CUNA Strategic Services: Listening Leads to Bottom-Line Results

Few business organizations today specifically designate “listening” as their first priority. Yet that’s the starting point for CUNA Strategic Services (CSS), according to Wes Millar, senior vice president.

“We begin by listening to credit unions,” he emphasizes. “We want to understand the business challenges they’re facing. Then we research all possible solutions—interacting with many product manufacturers and service providers to determine the types of programs best suited to assist our nation’s credit unions.”

Because CSS listens, it’s aware that credit unions want peace of mind, bottom-line results, quality products and services, and enhanced member relationships through vendors and third-party providers. It’s a tall order, but CSS attempts to meet all those desires, and more.

“Frankly, not all providers make the cut,” adds Millar. In 2012, more than 200 potential providers were considered as new partners, and only two made the cut. CSS measures potential providers on quality, financial soundness, integrity, and cultural fit with credit unions.

Remember, meeting the needs of credit unions is the top priority. And that means all U.S. credit unions—because all are eligible to reap the rewards of working with CSS alliance providers. Benefits include:

  • Peace of mind: Before alliance partners are selected, they go through a rigorous process of analysis. Each provider must offer a unique benefit to credit unions. This due diligence ensures that only the most beneficial vendors are selected. In addition, credit unions can rest easy knowing that CSS providers meet regulatory standards, and that security concerns are evaluated as part of the process. “Our due diligence process is thorough, but all credit unions should perform due diligence on their third-party providers,” urges Millar, “to ensure the relationships meet their particular business needs.”
  • Bottom-line results: Because of the volume of business CSS brings to providers, credit unions saved approximately $35 million through alliance relationships in 2012. Credit unions gain products and services at competitive prices they couldn’t get without the relationships between CSS and its alliances. In addition, CSS alliance providers help participating credit unions achieve operational efficiencies and generate additional revenue. Contract savings and new strategies for non-interest income benefit both sides of the balance sheet.
  • Quality products and services: Again, due diligence ensures that all CSS providers offer top-level products and services. CSS staff work closely with all providers to educate them on credit unions’ unique needs. The true aim: to secure excellent products and services at the best value.
  • Enhanced member relationships: To survive, credit unions must gain new members and retain existing ones. CSS alliance providers understand this, and design their product offerings around the unique needs of credit union members. Ultimately, the relationships only succeed if the members are satisfied with the service.

Finally, because CSS is owned by CUNA and the state leagues, it returns its earnings to the credit union system to support advocacy efforts. This amounted to $3.2 million in 2012, alone.

Growing relationships through listening is what it’s all about, says Millar. “We’ve established an accomplished team of staff and board members to oversee our guiding purpose—relationships to benefit America’s credit unions and their members.”

For more information about the benefits of CUNA Strategic Services and a list of its alliance providers, visit


Strategic Link is the NWCUA’s wholly-owned service corporation, using the power of aggregation to provide the Association’s member credit unions with exclusive high-quality, competitively-priced products and discounted services. Contact Director of Strategic Partnerships Craig Reed today to find out how Strategic Link can help your credit union save money while meeting its goals in 2013 and beyond: 206.340.4789,

Posted in CUNA.