Nearing 3 Years, ‘Plexcity’ Continues Adding Value to CU Leagues

Plexcity’s planning session in late August for its board of directors (top row; L-R): Board Chairman John Bratsakis, CEO of the Maryland-D.C. Credit Union Association; Cindy Cavanaugh, CFO of Plexcity; Board Member Dennis Tanimoto, CEO of the Hawaii Credit Union League; and John Drago, CTO of Plexcity.  Bottom row (L-R): Board Member Scott Earl, CEO of Mountain West Credit Union Association; Board Secretary David Frankil, CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League; Tony Kitt, CEO of Plexcity; Board Member Jill Nowacki, CEO of the Connecticut Credit Union League; Lynn Athens, CAO of Plexcity; Board Vice Chairman Diana Dykstra, CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; and Board Member Paul Mercer, CEO of the Ohio Credit Union League.
Plexcity’s planning session in late August for its board of directors (top row; L-R): Board Chairman John Bratsakis, CEO of the Maryland-D.C. Credit Union Association; Cindy Cavanaugh, CFO of Plexcity; Board Member Dennis Tanimoto, CEO of the Hawaii Credit Union League; and John Drago, CTO of Plexcity.  Bottom row (L-R): Board Member Scott Earl, CEO of Mountain West Credit Union Association; Board Secretary David Frankil, CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League; Tony Kitt, CEO of Plexcity; Board Member Jill Nowacki, CEO of the Connecticut Credit Union League; Lynn Athens, CAO of Plexcity; Board Vice Chairman Diana Dykstra, CEO of the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; and Board Member Paul Mercer, CEO of the Ohio Credit Union League.

Fresh into being a mere “start-up,” Plexcity is reaping noticeable attention in the credit union industry as it matures beyond those boundaries into a respected partner that is helping empower credit union trade associations and affiliate organizations—a goalpost its visionaries have worked tirelessly to reach.

In an interview with CU Weekly, CEO Tony Kitt says “something bigger” is taking shape as the back office shared-services company that supports human resources, accounting and information technology approaches its third year in existence after a lengthy and painstaking kick-start phase. The territory that this rare cooperative blazed through since opening its doors in January of 2015 has proven much more valuable than just a worthwhile experiment. Plexcity is here to stay and sitting on the edge of new opportunities, Kitt said.

“The original shared-service idea behind Plexcity is what drives our enthusiasm to this day,” he said. “If anything has changed since we were founded, we’ve become more hyper-focused on delivering real value to our clients.”

The company is actively looking at how it can continue to serve a growing number of trade associations and other clients that are realizing the unique value of partnering together on back-office employee functions. Interest from potential new members is running high, which was a crucial topic during Plexcity’s planning session for its board of directors in late August.

The collaborative spirit behind this disruptor has its roots in the industry’s “CUSO-like” mentality (Credit Union Service Organization). It harbored only three member-owners when launched nearly three years ago. An innovative concept was born when these pioneers put ideas into action, and today Plexcity boasts 13 clients—8 of which are owners of the cooperative. Those users include 10 state credit union leagues, the National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS), a payments association, and a CUSO.

“Upping our client’s game, reducing their key-person risk, and lowering their costs all constitute why we keep adding member-owners and clients,” Kitt said. “As we continue to be the experts in these areas, Plexcity clients can target what matters most: Providing their member credit unions real value with meaningful education and information, valuable business partnerships, and positively impacting and improving their member’s position in the marketplace through a strong and dedicated focus on consumer, legislative, and regulatory advocacy.”

Kitt said the significance behind the company’s beginnings was evident during the recent planning session. In the world of trade associations, talk runs deep about their ability to adapt to future challenges. Associations of all types—both credit union and non-credit union—continue to experience a fundamental paradigm shift as competitive forces shape their members’ expectations.

But what hasn’t changed is the need to thrive, let alone survive. Association leaders, especially those serving credit unions, are recognizing the need for shared scalability in core back-office activities that resemble each other more often than not.

Plexcity’s uncommon approach to integrating human resources, accounting, and information technology into one provider sets the stage for new and increased efficiencies so individual trade association brands can flourish. From Hawaii, all the way to the East Coast and locations in between, their behind-the-scenes departments all benefit from one shared resource that’s delivered and maintained remotely through unified cloud-based software applications, a help-desk email network, and “just a phone call away” service.

And in the same vein as credit unions, the “one member-one vote” concept is alive and well. It’s one reason underpinning the decision by Plexcity’s most recent owner, the Credit Union League of Connecticut, to join earlier this year. As Plexcity’s newest member-owner, this league has one vote in the board room like every other owner, and Plexcity’s staff provides the association equal attention and service.

With the retirement of the Connecticut league’s director of human resources and accounting, President and CEO Jill Nowacki reflected on her association’s strategic direction in a world where many nonprofit organizations that serve business members are finding it difficult to flourish. “We want to make our strongest investments in the people who serve our members directly rather than on the back-office side,” Nowacki said. “Plexcity has given us the ability to have our own top-level talent in the back office as well.”

More importantly, the Connecticut league can be “incredibly and strategically focused on member-facing operations and double-down on our reinvestment within those areas,” she explained—all while being an owner of a cooperative that’s making sure its back-office activities are running smoothly and successfully.

“Somebody told me early on in my career that it’s important to keep your organization’s money and people close to you,” Nowacki said. “If you consider outsourcing human resources, accounting and information technology, it can be very daunting. Plexcity provides us a path to be directly engaged with strong teams on all fronts. We don’t feel like we are outsourcing, but instead we’ve strengthened our team.”

Kitt said the past three years have put Plexcity’s special model to the test, giving the company’s team an opportunity to continually refine it. The team strives to deliver a seamless support experience once systems are officially integrated.

For now, the momentum coming from an array of interest within the credit union system hasn’t let up. Plexcity continues to be a candidate for shared ownership by other potential credit union associations and industry partners. Buying into the cooperative structure with a one-time capital commitment provides an immediate return on investment in the form of cost savings. Members are committed to driving down costs together rather than individually.

“The vibe around here feels like we’re breaking out in a big way,” Kitt said. “Over the next couple of years we’ll be providing much value to the credit union league system.”

About Plexcity Owners and Clients
Plexcity’s owners and clients include the California and Nevada Credit Union Leagues; Cornerstone Credit Union League; Hawaii Credit Union League; Louisiana Credit Union League; MD-DC Credit Union Association; Mountain West Credit Union Association; New Jersey Credit Union League; National Association of State Credit Union Supervisors (NASCUS); Ohio Credit Union League; O’Rourke and Associates; Pennsylvania Credit Union Association; Credit Union League of Connecticut; and WesPay Advisors

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