Under a united and strong CUNA banner, credit unions, leagues, and our system partners have again rallied to serve the best interests of credit union members.
We left the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) in late February having reconnected with friends, and we drew inspiration from noted business and political leaders.
Our meetings with elected officials and regulators reinforced our resolve to gain their support on issues critical to our future. Revising credit union field of membership rules, easing regulatory burden, holding merchants to the same data security standards, and preserving our not-for-profit tax status all resonated here in Washington. We got their attention.
Last year I said I would listen, learn, help, and lead this great movement that binds us together. I’m thankful for all the perspective and ideas you shared.
You’ve motivated and inspired me about what our unified CUNA/league system can do.
From that experience, three core tenets have emerged that now guide my work:
1. Credit unions are different, and we celebrate that difference in all we do.
2. We reject the “one-size-fits-all” homogenization of financial services promoted out of convenience by policymakers and regulators, an approach that robs us of our very nature. We aren’t banks, so they must stop treating us like banks.
3. Credit unions are the financial services disruption Americans are searching for today. We’ll lead and confidently assert our relevance in the marketplace.
At CUNA GAC, we launched a new initiative that I hope will be a fun way to share what credit unions mean to us. Using the social media tag #CUdifference, my wife Karen and I have recorded a handful of 15-second videos with other CUNA leaders explaining how credit unions improve the lives of their members.
We posted them online and it took off from there. The GAC Crashers got involved, as did dozens of others. Even Olympic great Apolo Anton Ohno, who was in our Exhibit Hall, recorded a video.
Here’s your chance to get in on the fun of sharing your #CUdifference story on social media. Simply record a 15-second (or less) video explaining what credit unions mean to you, ending the video with the words “and that’s the credit union difference.” Post your video on social media using the tag #CUdifference to join our growing chorus.
Confidently declare with your own video how:
• We’re local, not-for-profit financial cooperatives controlled by our members.
• We return earnings to our members and not to Wall Street.
• We serve middle-class Americans and help low-income families and the underserved afford a better life.
And here’s the kicker: Talking about the credit union difference really does make a difference at home and in our united advocacy effort. Our research shows that the more consumers know about credit unions and understand how we’re different from banks, the more they’re attracted to credit unions.
They’ll get more engaged in advocacy and will do business with us. They like what we stand for.
We’re already seeing success, but I know more is possible. Just look at these numbers:
• Credit union membership growth rose 3% for the third consecutive year in 2015, faster than the U.S. population growth.
• Loan growth was up double digits two years in a row.
• Our small-business lending growth continues to exceed that of banks.
• Home mortgage originations have climbed steadily since 2006.
So let’s keep repeating the message that credit unions are different— every week, every day of the year.
Let’s build on the legacy that credit union pioneers such as Ed Filene established.
Let’s celebrate and accelerate the disruption we’re already bringing to today’s financial services marketplace. And let’s continue the fight to break down barriers so we can bring credit union service to more Americans and grow market share.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of CUNA.