CUSO grabs credit union program from LPL amid PE-backed expansion

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A credit union investment program serving the Air Force Academy and an expanding client base left LPL Financial for CUSO Financial Services.

Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Air Academy Federal Credit Union has $600 million in assets from its 48,000 members in the military, 10 school districts and more than 250 businesses. The investment program bolted LPL for the Atria Wealth Solutions subsidiary in late December.

CUSO aims to boost the program’s wealth management assets under management to 29% of its bank deposits — about $178 million — from approximately 1750 members, or 4% of the credit union’s members, according to CUSO SEO Valorie Seyfert.

In its first full year under Atria in 2018, CUSO says it added investment programs from banks and credit unions with over $7 billion in assets from more than 600,000 members.

The private equity-backed CUSO works with two of Air Academy’s eight branches, with plans to support more of them. For example, the credit union is preparing to open a new branch in Denver, according to Seyfert.

“CUSO and Air Academy developed a business plan to implement best practices with a long term goal to grow the assets under management and member penetration, to reach the top quartile of performance for credit unions,” says Seyfert.

Representatives for LPL didn’t respond to requests for comment on the move.

Air Academy praises CUSO’s technology offerings, which paired well with the eight-branch credit union’s “all things mobile” initiative to support online and mobile banking systems that allow clients to view their portfolio from any device, according to CEO Glenn Strebe.

The credit union integrated into CUSO’s My Portfolio View technology, which allows clients to access all of their accounts — including mortgage, banking and investment — through a single log-in, Seyfert notes.

CUSO also provides insight and clarity into how Air Academy clients use their accounts. After collecting this information, CUSO “shares, delivers out, and integrates this data,” she says, to improve the credit union’s services.

Air Academy launched with a charter in 1955 to serve cadets, officers and civilians out of the U.S. Air Force Academy. Air Academy’s broker-dealer transition took 90 days thanks to CUSO’s tech and service teams, said Glenn Strebe, CEO of Air Academy, in a statement.

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“Within the first 30 days, our program rep had already built strong internal relationships, garnered new program enrollments, and begun converting our previous book of business,” Strebe said.

"Our mission 'serve those who serve others’ means we have our eye on America's future by serving the military personnel and educators who safeguard and build our society daily,” he continued. “Our investment program through CFS allows us to educate our membership on building a strong and secure financial future.”

Atria Wealth, a wealth management holding company and service provider, bought San Diego-based CUSO and its sister company Sorrento Pacific Financial in 2017. Lee Equity Partners-backed Atria also owns Cadaret, Grant, it and agreed in January to buy Next Financial.

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