ONTARIO, Calif.-The reorganization at the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues was prompted by a search for relevancy in a new financial services landscape, according to Diana Dykstra.

"Credit unions are not the same as they were in 2008, from the regulatory picture to the risks they face," said Dykstra, CEO of the leagues. "The leagues had not done a whole lot differently than we had always done. We wanted to restructure our divisions and then find the talent to take us to the next level."

Noting several new hires either were former credit union CEOs or employees of shuttered WesCorp, Dykstra said these were triggered by a need for a fresh perspective. New faces include former Alta Vista CU President and CEO Larry Palochik, who has been named SVP of member solutions; Lynn Athens, former CEO of Spectrum FCU in San Francisco, who will be VP of HR and Collaborative Office Solutions; and Tony Kitt, WesCorp's former COO who is the leagues' new SVP of strategic innovation and planning.

"We brought credit union people in at some positions because we cannot service credit unions well if we do not understand them," Dykstra explained. "Many of our people worked at credit unions, but they did so 15 or 20 years ago. I was the freshest one from a credit union [Dykstra was the CEO of San Francisco Fire CU before taking the helm at the leagues in 2010], and we needed a credit union perspective. We didn't set out to hire people from WesCorp, but it is only 15 miles away and the staff that was there was incredibly dedicated and stayed there until the bitter end. They were very talented and understood credit unions in California and Nevada."


Looking Forward

The reorganization is all about "looking forward" and thinking of what the leagues need to do differently, Dykstra continued. She said many of the services the leagues provided 15 years ago were no longer useful. One example is business partner relationships, which give CUs discounts through companies identified by the leagues. "This was big 20 years ago, because credit unions in the marketplace were not well connected," she said. "Today, with the Internet and other opportunities, credit unions don't value us bringing them business partners or pricing advantages, because it is such a connected society. I'm not saying business partners are bad, but in some cases only three or four credit unions are using a partner."

Another step: Kitt's SVP of strategic innovation and planning post, which will oversee planning and project management, digital media, and IT/facilities.

"Tony Kitt's position is new, and is designed to help us be forward-focused and keep up with what is going on in the credit union world," said Dykstra.

Other big picture issues the leagues are tracking include regulations and risks. Dykstra said the leagues have a program called Policy Pro that gives its CUs access to more than 200 sample polices.

"That is big for credit unions trying to manage the regulatory environment," she said. "Other programs help credit unions evaluate their loan portfolios, the risks involved, the migration of credit scores and other issues that need a lot of staff time. We are really looking at how we can help credit unions meet the regulatory burden related to interest rate risk or credit risk."

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