Each year following the completion of a third party financial audit, the CU*NorthWest board of directors evaluates the net bottom line and makes decisions on how to best extend returns to owner/customers. CU*NorthWest had a record year in fiscal 2017 (ending 9/30/2017) and not only paid the budgeted return, but was able to add an additional “bonus return.” Additionally, stock price rose by 6% and as announced in 2017, all customers had multiple fees reduced on their September invoices.
The CU*NorthWest board is made up of CEOs from credit unions who own stock in CU*NorthWest. The CUSO is structured as a pure cooperative and mirrors the governance model of credit unions in nearly every way. “I am so proud of our board and the cooperative spirit they displayed in this process,” said Greg Smith, CU*NorthWest CEO. “They not only took care of stockholders but also recognized the non-stockholder customers, as we have always believed that paying a monthly invoice is also a function of investment in our firm.”
Board Chair Chuck Papenfus added: “The board and management of CU*NorthWest have a driving philosophy when managing the cooperative’s income. We seek to balance returns in four areas: maintaining a healthy balance sheet (retained earnings), stock value growth (book value), direct cash returns to owners (dividends), and price reductions or extra services for all customers regardless of ownership.” Mr. Papenfus is the CEO of Inland Valley FCU in Fontana, CA, and past chairman of the California Credit Union League.
Jennifer Oliver (CEO of South Bay Credit Union in Redondo Beach, CA and also a board member at CU*NorthWest) added: “Our goal in the board room is to generate value for both our customers and owners. It is simply what a cooperative does. Just as we work to serve our members with everything focused on them, so CU*NorthWest is focused on driving value and returns to its members (credit union clients of CU*NorthWest). CUNW has been able to generate returns while still lowering prices for the last three years and providing product enhancements and new capabilities of the core software suite, with no additional cost for modules.”
“This is exactly why credit unions should do business with a cooperative,” said Steve Kelly, CEO of Metrum Community CU. “The power of the cooperative business model quickly became obvious – as credit unions, we all run cooperatives and see every day the difference it can make in our members’ lives. CU*NorthWest has certainly made a difference for our organization and our members.”
CU*BASE® GOLD is the only core processing solution available from a cooperative CUSO. CU*NorthWest and founding partner CU*Answers—both 100% credit union-owned cooperatives—are nearly identical in structure and approach. They continue to work together as a part of the larger cuasterisk.com national network of credit unions and CUSOs.