Keep Members at the Center of Business Decisions

Robert N. Trunzo, President and CEO of TruStage

I’ve always believed that when you focus on the customer, good things happen. That’s a mantra I’ve leaned on throughout my TruStage career, including the past decade as CEO. I’ve seen the positive outcomes of that approach time and time again—for credit unions, their members and our organization.

Those positive outcomes have been apparent since the moment I joined TruStage, then known as CUNA Mutual Group, back in 2005. I was new to the credit union movement, and my role on our sales team provided a clear line-of-sight into the services, products and support credit unions provide to their members and communities.

I quickly learned credit unions are an essential part of the financial industry and address an important need. As not-for-profit organizations that focus on the unique needs of their communities, credit unions provide access to a financially secure future for people who might be overlooked by other financial institutions.

For many Americans, the largest asset they pass on to their family is life insurance or an annuity. Credit unions’ ability to offer these products to members through TruStage means the credit union is there for every critical stage of a member’s life—their first checking and savings account, first car, first home and protecting loved ones when they most need it.

This partnership has benefited middle-market consumers for nearly 90 years. Throughout this time, both TruStage and credit unions have adapted by adding products and services as member needs evolved. This continual change is essential for all of us to remain relevant to those we serve.

Together, we’ve been able to simplify the process of obtaining insurance by meeting members where they want to do business—with their trusted credit union. While 10 or 15 years ago that preferred location might have been a local branch or drive-up window, today more members want to conduct business digitally whenever it’s most convenient for them. We’ve worked with credit unions to ensure these digital options are accessible, intuitive and simple to complete.

Our members are also savvy consumers. They want to learn about products, ask questions and purchase life insurance via an app or website. Once upon a time, that opportunity for consultation was only available by reaching contact centers between 9am and 5pm. Technology has expanded that accessibility, making it easy for members to review their accounts and ask questions through online portals 24 hours a day—and we’ve added extra hours at contact centers to provide even more flexibility. Focusing on convenience for members can only increase loyalty, engagement and satisfaction for credit unions and TruStage.

Another way TruStage has focused on change is by bringing new products, processes and platforms into our credit union partnership through venture funds and fintech startups in which we’ve invested. These new tools allow us to meet the current needs of members who prefer digital transactions—and access to emerging tools and services enables us to prepare for new expectations from members in the future.

As I approach my retirement in October, I can say the most rewarding aspect of my career over the past 18 years has been my relationship with the excellent people in credit unions and our amazing 4,200 TruStage employees. The passion and focus on serving credit unions and their members was never more evident than during the pandemic. TruStage has paid more than $150 million in COVID-related death claims, and our team was able to pay 70% of those claims in 10 days or less.

The dedication and commitment to being there when people need us the most runs deep for our employees and across the credit union movement. I’m honored to have served as TruStage’s CEO, and I want to assure you we’re in great hands with my successor, Terrance Williams, who’s as impressive on a personal level as his extensive resume in financial services would indicate.

Throughout many lengthy conversations during our leadership transition, Terrance has shared numerous examples of his commitment to adapting to meet ever-evolving conditions in the marketplace. He, too, believes that good things happen when you focus on the customer. In this new era, I look forward to seeing how TruStage and credit unions will continue to evolve to provide financial access to local communities and people who benefit from that access. 

Robert N. Trunzo will retire after 18 years at TruStage in October 2023. He became the eighth president and chief executive officer of CUNA Mutual Group in 2014 after joining the company in 2005. During his tenure, he held several roles including chief operating officer and executive vice president of sales and marketing. In 2023, under his leadership, the company unified its portfolio of insurance, investment and technology solutions under one single brand—TruStage.