NJCUL Hit a Home Run with the 2018 Director Conference

Having not held a director conference in New Jersey for over a decade, it was time for a change! Working with a subset of the NJ DNA Group (NJ Director and Volunteer Alliance Group) as a steering committee made all the difference. A team of directors worked closely and collaboratively with the League to be sure that the content of this past weekend’s Director Conference was developed by New Jersey credit union directors for New Jersey credit union directors. The meeting flow exceeded expectations and had a nice mix of left and right brain topics.


Carolyn Kvalo of The Curchin Group held a fast-paced Financial Literacy Education Session, covering a great amount of material in a short amount of time, including key ratios and business risks that challenge credit unions.

Scott Butterfield from Your Credit Union Partner led a very engaging session: Strategic Thinking for Effective Boards. He talked about the difference in philosophy at credit unions. Today, more CUs focus on their asset size (growth) rather than helping the members. Butterfield spent time talking about strategic versus tactical. “We exist to make our members lives better,” he reminded the group. Remember the NCUA is an insurance agency and the more you know about numbers, the stronger you will be; however, your focus needs to be on strategies and tactics to reach your vision. Butterfield referenced a Ted Talk by Simon Sinek, “Start with Why”...what is the strategy (what are we going to do). The tactic is how; the vision is why. Butterfield says you need to ask yourself how your credit union is different from a bank. Boards should always bring the CEO back to the vision and mission, he said. Ask the CEO how the tactic supports the vision.

Attorney Drew Edwards first thanked the board members for their unpaid, volunteer service to their credit unions. He shared the legal sources of director duties: common law fiduciary duties, business judgement rule, and NCUA Regulatory Standards (which track both of these). Edwards stressed the importance of making sure to document decisions, etc., in the board minutes. While Edwards said the board shouldn’t rubber stamp, sleep, or be totally hands-off, it is not a good idea to totally swing the other way and micromanage. Edwards reviewed the NCUA Standards and shared that the management of the CU is a board responsibility. They can hire management to do this (and often do) or rely on outside professionals: lawyers, auditors, etc. He stated that outside resources report to the credit union, not the CEO. Edwards finished with the importance of indemnification and requirements.


The flow of the conference continued with Glory LeDu from CU Solutions Group discussing the boards role in the policy review process. She shared best practices for policy review, and when asked if all policies need to be reviewed every year, replied, “YES! You need to review all your policies annually.” LeDu reviewed the difference between a policy and a procedure. Someone asked if the board should look at procedures to make sure they follow the policy and the answer is no. “That is what an examination is for,” she pointed out. She also stated that credit unions should separate policies from procedures. LeDu talked about CU Policy Pro and League InfoSight, free tools for NJCUL members that contain 300 model policies. She also talked about ComplySight which is another very valuable tool (with a cost associated with it), which includes a means to collect and document complaints in one central location. LeDu suggested reviewing five policies at every board meeting. If one month the policy is ACH and you really don’t know much about it, ask management to provide a 10-minute overview prior, she said. Also, you can ask management to provide the model policy or regulation to compare. When asked to approve policy changes, LeDu suggested asking for a redlined version so you know what was changed or ask for a summary to the “why.”

After a lovely lunch, the group reconvened to hear Ryo Tashiro from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia provide an economic outlook. Tashiro said our economy is showing consistent growth. He shared how the Fed surveys their markets on how business is doing—they ask 45 questions—and Tashiro shared results of some answers. He also covered the GDP, employment, and housing...pointing out that out-of-state migration is very high in NJ.

Our final speaker was Chris Dawe who is a nationally recognized CEO hired to lead credit union turnarounds. Tackling the topic of “Navigating a Credit Union Through Challenging Times,” Dawe stated that having the right people in the right place is critical to the success of a troubled credit union. Dawe shared some real-life examples of issues of fraud due to a lack of internal controls. She reviewed the stakeholders and discussed techniques/best practices for communication to the members, credit union, media, and staff.

More photos from this year's Director's Conference can be found by going to NJCUL's Facebook page.