The President's Perspective
by Jeff Olson

Greetings and Happy Monday.

I hope that you all are staying warm and safe. It’s been a brutal few weeks with “Old Man Winter” making his presence felt all across our region. I am writing to you from sunny, but not-so-warm Las Vegas, where the expected high today is only 51 degrees. Still, that is nearly 60 degrees warmer than most of the Dakotas today. Plus, no snow to be seen.  

I’m here in Vegas for the 3rd annual MonDak Roundtable meetings. I love the timing this year – who doesn’t want to get out of the Dakota cold for a few days? I’m excited to participate and share this high-level learning opportunity with nearly 90 CEOs and volunteer board members and preferred vendor partners who are here for the two-day conference.

The CUAD Board of Directors will also be meeting prior to the conference. This year’s MonDak will offer industry specific pre-conference sessions that are CEO and volunteer specific. The general session on Wednesday will be led by industry leaders, and attendees will be challenged to think differently on techniques that can help their credit unions grow and remain relevant with their members. If you have not attended, this event should be on your radar in 2020 for conferences to consider attending.

More Affordable Health Benefits Options Coming Soon to South Dakota Credit Unions.

Credit Unions in South Dakota are one step closer to more affordable employee healthcare options as SB 37 sailed through the South Dakota House last Thursday with a vote of 69 Yea, 0 Nay, and one excused. SB 37 is a bill that amends and modernizes the state’s current statutes relating to Association Health Plans, providing a waiver process to open the CUAD Health Benefits Trust to our South Dakota affiliated Credit Unions and their employees. We anticipate that Governor Noem will sign the bill into law sometime this week, which will be the final seal of approval on the legislation that CUAD has been supporting and advocating for over the past two South Dakota legislative sessions. Below are some of the scenes from the important vote last week!

To help all of our member credit unions learn more about MEWAs (Multiple Employers Welfare Arrangements) and how the CUAD Health Benefits Trust may be a more affordable employee benefit option, CUAD is planning on facilitating a breakout session during the Annual Summit Meetings in Fargo, April 29 – May 1. Our goal is to offer this option to South Dakota credit unions in 2020. Also, we will be contacting our South Dakota member credit unions over the next few weeks, seeking authorization to gather information on your current plans and to get a claims history. This is a highly confidential process where our Broker and TPA (third party administrator) has their actuaries review a credit union’s health benefits plan and analyze claims from the three previous years. This helps to determine what plans we can implement and offer to prospective members. Participating in this information gathering process does not mean you are committing to participate in the CUAD HBT; it simply allows the Board of Trustees to do their proper due diligence of potential members. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

"All-In" Webinar for launching of "Open Your Eyes" draws large Dakota turnout! 

The “Open Your Eyes” initiative is set to launch in the Dakotas very soon, and we can hardly wait! I want to thank everyone that was able to tune in to our “All-In” Dakota “Open Your Eyes” consumer consideration rollout on Friday afternoon. We are still soliciting support from members, and hope to achieve 100% participation! But, during the webinar, we learned that we can expect to see the campaign content in our marketplace very soon.

You can view (or re-view) the Dakota “Open Your Eyes” webinar with Susan Toalson, CUNA VP of Awareness by emailing Lori Welder, CUAD’s Director of Communication. She will provide the link, which is restricted to CUAD members only.

Credit unions need to work together to not only raise awareness, but to convince consumers to consider using credit unions to meet their financial needs. This Initiative is an all-out effort by our movement to get more consumers to consider credit unions their best financial services provider. I want to thank our members that have committed their support so far. We have just over half our affiliated members contributing and we have just under $800,000 pledged so far. 

Stage one has already occurred, as the website was launched one week ago. This is the consumer-friendly website where people can learn about credit unions – and find one that they can join. There's a lot to check out, especially how campaign contributors have a special designation in the search function of the website

Some of you may know that I have a background in marketing and advertising. I was an owner/partner in a marketing firm that served a variety of clientele in various capacities, including corporate image branding, strategic market planning, creative writing and production, as well as public and media relations. I have sat in board rooms and across the table from business owners and entrepreneurs and presented ideas that would, in theory, produce positive results and boost their bottom lines. If I were that advertising/marketing executive today, sitting in your board room across from your leadership team or board volunteers, armed with all of this data, research, and fantastic creative content, I would say with certainty that you and your credit union need to be “All In” on this.

Why is this consumer consideration effort different? The simple answer is research and data, and a targeted regional approach. The campaign also aims to grow membership, particularly among millennials and women between the ages of 33 and 50 who have children. That’s because research shows this group makes the financial decisions in the family.  

Imagine a massive branding effort that portrays a consistent message that will be seen and heard by consumers wherever they in the country or in our regional marketplace. This truly is our “Got Milk” moment! That’s why CUAD and many of our members are “All-in!”

Comedian “Mr. Showtime” to highlight ND Legislative Late Night in Bismarck.

The North Dakota Legislative Hike-the-Hill, Credit Union Roundtable and Legislative Social is coming soon, on Tuesday, February 19. It’s not too late to make plans to join us! Just one week from tomorrow, we are anticipating more than 200 legislators, constitutional officers, legislative staff, and many credit union professionals and volunteer advocates from across the state will come together for our bi-annual legislative event at the Radisson Hotel downtown Bismarck. Shown right is "Mr. Showtime" - our entertainment during the "Late Night" Social. 

One of our on-going pillars is to enhance, strengthen and promote a healthy operating environment for all credit unions. Building positive relationships with lawmakers is how we can work together to accomplish that goal and that’s where you can help.

Below is a brief breakdown of the day, and you can register and review the entire agenda here.

12:30 – 1:00 p.m. HTH ND Capitol. Gather in the lobby by the south entrance. Group will meet with LT. Governor Sanford, Senate Majority Leader Wardner, and Senate Minority Leader Joan Heckamen.

3:00 p.m. Roundtable Dialogue. DFI Update with Commissioner Lise Kruse; State of the CU System with Lucy Ito of NASCUS; Open Forum, and Association Update with Jeff Olson.

6:30 to 8:30 p.m. ND Legislative “Late Night” Social. Entertainment by Comedian Dave Scott.         

2019 Summit Launch Coming Soon!

Ever since we wrapped up the Scottsdale Summit last year, the CUAD team has been working on our 2019 Summit meetings, scheduled for April 29-May 1 in Fargo, North Dakota at the Delta Marriot Convention Center. Watch for the official launch and exciting details coming soon!   

In the meantime, be sure to check out our educational opportunities that are currently open and available to our members. Specifically, I want to mention the Directors College. We are excited to offer this high-level workshop, delivering the training that our members asked for in their feedback to the association. Designed for credit union directors and senior staff members, Directors College will focus on director expectations, including BSA requirements, cyber security concerns, succession planning, interest rate risk, and other critical issues impacting credit unions today. 

Have a great week, and stay warm and safe!



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