Thursday, October 18, 2018

International Credit Union Day: Inspired by a People-First Purpose

By: Robert N. Trunzo

Today marks the 70th anniversary of International Credit Union Day (ICU Day), a day to celebrate the history and achievements of the credit union movement.  On this milestone, I'm reflecting on a few things that make the credit union industry unique, and why I’m proud to be part of it.

Giving Back is What We Do
Credit unions provide financial services for the purpose of improving lives, and a core principle of the movement includes supporting the sustainable development of communities.

CUNA Mutual Group was founded on this “people helping people” philosophy, and we take that to heart by giving back in many ways. This year alone, our employees put in more than 13,000 volunteer hours to date and we recently contributed an additional $20 million to our foundation to create a sustainable funding source for many years to come.

I’m extremely proud of our commitment to making a real difference in our communities.

The Power of Cooperation
The spirit of cooperation is another core principle of the credit union movement, and I witnessed this principle in action earlier this year when the Iowa legislature passed the largest tax overhaul in state history. If adopted, the bill would have set a dangerous precedent for the credit union tax status across the nation.

Many of our employees took part in grassroots advocacy efforts to show their support for credit unions. They generated hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls to local representatives, urging lawmakers to protect the credit union tax status. On top of that, many drove several hours to attend events at the state capitol in Des Moines to tell legislators personal stories about their credit union experiences.

Collectively, our voices were critical in having the final Iowa tax bill pass without a tax increase on credit unions.

Positioned for a Bright Future
The credit union philosophy centers on the simple idea of people over profit. As the ICU Day theme points out, that's why credit unions always offer a platinum lining.

At CUNA Mutual Group, we believe credit unions are an outstanding choice for consumers, and that’s why we were one of the first to contribute to Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) nationwide campaign, pledging $1 million to help raise consumer awareness about credit unions and the positive outcomes they help members achieve every day.

By supporting CUNA and the Leagues on this important initiative, CUNA Mutual Group believes we can collectively increase consumer consideration of credit unions and position them for a bright future.

On ICU day and every day, I’m proud to be part of an industry that puts people first and cares about the well-being of its customers.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

CUNA Mutual Group Honored with Diversity Award

CUNA Mutual Group was honored today as a recipient of the Distinguished Performer Award for Diversity as part of the Deloitte Wisconsin 75 program. This annual list recognizes the state's largest private companies and showcases their positive impact on Wisconsin's economy and communities they serve. This is the third consecutive year CUNA Mutual Group was honored as one of the six Distinguished Performers. We were recognized for our community work in 2016 and innovation in 2017.

“CUNA Mutual Group is focused on creating an inclusive, equitable, and diverse company that reflects the customers we serve, the partners we work with and the communities we reside in,” said Robert N. Trunzo, president and CEO. “For us, it’s about recognizing and understanding differences, creating a welcoming and supportive environment for everyone and ensuring we all benefit together because of our differences. We are truly humbled and honored with this recognition from Deloitte Wisconsin 75.”

As part of an enterprise-wide diversity, equity and inclusion strategy, CUNA Mutual Group has developed a long-term focus and plan that includes a robust employee training curriculum, investments in resources and leadership development all covering areas such as race, gender, inclusion, discrimination and implicit bias.

For more information, click here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

One Foot in the Future

By: Robert N. Trunzo

One of my professors used to say, “You’ve got to have one foot in the present, and one foot in the future.” As a CEO, this statement couldn’t be more relevant in today’s competitive landscape, where consumers are demanding more convenient products and services—and they have more choices than ever.

And let me make it clear: when consumers are judging how financial services institutions serve them, they’re not comparing us with the bank down the street, or with other insurance companies. They’re comparing us with the biggest, brightest, best brands out there.

So, we know we must focus on providing solutions that address our customers’ needs.

At CUNA Mutual Group, we’re going through our own transformation to remain relevant to the credit unions and consumers we serve today. We’re looking to the future and embracing innovation and disruption. Here are a few things we’ve learned along our journey:

Stay flexible.
We continuously challenge ourselves to create, innovate and invest in new ideas to help credit unions grow and help people achieve financial security. By partnering with credit unions across the country to co-develop products, we’re helping them solve their biggest challenges from their perspective, not ours.
 We recognize the need to stay flexible, while testing and learning along the way. Making adjustments throughout the process based on feedback we collect ensures we’re developing products that our customers really want.

Respect failure and embrace it.
Building agile methodology into the DNA of CUNA Mutual Group is no easy feat for our 83 year-old insurance company. But we’ve seen that this iterative way of working has trained us to test and react quickly and ultimately develop products and services faster.
While we’re asking employees to move faster, we’re also recognizing that it’s okay to fail. When something doesn’t go right in a project or during a sprint, we revisit the problem, tackle it again, and walk away learning something.

Keep an eye on the horizon.
Looking to the future can be tough, especially when there is so much to manage in the day-to-day. But it’s necessary to keep up in our fast-paced world. For instance, your biggest competitor could be one that doesn’t even exist yet.

For us, we saw an emerging opportunity in data and analytics a few years ago. Instead of ignoring the trend, we embraced it and thought about ways we could deliver these capabilities for credit unions. We made a significant investment in our data and analytics business, AdvantEdge Analytics. We now have 150 employees dedicated to helping credit unions deliver a better member experience through actionable data insights.

Throughout our journey at CUNA Mutual Group, I’ve learned that success is not a straight line. In business, it is critical to stay flexible and resilient, and it is vital that you keep learning – from your failures as well as your wins. Navigating this ever-changing world and meeting our customers’ needs requires walking with one foot in the present and one foot in the future.

Hear more about this in a recent podcast discussion I had with John Janclaes, CEO, Partners Federal Credit Union.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Disaster Preparedness Month: Building a Plan for Your Credit Union

Disasters can and often do occur with little to no warning. Weather-related acts of nature can give hours or days of notice, but this is not enough time to create a disaster plan for your credit union. Man-made threats, infrastructure issues and other crises can and do occur instantly, forcing a race against the clock to protect your employees, members and credit union overall.

To protect against all types of potential disasters, every credit union needs its own preparedness plan. Plans will vary depending on location, size and needs, but creating them can follow the same process. Once your credit union’s disaster preparedness plan is complete, everyone will be better prepared for and protected against potential disasters.

Evaluate restoration elements and issues.
The first step to creating a disaster preparedness plan for your credit union is to take a step back and go over its critical functions and processes. Really investigate essential daily operations that always need to be available to members. These are the processes that must remain active in the event of an emergency. Next, you will need to determine any processes for restoring them if they get interrupted. That way, you know what is essential, and how to get them working properly again after an emergency.

Create a response team.
After identifying the essential functions of your credit union, you will need to put together a disaster preparedness team. This team will usually include high-level decision makers, management and possibly other department representatives. It is important to make sure every employee has a line into this team, so they are updated on any changing plans.

Develop a communications plan -- for more than one type of disaster.
Next is communication. In addition to informing all employees of the plan overall, every credit union also needs a crisis communication plan. This will include how you will communicate with employees, members and management after a disaster strikes. Be sure to include contingencies for losing phone service, internet access and electricity.

Finally, be sure to include all types of disasters in your plan. Most credit union leaders will think of natural disasters, infrastructure emergencies and robberies. What if a computer virus were introduced into your system? Or a hacking attack targeted your members? Be sure to look outside the box to make sure you are prepared for any possible issue.

Ideally, your credit union will never experience a disaster, and your plan will go unused. But, the work of building it could alert you to any issues before something happens. While no credit union can be 100% ready for every disaster, those with extensive plans are the best prepared. Plans will need to be updated on a regular basis as your credit union changes and new threats are identified.

For more detailed tips and discussion on disaster preparedness for your credit union, see our Credit Union Protection webinar on this topic. It's available on-demand at no charge for our customers.

For more information on disaster recovery, CLICK HERE.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

We're joining forces with PCSU to explore shared analytics for the credit union industry

We are coming together with PSCU – the nation’s premier payments CUSO – to explore opportunities surrounding the expanded use of data and analytics, with a goal of benefiting credit unions and the industry as a whole. 

“PSCU has been an industry leader in data and analytics for several years, and we are now placing more of a focus on these offerings than ever before,” said Tom Gandre, Chief Operating Officer for PSCU. “We are excited to come together with another industry leader to drive home the value of analytics for the credit union industry.”

PSCU’s Member Insight is a suite of advanced analytics tools that helps credit unions uncover the information they need to understand the performance, profitability, growth opportunities and risk mitigation in their credit, debit, bill pay and ATM portfolios. Credit union users currently derive insights and actions based on thousands of database searches conducted annually. CUNA Mutual AdvantEdge Analytics provides comprehensive technology and data analytics services for credit unions, helping credit unions effectively harness the power of data in new and insightful ways.
“This is an exciting step for industry collaboration between PSCU and CUNA Mutual Group as we explore new ways to bring a better digital experience for credit unions and their members,” said Shazia Manus, chief strategy and business development officer for AdvantEdge Analytics. “Together, we will continue to not only address the evolving data analytics needs of credit unions, but more importantly, we will continue to build the digital ecosystem to improve the member financial experience overall.”
The new partnership will explore innovation and strategic development ideas by leveraging collective capabilities in digital and analytics solutions, including additional infrastructure for the AdvantEdge Analytics™ Data Platform, as well as connections with PSCU’s Advisors Plus and contact centers. The companies will also explore areas to further enable actionable growth strategies through data analytics that will improve member intelligence and accelerated analytics adoption to help strengthen credit unions for the future.

Click here for more information.

Four Ways to Simplify Life Insurance for Your Members

By Laura Williams

Companies like Amazon have made on-demand services the norm, creating frictionless purchasing that puts thousands of products just a click away. With an attention span of just eight seconds, the average consumer seeks swift and simple solutions at every turn (1).

For example, 81 percent of consumers want an increased response time (2), while 59 percent want personalized offers and service (3) And 71 percent of consumers say they want simplified underwriting—notably because it’s fast and easy (4).

It’s clear that there’s now a huge premium placed on simplicity and speed. And accordingly, if a purchase process is too clunky or confusing, even the most loyal members will leave your credit union for other financial institutions.

Credit unions need to simplify their purchase processes so that buying life insurance is like shopping on sites like Amazon—fast and easy. Credit unions can bolster their life insurance program by:

Productizing life insurance. 
Amazon succeeds by making it easy to drop a product into a virtual cart and immediately check out. A life insurance policy should also exist as a true product that consumers put into their ‘cart’ and purchase at ‘checkout’.

Implementing customer service chat functions. 
Making representatives available via instant messaging lets members get immediate answers to their questions—a simpler and more convenient alternative to the phone.

Optimizing websites. 
A mere two-second delay in webpage load time leads to a 20 percent abandonment rate (3). To retain consumers, ensure your website is always snappy and smooth.

Offering and promoting simplified underwriting. 
Simplified underwriting is a more efficient and convenient process for members. It significantly reduces the time from application to issue and synthesizes the most relative and predictive data to eliminate the need for a medical exam. Promote these benefits in communications, and provide simple, transparent explanations of risk classification and product pricing.

Making life insurance simple will help you satisfy members and reap the benefits of member loyalty for years to come.  For more of the latest trends and tips, download our free infographic and e-book.
1. Cision, “Brands, Here’s How to Captivate Consumers in the Age of Distraction,” May 2017. 
2. IBM Institute for Business Value Report, 2016.
3. Herbert Liu, “7 Stats Ecommerce Retailers Can’t Ignore in 2017,” Shopify, Dec. 21, 2016.

4. Life Happens & LIMRA study, “2017 Insurance Barometer.”

Three Steps to Stay Ahead in the Competitive Life Insurance Game

Our world is changing fast. Consumers have new purchasing expectations, and they demand simplicity at every turn. In fact, 64 percent say they’ll pay more for simpler experiences. 1

To stay ahead, it’s crucial to understand the reasons behind consumer behavior, and where it might be headed next. Doing so will help you forge deeper connections with members—today and in the future.

Here are some steps to help you grasp the changing life insurance landscape, and to simplify your products and services in response.

Identify with today’s consumers. 
Credit union demographics are shifting, with multicultural membership growing 61 percent in the last five years.2 And with more seniors heading online—45 percent visit provider websites—plus 79 percent of millennials wanting life insurance that’s easy to understand, there are many unique demands to address. 3 Make sure to work the values of these hardworking consumers into your communications to truly resonate.

Realize the wide range of reasons for owning.
Life insurance is a versatile financial tool, but when one out of three people admit they don’t have enough, it’s crucial to help them understand all that it can do. For 54 percent of consumers, life insurance helps pay off their mortgage, while 52 percent use it to supplement retirement income. 3 Making your program simple will help more members understand its role, and get the protection they need.

Understand the need for speed. 
Amazon has made speed and ease the norm, which consumers now expect in every transaction—including buying life insurance. If your purchase processes aren’t fast or simple enough, consumers will head elsewhere for an easier experience. Offering budget tools and an ultra-responsive website will help you put life insurance just a few clicks away.

Want more tips on how to stay ahead in the competitive life insurance game and forge better connections with your members? Download our free infographic and e-book now. 

1 Siegel & Gale, “Global Brand Simplicity Index 2017,” January 2017. 
2 CUNA Mutual Group and TruStage®, “What Matters Now: Insights From Multicultural Consumers” research report, 2018. 
3 Life Happens & LIMRA study, “2017 Insurance Barometer.”

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Our Deferred Income Annuity Recognized on Barron’s Top 50 List

Barron’s, the world's premier investing publication since 1921, has included us on its list of The 50 Best Annuities.” 

We're honored to have appeared on the publication’s Deferred Income Annuity pension and longevity lists for our MEMBERS® Future Income Annuity product, which turns a lump sum of money into a lifelong income stream.

According to Barron’s, the 50 best annuities “screened for the most competitive contracts across different types of annuities using assumptions such as age and size of investments.” Barron’s further narrowed its list to include only insurers with an A.M. Best financial strength rating of A- or above.   

“We are proud to be ranked among the best annuities in the country,” said David Hanzlik, vice president of annuity solutions, CUNA Mutual Group. “In an industry with constant change and market uncertainty, we are focused more than ever on creating investment products and services that are easy to understand. We’ve served financial institutions and advisors with innovative products for more than 80 years, and we play a critical role in helping people make choices that support their financial goals.” 

“We are proud to be ranked among the best annuities in the country,” said David Hanzlik, vice president of annuity solutions, CUNA Mutual Group. “In an industry with constant change and market uncertainty, we are focused more than ever on creating investment products and services that are easy to understand. We’ve served financial institutions and advisors with innovative products for more than 80 years, and we play a critical role in helping people make choices that support their financial goals.” 

MEMBERS® Future Income Annuity is sold through licensed representatives. To learn more about the annuity’s benefits, costs, and other important information, call 1.888.888.3940, or visit

MFA-2228243.1-0818-0920   ©2018 CUNA Mutual Group

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

TruStage Exceeds $6 Billion in Issued Coverage Less Than 2 Years After Introduction

We have good news from our consumer insurance brand TruStage today. Its simplified-issue life insurance products have exceeded $6 billion in issued coverage. 

TruStage offers term and whole life insurance policies. It was among the first to offer a suite of simplified-issue term and whole life insurance products to customers via a completely digital, automated application process that yields a decision within minutes by answering just a few questions. This avenue accounts for more than $1 billion in coverage issued to date.  And, since its launch in November 2016, TruStage simplified-issue life insurance has expanded its customer base across 49 states. 

TruStage designed these products by incorporating consumer feedback and retail best practices to offer younger, middle-market and diverse consumers a wide range of protection options to cover home mortgages, children’s education, income replacement and final expenses. Coverage options are calculated and presented based on the buyer’s budget rather than a set coverage amount.

TruStage structures its products around the concept that protecting loved ones rests at the core of purchasing life insurance. The online application asks for the name of the beneficiary at the beginning of the process, displaying that name through each step to remind applicants whom they are protecting. 

Protecting more than 20 million members, TruStage insurance products and programs include auto, home, life, accidental death and dismemberment and health insurance. They’re available to consumers across the U.S. helping build financial security for their families. 

For more information, see the full press release, or go to

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

August 2018: Credit Union Trends Report

Our Credit Union Trends Report for August 2018 is now available online. The report covers data from June 2018 and includes details on credit union memberships, loans, savings and more.  
Highlights include the following:  

  • During June, credit unions picked up 460,000 new memberships, loan balances grew at a 10.1 percent annualized pace, vacation spending and car purchases reduced the savings rate, firms hired 248,000 workers, nominal consumer spending increased 0.4 percent and long-term interest rates fell 7 basis points. Second quarter economic growth came in at 4.1 percent, better than the 2.2 percent in Q1. 
  • At the end of June, CUNA’s monthly estimates reported 5,714 CUs in operation, down 8 CUs from one month earlier. Year-over-year the number of credit unions declined by 228, more than the 184 lost in the 12 months ending in June 2017. 
  • Total credit union assets rose 1.6 percent in June due to the month ending on a payroll Friday. Credit unions picked up an additional $3.4 billion in wholesale borrowings. Assets rose 6.5 percent over the past year due to a 5.6 percent increase in deposits, a 5.8 percent increase in capital and a 29 percent increase in borrowings. 
  • The nation’s credit unions increased their loan portfolios 1.3 percent in June, slightly more than the 1.1 percent pace reported in June 2017 and 10.2 percent during the last 12 months. June is historically the month reporting the fastest loan growth as the summer car buying season begins in earnest. 
  • Credit union memberships rose a robust 0.4 percent in June, below the 0.48 percent gain reported in June 2017. Memberships are up 4.1 percent over the past year due to rapid job creation and strong demand for new and used auto loans. 
  • Credit union loan delinquency rates fell to 0.64 percent in June, down from 0.74 percent one year earlier due to a stronger economy and double-digit loan growth. As the labor market approaches full employment, the delinquency rate will decline even further. 

    For more information, view the full report here.