Credit unions must have a unified front in engagement and advocacy, outgoing CUNA Board Chairman Rod Staatz emphasized Monday as he opened the 2017 Annual General Meeting at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC).
“We’re all in this together,” said Staatz, president/CEO of $3 billion asset SECU in Linthicum, Md. “And if we can get all 5,000 people here together, we are going to make a strong statement” for credit unions.
CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle took the stage and thanked Staatz for his leadership throughout the year. He then outlined some of the long list of advocacy victories brought about by the efforts of CUNA, the state credit union associations, and credit unions in 2016.
Nussle noted that, from a credit union advocacy perspective, last year was pretty remarkable. Credit unions earned major victories with NCUA on a number of issues, improving their ability to meet members’ needs and ensuring that consumers will continue to have strong, safe, and sound cooperative financial services options.
Those victories include proposed changes to field-of-membership and member business lending rules, as well as improvements to NCUA’s budget process and examination procedures.
Meantime, Congress made progress toward getting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to acknowledge and use its statutory exemption authority on behalf of credit unions. CUNA, the leagues, and credit unions united 400 members of Congress to write a letter urging the CFPB to shield credit unions from the harmful impact of rules designed to rein in big banks and entities with a track record of abusing consumers.
Nussle noted other 2016 highlights, such as the launch of the Creating Awareness initiative, record-breaking donations to the Credit Union Legislative Action Council to back credit-union friendly candidates, and the leave-behind programs associated with the Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention, and CUNA's America’s Credit Union Conference.
Those leave-behind programs enriched the communities hosting the events through credit union donations and volunteer work.
“We really rocked it,” Nussle said of the credit union “advocacy army” in 2016. “But we were only getting started.”
Going on offense in 2017 will be key, Nussle said.