Thanks to a “record year” in fiscal 2017, which ended Sept. 30, 2017, the credit union service organization CU*NorthWest on Tuesday said it will be adding a “bonus return” to its owner credit unions.

CU*NorthWest was founded in 2005 as a part of the network of credit unions and CUSOs. It is a 100 percent credit union-owned cooperative CUSO located in Liberty Lake, Wash. CU*NorthWest offers a wide variety of services to credit unions, including its flagship CU*BASE processing system, online and in-house, and Internet development services featuring It’s Me 247 online and mobile banking.

The CU*NorthWest board of directors said in addition to the bonus dividend, the company’s stock price rose by 6% and all customers had multiple fees reduced on their September invoices.

Greg Smith, CEO of CU*NorthWest, noted the organization’s board is composed of CEOs from credit unions who own stock in the company.

“I am so proud of our board and the cooperative spirit they displayed in this process,” Smith said in a statement. “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.”

Chuck Papenfus, CEO of Inland Valley FCU in Fontana, Calif., is board chair for CU*NorthWest.
Chuck Papenfus, CEO of Inland Valley FCU in Fontana, Calif., is board chair for CU*NorthWest.

Chuck Papenfus, the CUSO’s board chair, said, “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.”

Papenfus is CEO of Inland Valley FCU in Fontana, Calif., and past chairman of the California Credit Union League.

Jennifer Oliver, CEO of South Bay Credit Union in Redondo Beach, Calif., 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, meaning the 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.

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