CUNA Compliance Mentor Match program is an example of how credit unions’ unique affinity for collaboration lifts up the industry as a whole.
This virtual program pairs experienced compliance professionals with beginners in the field, providing meaningful professional connections to fill knowledge gaps and offering valuable and timely resources in an area where credit unions often feel overburdened.
Historically a knowledge gap existed in terms of new compliance professionals learning the role, says Melisa Kallestad, director of compliance in CUNA’s Center for Professional Development (CPD). “Often they are a department of limited resources, so when they start out, they don’t know where to begin or who to turn to.”
At the same time, seasoned compliance professionals also felt gaps in their professional development, Kallestad says.
“Namely, they felt a need to expand their professional network as well as a need for industry exposure and recognition— accentuating the need for us to take action,” Kallestad says.
The program complements CUNA’s Credit Union Compliance Expert (CUCE) certification training program. To qualify for the program, mentors must have a minimum of three years’ financial industry compliance experience and hold and maintain the CUCE certification. Mentees must be in their compliance role less than three years and hold or be in the process of earning their CUCE certification.
The program is an invaluable resource for compliance professionals of all experience levels. Mentors and mentees are carefully matched based on knowledge and need. Participants commit to a six-month relationship and set goals for that timeframe.
Mentee Marti Gwin, vice president of compliance at $253 million asset Wauna Federal Credit Union in Clatskanie, Ore., set a goal of establishing a compliance management system while working with her mentor.
“My mentor has over 40 years of credit union experience and 23 years of compliance experience,” Gwin says. “She created a compliance department at her last credit union.”
Gwin says her mentor provides her with guidance and feedback as well as sample documentation.
“It’s one thing to talk about this stuff conceptually, but when you have documents that you can adapt for your organization along with feedback from someone who’s been down this road, it’s invaluable,” says Gwin, who signed a non-disclosure agreement at the start of the process. “She helps me look at the big picture.”
Mentor Tomasa Weber, compliance officer at $3.1 billion Navy Army Community Credit Union, Corpus Christi, Texas, says it’s important that her mentee understands not just the “what” of compliance but also the “why.”
“So much of compliance is about making choices every day, and that’s where the ‘why’ becomes important,” Weber says. “I think that’s how I can help as a mentor.”
Although she serves as a mentor, Weber says the program has benefitted her as well—filling one of the previously mentioned gaps Kallestad alluded to. “It’s been great for my morale,” Weber says. “It helps building a rapport with someone that goes through the same daily struggles as you do, making sure we comply with all these rules and regulations.”
Weber came to credit unions from a banking background about three years ago. She appreciates the value of collaboration. “The program is just a great fit with the credit union movement, helping out your neighbor and looking out for one another,” she says. “In my previous experience, I had to learn this on my own. I’m happy to help others out.”
CUNA Councils also offers a Mentor Match program.