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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

MDT E3 Conference Draws its Biggest Crowd to Date by Engaging, Educating and Empowering

By W.B. King

Among reasons representatives from 57 credit unions made the trek to the Member Driven Technologies (MDT) MDT E3 Conference was to network with other C-level executives using the same core system and core-integrated vendors.

April Schultz and Sarah Gibbs meet with MDT clients at the Women in Leadership Committee and Social Justice Committee booth.

“I attended this year’s conference to learn more about the future development roadmaps for MDT and Jack Henry,” OUR Credit Union CEO Darren Cameron said of the event that took place in late May 2023 at the Westin in Southfield, Mich. The $380 million Royal Oak, Mich.-based credit union supports more than 24,000 members and five branch locations.

Among highlights for Cameron was being invited to a CEO roundtable luncheon hosted by Dave Foss, board chair and CEO of Jack Henry & Associates. MDT, a credit union service organization (CUSO), hosts the Symitar core processing system from Jack Henry that provides a private cloud alternative for core processing and IT needs.

During the sit-down nosh, Foss said that in challenging economic times, credit unions must move toward opportunities and that digital and fintech connections should remain top of mind.

OUR Credit Union CEO Darren Cameron.

“I was fortunate enough to attend a lunch meeting,” Cameron told Finopotamus. “That was an extremely beneficial opportunity to hear the future direction and technology development roadmap directly from the company CEO.”

Dana Morris, senior vice president of information technology at Greenville Federal Credit Union, attended to strengthen relationships with MDT, fellow credit unions and vendors.

“A healthy peer network is vital to collaboration that will spark conversations, garner trust, and improve our credit union’s understanding and visibility with emerging technologies, partnerships and risks,” she said.

The $418 million Greenville, S.C.-based credit union supports more than 33,000 members at five branch locations.

“In addition to the networking benefits, it was important to understand the breadth of new and updated solutions that will be available over the next twelve months,” Morris said. “Access to MDT and Jack Henry employees who can answer questions about system improvements/deficiencies and third-party integrations proved extremely advantageous.”

While Morris didn’t offer specific details, she learned about multiple new Jack Henry solutions that the credit union intends to implement as soon as possible.

“Having a forum where the solutions that are, or will be, available within the next twelve months substantially improves the project and budget planning process,” she said.

Facilitating Important Connections

Carla Bettens, vice president of marketing at MDT, explained that 2023 marked the 10th anniversary of the conference. She added that the name was changed this year from MDT Connect to MDT E3 Conference.

“As the industry and our clients continue to transform, we realized that our previous conference name, ‘Connect,’ didn’t capture all that we were doing with this event,” she told Finopotamus. “Yes, we were facilitating important connections, but we were doing much more than that, and wanted to update the name to reflect its theme and how this conference has evolved over the past 10 years.”

MDT Vice President of Marketing Carla Bettens.

Based in Farmington Hills, Mich., MDT supports 113 credit union clients. The rebranded conference, developed from client feedback, focused on three themes: engage, educate and empower, noted Bettens.

“We received over 40 name and theme submissions. We built the event for our credit unions to assure they had the opportunity to engage with fellow MDT clients, MDT employees and business partners,” she continued. “As well as to get educated on industry trends and technology and product updates.” This approach, she added, allows attendees to walk away “feeling empowered with both soft skills and essential business knowledge for continued success.”

Nearly 300 people, including MDT and Jack Henry executives, and 14 other business partners, gathered for the event. With 66 first-timers, a packed vendor hall and 40 scheduled sessions, this was the largest event to date.

“Each year, more of our credit union clients are attending our conference as they understand the value in participating in educational and training sessions, hearing directly from MDT and Jack Henry about our strategic roadmap and networking with their credit union peers,” Bettens said.

“While virtual events certainly have advantages and can be extremely beneficial, there’s something about gathering in person and having face-to-face conversations that simply can’t be replicated over a screen,” she continued. “Recognizing this has led us to our new brand and theme, centered around the transformative power of meaningful in-person connections and engagement with others.”

In Cameron’s view, MDT being a CUSO underscores Bettens point about how the event informs a strategic roadmap.

“CUSOs are a critical part of the credit union movement especially for small-to-mid size credit unions that do not have the same amount of available resources as the larger credit unions,” he noted. “They allow us to compete on an even playing field and stay up-to-date on new product development and regulatory requirements.”

Morris echoed Cameron’s stance, adding that Greenville Federal Credit Union leverages multiple CUSOs for varying services.

“Those partnerships are some of the most important we have. CUSOs understand the needs and practices of the credit union industry,” she continued. “If credit unions can pool resources with a provider that thoroughly understands their mission and needs that is a win for the industry.”

The Primary Motivation

Since the conference realized “remarkable growth and success,” Bettens said MDT is currently undertaking a “thorough evaluation process” to explore "potential alternative" venues.

“We are also considering the possibility of maintaining our current venue for the 2024 event,” she said. “Our intention is to host our MDT E3 Conference at the same time in 2024, specifically the week preceding Memorial Day weekend.”

Greenville Federal Credit Union Senior Vice President of Information Technology Dana Morris.

This is welcome news to both Cameron and Morris who have already marked their calendars for next spring’s event.

“I definitely plan to attend next year,” Cameron said. “I had the opportunity to meet many other CEOs as well gained additional insight into the future priorities of both MDT and Jack Henry.”

Morris added: “The opportunity to expand relationships at every level is the primary motivation. Exposure to industry experts, emerging solutions/vendors and core systems representation is a close second.”


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