A year ago I had the great honor of accepting the CUNA Board of Directors’ invitation to lead this association.
I promised the association’s members and the 1CUNA team bold leadership on the three prime directives the board gave me:
While we’re making progress, we have a lot of work to do so credit unions can grow and reach their full potential to serve current and future members. Success means credit unions are growing in today’s fast-evolving financial services marketplace.
And that’s when we’ll achieve our shared vision that Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.
It’s a great, ambitious vision requiring a take-no-prisoners strategy to strengthening credit union market share. But to get there we must clear away obstacles such as the complex regulatory burdens we face and the need for greater consumer awareness, and we must improve our engagement level.
We’re chipping away at the regulatory barriers confronting us in Washington and state capitals. Gridlock in Washington long ago pushed away any prospect of big legislative wins. Today we must work on advancing narrowly focused bills and regulatory reform measures.
When added together, these have a significant impact on removing barriers to credit union service. The strong CUNA/League system is pushing through state charter and regulatory relief measures as well.
Consumer sentiment today favors us against the giant Wall Street banks. In fact, Consumer Reports recently gave credit unions its highest rating for service among 22 different business sectors and industries going well beyond Wall Street. It’s time to take greater advantage of that feeling and create deeper awareness of the credit union difference.
For consumers, it’s about showing them how credit unions are special, giving current members the reasons to make us their primary financial institutions, and encouraging others to find credit unions that are right for them. We can empower members to tell their story through digital media and other channels to influence their peers, friends, and family on a massive scale.
For opinion leaders, selected officials, and others who influence public attitudes, we can do more to educate them about our cooperative structure. You can expect more from CUNA as we embark on this journey together.
As a member of Congress, I learned that I had to earn the trust and confidence among the people I represented. You do that every day as you work with members to build financial security in these uncertain times. You have a right to expect best-in-class value for your investment in CUNA, and we will deliver.
So, with one year in, I’m as excited as I was on day one about the opportunity we have to grow the credit union system and serve the people we represent.
The pioneers of our great movement faced nearly impossible odds in the early part of the 20th century as they set out to bring the promise of credit union service—something they’d seen thriving overseas—to the people of the U.S.
Their legacy: Today, one half of the world’s credit union members, more than 100 million people, live in America.
Let’s reignite the spirit and vision that helped them succeed and win for our own work. Let’s embrace that same fearlessness and entrepreneurship, and build a future for ourselves and the people we serve worthy of the legacy they entrusted to us.
JIM NUSSLE is CUNA's president/CEO.