Financial inclusion, industry relevancy among topics tackled in award-winning white papers

One of the primary purposes of Southeast Management School is to prepare each student for a successful career of leadership in the credit union movement. To help accomplish this purpose and as a prerequisite for graduation from the three-year program, students work together in small groups to develop white papers that feature current research, analyses, and proposed solutions for an issue affecting the credit union industry or an opportunity/decision that many credit unions are currently facing or will face in the future.

This year, three groups from the 2024 graduating class were awarded for their white papers during the graduation ceremony on June 21 at the University of Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens, GA. Their white papers are now available to read on the SRCUS website.

Best 3rd Year White Paper Group

Pictured L-R: Brad Ballentine, Denise Chapman, Mike Gibson, Mindy Maghupoy, and Heather Shafer.

White Paper: Relevancy in the Financial Industry: How Current Industry Growth Strategies Do Not Dilute CU Philosophy

About: Credit unions face ongoing challenges in staying relevant as their numbers dwindle each year. Under scrutiny from bankers and lawmakers, their growth strategies are questioned, threatening the future of their tax exemption and regulatory environment. Despite these challenges, credit unions continue to grow while upholding their core principle of ‘people helping people.’

Written by:

  • Brad Ballentine, SAFE Federal Credit Union
  • Denise Chapman, Kimberly Clark Credit Union
  • Mike Gibson, Credit Union of Georgia
  • Mindy Maghupoy, The Infirmary Federal Credit Union
  • Heather Shafer, Marine Federal Credit Union

Excellence in 3rd Year White Paper

Pictured L-R: Shannon Austin, Mandy Baibak, Caroline Bays, Chris Foy, and Wendy James.

White Paper: Serving the Underserved: Understanding How CUs Can Work Toward Financial Inclusion

About: This white paper explores the challenges faced by unbanked and underbanked consumers who rely on costly non-mainstream financial services. It highlights the vital role credit unions play in bridging this financial gap through innovative strategies, alternative financial products, and community partnerships. The paper underscores the importance of financial education and literacy programs and shares success stories of credit unions making a difference through inclusion efforts.

Written by:

  • Shannon Austin, Oteen VA Federal Credit Union
  • Mandy Baibak, SAFE Federal Credit Union
  • Caroline Bays, Tennessee Credit Union League
  • Chris Foy, Peach State Credit Union
  • Wendy James, WinSouth Credit Union

Excellence in 3rd Year White Paper

Pictured L-R: Justin Cousins, Johanna Gillispie, Julie Irvin, Joseph Staff, and Jenny Webb.

White Paper: How CUs Can Navigate the Changing Landscape for Account Fees and Interchange

About: This white paper examines the impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s initiative to scrutinize and potentially eliminate ‘junk fees,’ such as insufficient fund (NSF) fees, on the financial services industry. With larger financial institutions already removing these fees and smaller ones following, the paper explores the implications of this increased regulatory landscape. It delves into the historical reliance on these fees, now deemed ‘junk fees,’ and presents alternative strategies for credit unions to increase non-interest income to offset the anticipated losses from traditional fee and interchange income sources.

Written by:

  • Justin Cousins, Peoples Advantage Federal Credit Union
  • Johanna Gillispie, Go Energy Credit Union
  • Julie Irvin, Georgia’s Own Credit Union
  • Joseph Staff, The Heath & Education Federal Credit Union
  • Jenny Webb, SAFE Federal Credit Union

To be awarded the “Pass with Distinction” recognition, a team must receive a 93 or higher on their white paper. Then the team with the highest of the scores at that threshold are recognized for “Best 3rd Year White Paper Group.”

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