Who We Are-What We Do

We know credit unions...inside and out! And we definitely know marketing… from the strategic side, the results side, the creative side. Since our start in 1976, we’ve worked with most Leagues, with CUNA and CUES, and with credit unions of every size in almost every state.

Our Claim To Fame— We pioneered a number of powerful industry ideas in a number of critical dimensions:

From “Member Education” To “Marketing”

Our first role was with the Washington League. Believe it or not, there was a time when credit unions did not do marketing“marketing” should mean for credit unions when everybody was afraid of the word. We created a state-wide program for the league that evolved into a multi-state effort (with other Leagues) that delivered simple, effective promotional tools and instructions to hundreds of credit unions…most for the very first time!

The National Share Draft Program

This one was a biggie! It was 1987. We, along with Chase Manhattan Bank and CUNA's R&D section, introduced checking account services to the world of credit unions. Our role was the development of the “Great Leaps Beyond” national marketing program. We were then commissioned by CUNA to do a two-year program of What/ Why/ How (to start your checking program) workshops in conjunction with almost every League in the U.S.

Three Books On Marketing

For CUES, we wrote the first-ever book that established the dimensions of marketing and promotion for credit unions. We did two more books aimed at helping credit unions gain an expanded role in the consumer banking market. The last one— “How To Get More Of Your Members To Do More Of Their Banking With You!” is available here: (free download!)

National Checking Account Study

For Harland, we conducted a national market survey on the use of checking accounts that provided some tremendously revealing insights about “packaging” this critical service. OK, it was a few years back, but to our thinking, those findings and conclusions are still totally relevant today. Download it from our Reference Library.

The Annual “High Performance” Standard

We developed the annual “High Performance” standard that measures the achievements of credit unions throughout the country in terms of their connections with members. Each year we gather, analyze and review statistics (drawn directly from year-end NCUA 5300 reports), and publish the annual “High Performers” list of credit unions (see the “HP List” elsewhere on this website!)

Online Employee Surveys

We developed and introduced the first CU-only online employee survey program…and now conduct annual surveys for almost 50 regular survey clients. It's all here!

Market-Based Strategic Planning

We pioneered a unique “Market-Based" approach to strategic planning, one that held to the premise that “No, you don’t get to plan whatever you want. Rather, you MUST develop strategies that the market calls for, if you hope to be successful in the current retail banking environment." Check it out here!

We try to push the envelope at every turn! Our professional objective always has been to help credit unions achieve and maintain market prominence in the highly-competitive world of consumer banking. We don’t do things that are cute, we don't copy what everyone else does. We work with ideas that will have a positive impact, based on the wiles and rules of the marketplace.

The Team

TonyTony Ward-Smith
Two things he loves to hear when people introduce him as a speaker at national conferences: “He knows credit unions!”...and...”He makes you think!” He also knows Marketing from start to finish. And he knows how people work in group contexts, how they do (and don’t!) manage change effectively, how organizations can improve performance. Advertising guy, speaker, writer, university professor, business owner, nationally-known consultant, Tony decided, several decades ago, to turn his professional career in the direction of helping the national credit union community grow and prosper. He’s been working at it ever since!

DickRichard Warren
Design in its purest sense. Precision. Exactness. Aesthetic integrity. Fonts. Colors. Graphic elements. Dynamic, interactive art. All of this is Dick. It’s his territory...totally. He started as an illustrator, doing complex drawings of anatomy and medically-related protocols. His client list included major Pacific Northwest law firms who used his expertise to win large-scale (read: “Lots of money!”) lawsuits. His tight commitment to graphic excellence is also perfectly suited to his love of book design. And fortunately, now, we have him driving the design side of web development for the national credit union community.

JustinJustin VonHagen
He’s a Microsoft Partner. He’s our IT platform guy. Justin knows ASPX like few do. When he presents our work to credit union Internet service providers, they very quickly tend to defer to his knowledge, his thinking , his suggestions. That, of course, is good for us, good for them...and very good for clients. So what, exctly, does he know? XML/XSL, SOAP, DHTML, CSS, IE DOM, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, Visual Basic, HTML, SQL, .NET Framework, C#, ASP.NET, ADO.NET, Sharepoint Portal Server, Microsoft CRM, MapPoint.NET, Web Services, Exchange Server and email Protocols and the UNIX, DOS, Windows9x, XP, .NET, NT/2000-03, and Mac operating systems. And— basic knowledge of C, Pascal Java, C++, and Visual C++. And that’s just for starters!

DeanDean Smith
Somebody had to write the complicated programming that pulls a ton of statistics from an extensive NCUA database every year and formats it all into the “HP” formulas posted on our site. Dean— “Ol graybeard”— is our man for that (actually, he’s a lot younger than he looks!). All of which allows us to ask the penetrating queston: Is your credit union on the “HP” list? Just remember, the numbers are yours... just the program that runs them is his. Dean also designed the highly efficient package that drives our online employee survey service. His fascinating background includes some unspecified pioneering work in security analysis...in the middle of the Pacific Ocean...for the NSF... in collaboration with the CIA. But it was years ago, and quite another story!


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