After getting his start with credit unions recruiting members in his native Australia in the 1980s, Mark Lynch moved to the U.S. in 2004.
Since then, he’s helped transform how credit unions think about and serve low-income families.
As senior program manager for the National Credit Union Foundation, Lynch has helped credit unions understand how CUNA’s Enhanced Financial Counseling Certification Program (FiCEP) can transform their service culture.
Lynch is a big reason why more than 2,100 financial counselors have been certified through FiCEP.
Lynch was also instrumental in developing the Foundation’s retirement fairs.
Based on the groundbreaking reality fair concept—another Foundation initiative—retirement fairs are designed to get people to think more carefully about life after their working years by providing participants a simulation of day-to-day life on a retirement budget.
The Foundation’s nonprime auto lending program, another Lynch-led initiative, was also designed to lead consumers toward financial stability.
Designed in partnership with the Filene Research Institute, the initiative works to provide members with weak or no credit histories, or limited payment capacity, with access to affordable car loans.
Lynch says reality fairs, retirement fairs, and subprime lending programs underscore educational and service opportunities for credit unions.
In that vein, when speaking to credit union audiences, he often cites a U.S. Social Security Administration statistic that puts the nation’s median per capita wage at about $27,519.
“The perception is that people are just bad at managing their money," Lynch says. "Yet when presenting that statistic virtually every person agrees: People aren’t earning enough to be able to get away from the financial edge.
"So therefore, as credit unions, we can provide the products and services, and education that can help stretch those dollars a little further so they can slowly get away from the edge.”