a plant growing from a planter filled with coins

AVANA CUSO is proud to be the best credit union service organization (CUSO) for commercial real estate lending. We operate as a true partner by personally guiding CUs through the loan approval process. Likewise, if a good loan were to go bad, we’re an advocate for our credit unions, saving them significant time, money and resources.  

What are the keys to our success?

One of our valuable resources is AVANA CUSO’s Senior Vice President Asset Management, Steven Ellsworth. With an extensive background in commercial banking – specifically managing workout loans – Ellsworth knows precisely how to turn around or dispose of problematic loans  


“We look after it as if it were our money,” Ellsworth says. And this requires constant monitoring and quick reactions. 

First, he knows how to review loans and spot potential red flags to proactively get ahead of issues before they arise. Second, when a loan is at risk of default, bankruptcy or foreclosure, Ellsworth proactively works with the borrower to avoid such outcomes. Additionally, he collaborates as a team with not only the credit union but also AVANA CUSO’s internal staff.

Ellsworth adds, “It’s a team effort, from top to bottom.”

Given these are larger loans with heftier financial implications, the objective is to mitigate or neutralize any loss to the credit union. When a loan goes bad, Ellsworth and team actively work to recoup the principal, normal interest, default interest and legal fees. Since most credit unions have limited means, just the legal fee (which can range from $25-$200k) can cause marked damage to them. Recouping the fees drives the CU’s success as well as our own.

“My whole goal is to maximize [the credit union’s] profitability,” Ellsworth says. “If I look at it from [the CU’s] unique perspective, I can determine how to maximize the income and minimize the loss.”

But Ellsworth doesn’t just focus on bad loans. Rather, he’s a supportive advisor to any borrower who needs it. He may help guide borrowers to a strategic payoff that ultimately makes the borrower’s finances more streamlined. Since every loan, borrower and situation is different, he caters to all the variables that exist, from loan maturity to the borrower’s personality.

Aside from the money saved in fees, interest and more, credit unions gain another widely valuable factor when partnering with AVANA CUSO: an extension of their team. Since most CUs are relatively small, they don’t have the capacity to employ their own CRE loan officer or workout officer. That’s where AVANA CUSO’s extensive expertise and team-centric approach becomes highly valuable. This not only makes credit unions more money but also saves them money on internal resources.

With every loan we save, credit unions consistently tell us they couldn’t have done it without our support and expertise. We take immense pride in that. And we understand the ripple effect of that is huge, because we’re not just saving thousands of dollars on a loan – we’re helping ensure credit unions can continue uplifting the community in which they serve.




Established in 1998 and headquartered in Simi Valley, CA, AVANA CUSO is one of the most seasoned credit union service organizations (CUSO) focused on commercial lending. For decades, we have partnered with credit unions across the country to offer competitive and collaborative CRE loans. We also uniquely support and guide our partners through the entire lifecycle of our loans. AVANA CUSO is a proud member of the AVANA Family of Companies.