This page is to keep you informed, we’ll be updating this page as new things come up.
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CONE CU Name Change and Merger FAQs
Questions about the proposed name change:
Why do we need to change our name?
Even now, the name CONE (short for City of Neenah Employees) doesn’t reflect all of the amazing people we serve. While we started as a credit union just for city employees, our membership now includes area teachers, utility workers, State and Federal employees, and more. We hope to expand that field of membership to a community charter, and this new identity will help tell that more inclusive story of who we are while still honoring our history.
Why do we need a new identity (logo)?
This fresh new look will help demonstrate that we’re evolving and future-focused to give our current members an identity they can be proud of and attract new members to help us grow.
Why was this name chosen?
Our 2019 survey of the membership confirmed that you wanted a credit union that was innovative but didn’t lose sight of its history.
We chose to keep the capital C O N and E, so CONE is still recognizable but change the name to ChoiceONE to reflect a more diverse membership.
Why did you choose this logo? Does the design mean something?
What’s interesting about this design is that you can look at it in more than one way. First, together the colorful angles form an intersection, symbolizing your opportunity to choose the right road to success. Second, taken separately, each of those angles is also a checkmark that signifies your ability to meet and exceed your life goals with the help of your local credit union.
What happens if the name change is not approved?
We hope that we’ve provided enough evidence that ChoiceONE is a vibrant and exciting new identity for your credit union and that you’ll choose to vote in favor of this name. However, there is a path forward for us if the name change is not approved. Should that be the case, the CONE Board will continue with a full, traditional merger with Simplicity CU and become another Simplicity branch here in Neenah. CONE CU will no longer exist.
Questions about expanding our field of membership:
Why do we need to grow?
Just like your cost of living, the cost of doing business increases steadily year after year. That affects many things you’d expect, like the cost of employee benefits, supplies, and utilities, as well as things like the cost of meeting State and Federal regulations or maintaining the services you rely on.
It’s our responsibility to serve our membership today and make sure we’re building a strong foundation to continue to serve for years to come. Faced with increased costs, fierce (and continually expanding) competition in the Valley, and historically low interest rates, growth with an expanded charter is our best path to ensure we’ll be here for you in the future.
It also means that you could have more options to get the service you need. Our current branch with the staff you know and love, convenient ATM locations, and potentially another branch closer to you.
Why do we need to become a community-chartered CU?
The reality is this: Our loyal members and potential new members have a lot of financial options – local, larger credit unions, community and national banks, and online financial services, to name a few –that they could choose over CONE. With all of that competition, we’ve struggled to attract and maintain members from our current Select Employee Groups (SEGs).
Expanding our charter (and adding the kinds of new and innovative services that our partnership with Simplicity CU would provide) will give us a bigger target audience and more chances to connect with people who like how we do what we do.
How large are we expecting our credit union to grow?
That’s a great question and one that we’ll learn more about over time. Some of it depends on the market and how we’ll attract new members to CONE. Our overall goal is to grow quickly but carefully to control costs and still offer the level of service you deserve.
Why do we need to expand our field of membership?
There are many good reasons to expand, so let’s look at the top two.
First, we want to reach out into new communities to expand our reach of products and services to HERO groups like police, fireman, teachers, and healthcare workers. These professions have unique needs and are often underserved with traditional financial products.
Second, we’re proud of what we do, and we have such a unique and special offering of products and services that we want to be able to offer them to anyone!
Questions about the proposed network merger:
Are we merging because our credit union is failing?
We know that a merger sounds like a drastic measure, and that can cause concern. The good news is that CONE has continued to be listed as “Well Capitalized” by both the DFI and the NCUA which is proof positive that we’re not ‘failing’.
The not-so-good news, though, is that we are shrinking and finding it harder to attract new members. Because of that we’re choosing to be proactive and consider the best path forward before we’re forced to act.
Why didn’t CONE consider merging with Fox Communities Credit Union or another credit union in the Valley?
Yes! It may seem that the path to a credit union in Central Wisconsin is hard to follow. Your Board of Directors reached out to numerous credit unions, including Fox Communities, to request information and gauge their interest in a partnership or merger. In fact, we contacted nearly all of the credit unions in the Fox Valley, large and small, and several outside of the area, including Simplicity CU.
We felt it was our responsibility to look holistically at the benefits any other credit union could offer our members and choose the best fit.
What is a Network Merger?
A Network Merger is a partnership with a larger credit union that can provide important (and often expensive) support to smaller credit unions to help them succeed. This allows the credit union to benefit from a larger team of experts while it keeps it unique identity.
Notably, CONE and Simplicity CU would be forming the first merger of this kind in the state of Wisconsin so this is a historic opportunity to experience a new and exciting business model that has been successful in other parts of the country.
What is the difference between a Network Merger and a regular merger?
The major differences between the two types of mergers is how the identity of the merging credit union is handled. In a Network Merger, the smaller credit union can retain its history and identity. Not only is this a benefit to current members, it helps ground the credit union in the history of the community it has served.
With a more traditional merger the merging credit union will be effectively dissolved. Even though, very often, the staff and locations still exist, they become a full part of the ‘surviving’ credit union and the identity and history of the smaller credit union are lost.
Why consider a merger at this exact time?
There are a lot of factors that led us to pursue a merger and bring it to our membership for approval.
Things like the rising cost of member services and employee benefits, the changing demographics of the CONE membership along with the expectations of current and future members, CONE’s inability to invest in new products and services that members want and need, and the well-being of our staff were just some of those considerations. With all of those concerns looming, our ability to satisfy our state regulators’ requirements began to suffer and created a higher sense of urgency.
What happens if the merger is not approved?
If the merger is not approved, CONE will be in an almost impossible situation to offer our members the products they need and deserve, the employees the benefits they need and borrowers and savers the current market rates.
What made the board decide that Simplicity CU was the best merger partner?
Simplicity’s financial stability, commitment to the communities they serve, and the ability to meet our membership’s unique needs were certainly important, but that’s not all. Having been able to work with members of the Simplicity Team, we learned that, even though they have a larger staff, they value connection and care for their team and their members just like we do.
They use the name ‘Simplicity Family’ when they talk about their members and staff, and we knew that we would all be welcome as a part of that family.
What will the impact of the merger be on me, personally as a member?
This merger will benefit current and future CONE members in a lot of exciting ways.
For example, you’ll have more options for how and where you’ll do your financial business with:
• A broader suite of products and services
• Our current branch and branches in Central Wisconsin
• Access at thousands of Co-Op shared branches nationwide.
Plus the confidence of knowing that you have a team of compassionate and innovative experts backed by one of the strongest financials in the state!
Is there anything else you could have done to remain independent, or was a merger inevitable?
When it became clear that we needed to make serious changes to keep serving our members, we left no stone unturned. We explored new marketing strategies to attract new members, reduced expenses by consolidating or eliminating products that weren’t serving you like they should and eliminated some of the perks that made us unique, like our Annual Member Picnic.
Finally, after losing and not replacing three full-time staff in 2020 alone, we felt that we had reached the point where we couldn’t offer you the full benefit of being a credit union member without the help of a partner like Simplicity CU.
What will change as a result of a merger (acct #s, passwords, checks, checking acct numbers, credit/debit cards, etc.)?
It’s smart to think about what you may need to do to continue to get the most out of your membership. We know there will be some changes as we move ahead and work through the behind-the-curtain details but our commitment to you is that we’ll make those changes simple, give you straightforward information as we have it, and work with you along the way. Stay tuned for more!
Will our employees be retained?
Yes! All of the CONE staff that you have gotten to know will still be here! We are all very excited to share in the expanded benefits and opportunities for internal promotions that Simplicity will bring!
Will our branch be closed?
No! Our branch will remain open. In fact, we hope to open a second branch in the future as ChoiceONE expands into other communities!
What do members need to do now?
The first thing we hope you’ll want to do is participate in the democratic process and vote in support of the name change (at our Annual Meeting on November 30th) and merger (when the vote happens in early 2021). If you’re not ready to pledge your support quite yet, we’d ask that you reach out to the CONE staff and Board of Directors to discuss any questions or concerns you have.
Once the merger is effective in early 2021, we’ll keep you informed on the finer details of your account numbers, checks, debits cards, etc. Don’t worry. The CONE and Simplicity Team will handle a lot of the heavy lifting for you and be there along to way to make this a smooth and easy transition.