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Adding value to credit union investment programs brings success to CUSO Financial Services

Since its formation in 1998, CUSO Financial Services LP (CFS) has become a rising star in the financial services industry, systematically building its reputation as a quality, full-service broker dealer and registered investment adviser that provides its services to credit unions.

The company has consistently demonstrated formidable growth each year, showing steadily increasing corporate revenues, significant profitability and, for the past two years, annual distribution of profits to its credit union limited partners.

So how does CFS continue this impressive trend year after year, despite challenging economic conditions and generally low investor confidence in the market?

The answer, according to CFS President and CEO Valorie Seyfert, is simple, but not necessarily easy to do: by promising and delivering added value to a credit unions' palette of member products and services.

This value proposition, in turn, translates into the development of stronger relationships between members and credit unions, resulting in the attraction and retention of additional long-term customers who can appreciate the benefits of one-stop financial shopping.

"By offering full-service investment and insurance programs that are well-supported by the latest technologies, operational efficiencies and trusted service-minded registered financial representatives, CFS provides enhanced member value that often leads to an improved overall relationship with the credit unions," Seyfert explained.

In addition to building stronger, more enduring customer relationships, the added value credit unions obtain through their partnerships with CFS can also be measured in more tangible ways.

Credit union partner programs generate additional revenue from members' transactions, and those credit unions fortunate enough to have invested in the CFS concept originally are now participating in net profit allocations and distributions in proportion with the number of units owned.

CFS adds further dimension and value by seamlessly integrating its investment and insurance programs into any credit union's existing product and service mix by allowing members, registered representatives and credit union employees easy access to referrals, market information, and an assortment of financial planning tools and resources.

And, since CFS programs and products are nonproprietary, they can be co-branded under the credit union's name, providing a sense of commitment and core product positioning.

With its competitive programs and comprehensive support capabilities, CFS has essentially pioneered a new business model for credit unions that helps them deliver a wider array of financial products and services across multiple delivery channels to their members.

"CFS's superior technological capabilities provides members with easy and immediate access to their financial information, and handles their transactions securely with efficiency and accuracy," Seyfert said. "While highly beneficial to members, these efficiencies also help the credit union lower its overhead costs by streamlining operations and eliminating redundant tasks and duplication of time and efforts by staff members."

The broker-dealer and investment adviser is currently providing programs to more than 80 credit unions -- 25 of which are ranked among the top in the nation -- and also assists credit unions with core product positioning. CFS's industry-specific knowledge, extensive experience and marketing expertise helps credit unions identify and make members more aware of their investment program and improve the overall credibility of the program in the eyes of their members.

CFS helps its credit union customers capitalize on their core competencies by focusing on business activities that are central to their existence and in the credit unions' best interest for long-term success and growth.

CFS is a "Best Practices" leader that shares information and ideas among its partners and users about successes they've experienced and the ways in which they were achieved.

CFS principals have a long and deeply entrenched connection to the credit union industry and share their member-first philosophy and commitment to the organization's overall mission and vision.

With rarely seen agility and flexibility with respect to service and operations, CFS has continually demonstrated a proclivity to collaborate and share information with a decided orientation to member value, which explains one of the big reasons behind CFS's swift and dramatic success.

Barrett is head writer for Beck Ellman Heald.

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