All signs point to a strong year for credit unions in growth, in advocacy, in awareness of the credit union difference—in just about every way you can measure.
During our annual CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, where thousands of credit union advocates gather in Washington, D.C., to fight for credit union issues on Capitol Hill, we regularly set out our agenda for the coming months—and we also take time to celebrate our accomplishments.
We can’t overlook that work. In fact, our recent accomplishments will play a huge role in the success we enjoy going forward.
Between helping elect a pro-credit union majority to Congress and setting attendance records for our educational and professional development programs, we experienced a banner year.
In advocacy, with considerable support from the CUNA/league system, we successfully petitioned NCUA to reduce examination frequency and approve a new member business lending rule and new field of-membership rules that will allow credit unions to better serve their members and communities.
On the legislative side, we worked closely with the House Financial Services Committee—specifically with Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, committee chair—on the Financial CHOICE Act, which with some tweaking presents one of the best opportunities to carve out substantial regulatory relief.
On the political side, the Credit Union Legislative Action Council raised a record $5.1 million and contributed $6 million (when adding in independent corporate expenditures) to 364 congressional elections, winning 97% of those races to ensure a pro-credit union majority in Congress.
This is what we talk about when we refer to 360-degree advocacy. In fact, the National Journal found CUNA and the leagues to be the most effective advocacy organization in financial services, yet another accomplishment.
We also had a record year for conferences, products, and services, with our education and training services reaching more than 16,000 students through 136,000 courses.
Engagement with the CUNA Compliance Community also continues to astound, with thousands of posts and file downloads in its inaugural year. If you or your compliance experts haven’t signed up for the community, make a point to do so as soon as possible.
We set new records in overall CUNA Council memberships while also launching the new CEO Council to great reviews. This makes CUNA Councils, in our opinion, the industry’s premier credit union professional development network.
Meanwhile, we continue to lead efforts that we believe will position the credit union industry for success long into the future.
To support the new Credit Union Awareness Initiative, which aims to correct misconceptions about the industry and raise awareness of credit unions at the national level, we began to conduct new consumer research that will serve as the basis for this work.
Through this project, we believe we can show the nation, once and for all, that credit unions are consumers’ best option in financial services.
We also launched the CU Ledger initiative, which—if found to be feasible in financial services—will ensure the credit union industry remains just as connected as any of the big banks to the fast-changing world of fintech.
I’m looking forward to building on these accomplishments this year.
We’ve launched a new advocacy campaign that aims to reduce regulatory burden on credit unions. And we have many more credit union professionals to reach with our training and learning events and programs.
As credit unions’ strongest advocate, we work to strengthen credit union operating environments so they can serve their members and their communities the best they can.
With CUNA, leagues, credit unions, and members all working together, we’ll continue to grow and win as an industry.
JIM NUSSLE is CUNA's president/CEO.