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2013 Convention & Expo Kicks Off

On October 22, approximately 250 credit union professionals arrived at Chateau on the Lake in Branson for the Missouri Credit Union Association’s (MCUA) 2013 Convention and Expo. Attendees came from Missouri, Oklahoma and Mississippi. 

Today, the annual event opened with registration at 11 a.m. Participants received their C&E packets, which included the agenda to navigate the three-day convention. CU professionals were invited to mingle with their peers prior to the start of the program.

The sessions officially kicked off at 1 p.m. with a several words of welcome from MCUA President/CEO Don Cohenour. He then introduced the first speaker of the event, Brent Dixon. Dixon spoke on a topic relevant to all credit union staff—understanding consumer behavior. He outlined a process, called design thinking, that can help credit unions gain important insight into what their members actually want and need from their financial institutions. Thinking like a designer asks that you learn, brainstorm (doodle) and create a solution (make).

To learn more about consumers, he suggests that credit unions take a closer look at consumer behavior, not just what they say. When receiving surveys back from members (or consumers), take note of the extremes. Dixon suggests that you can pull insights from these extremes, as most will fall somewhere in between.

“Observe actual behavior,” says Dixon. "Ask open-ended questions. You really need to be intuitive and read between the lines in these instances. 

Following a short break, Cohenour led an interactive ARS session. He asked for credit union leaders to answer questions regarding relevant topics. CU leaders shared their opinions via their smartphones.

The sixth question asked, "Most consumers:

a.) Totally understand what a credit union is and have a positive view of them (0%)
b.) Understand credit unions somewhat and need more education (23%)
c.) Don't understand credit unions and need to understand basics (73%)
d.) Know credit unions yet prefer banks (5%)"

Mike O'Brien, senior vice president and Chief Marketing Officer for St. Louis Community Credit Union, suggested credit union staffers should be strong CU advocates and share the credit union message with friends, family members and others. Michelle Rosner, vice president of Sales and Marketing for 1st Financial Federal Credit Union, her peers to attend chapter meetings and invite members to these meetings. 

"If consumers don't understand what credit unions do, what have we got?" says Cohenour. "We will continue to improve consumer awareness." 

After these general sessions, a vendor reception was held in the Exhibit Hall. This opportunity allowed for attendees to talk with vendors that offer solutions vital to the operation of credit unions—big and small.

Day one capped off with dinner. Just before the meal was served, Cohenour and Kirk Mondy, chairman of the Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation (MCUCF), presented a brief program dedicated to the memory of Leon Kusnetzky, champion of the credit union movement in Missouri (and in Kansas).

“As many of you know, we lost a true credit union advocate and friend earlier this year–Leon Kusnetzky,” says Cohenour. "Tonight, we honor his memory and celebrate his life of accomplishments."

In honor of Leon’s legacy, MCUCF (in partnership with MCUA and Missouri Corporate Credit Union) has created the Leon Kusnetzky Fund. Attendees were encouraged to consider donating to the fund.

“Leon was perhaps the biggest advocate for small credit unions in Missouri,” says Mondy. "Honoring his love of small credit unions, the Missouri Credit Union Charitable Foundation has created the Leon Kusnetzky Fund. This fund will directly support Project Secure, an initiative that supplies smaller credit unions with experienced, temporary staff to fill in for employees during training programs 

Accepting the Honor Roll Award on Leon’s behalf was Dan Sailler from Leon’s firm, Kusnetsky, Schwartz, Rosenfeld, Sailler & Lilla, PC. Sailler read a letter from Kusnetzky's wife, Carol, who could not attend. 

Mike Bliss, comedian and magician, provided entertainment for the night. The first day of the Convention and Expo was filled with collaboration, fond memories and the celebration of credit unions in Missouri.