 2014, succeeding the retiring Jeff Post.

Bob is no stranger to CUNA Mutual. He has held several senior leadership positions since coming to the company in 2005, most recently as president of CUNA Mutual Group Insurance and Financial Services.

A native of Louisville, Ky., Bob earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kentucky and a law degree from Marquette University. He completed the Kellogg School of Management Executive Program at Northwestern University in 2011, and he served as Secretary of Commerce under former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson.

With the New Year quickly approaching, Credit Union Magazine caught up with Bob to hear his thoughts surrounding his upcoming move to the corner office.

CU Magazine: CUNA Mutual Group has a distinguished legacy spanning some 78 years. You’re now going to take the helm and will shape that legacy during your tenure as CEO. What do you consider as your key tools for success in leading the company forward?

Trunzo: I think our employees are a huge part of the equation and a huge part of our success. We have 3,000-plus employees dedicated to doing the right thing every day for credit unions and credit union members.

What really matters to credit unions and credit union members? Well, I think the answer lies with our employees. They live and breathe credit unions. They know them and are committed to serving them.

And, most important, under Jeff’s tenure we’ve gotten to be a lot better listeners. We’ve gotten a lot better at understanding what they need and responding to what they need.

We spend a lot of time in our company listening very carefully to what our customers say, either through surveys or through our voice of customer process. We continue to listen, and when you listen to your customer you do the right thing.

When you listen to your customer you build trust with that customer.

CU Magazine: How do you see the future unfolding for credit unions, and what is CUNA Mutual Group’s role in helping them shape that future?

Trunzo: I think we have a big advantage because Jeff has left the company in terrific shape. We have record capital. Our governance structure is strong. We’ve reinvested in a lot of our key products.

So if you look at the future, it’s complex and it’s changing. But I see credit unions continuing to have a terrific opportunity to be their members’ primary financial institution.

Certainly that means that we as a partner to credit unions have to be relevant to their members. As credit unions seek to expand their relationship as the primary financial institution of their members, we can help them.

We can bring the right products to the table for those credit unions and credit union members, and the right channels they want—channels that are focused on the future be it the Web, mobile, or email. That’s what we can bring to the table.

One thing that’s true for the entire financial services industry: if you look at community banks or if you look at large banks, it’s all about expanding their relationship with their customers.

Credit unions are no different. They want to do that, too. They need to do that and we’re a partner who can help them achieve those goals and objectives.

CU Magazine: You worked closely with Jeff for the past several years, so you know the game plan and the strategy that’s in place to score. Will we see you hitting for the fence or going for a string of singles?

Trunzo: Well, scoring is definitely important. I’d like to string together some singles and score some runs.

A big part of it is to really help credit unions with a strategy for them to score. If they score and their members score, then CUNA Mutual scores. And, I think the most important thing to do in the game is to remain flexible and adapt to any and all changing conditions that we may face.

Jeff has talked a lot in the industry trade press about the complex nature of the financial services industry and how fast it changes. So in addition to hitting some timely singles, we also have to adjust to the pitching.

We have to adjust to the environment, and continue to be flexible and relevant so we can effectively respond to changes in the marketplace; changes dictated by factors that we can’t predict right now.

The beauty of great companies is that they can respond, and they can be relevant, and they can provide value. That’s what we need to do and think about in the future.

I think part of our success over the last half dozen years has been our ability to do just that, but in a more timely and quicker fashion.

In our lending suite, you see us offering mobile apps that help the member link to the credit union. You see us designing and working with credit union members on accessing products the way they want to access them, be it mobile or otherwise.

That’s something we wouldn’t be able to do, nor would we even think about doing, seven or 10 years ago. To be a great company, you not only have to be aware of the trends, you also have to respond to the trends quickly.