President's Perspective
news.cuna.org/articles/105977-advocacy-is-job-one-at-cuna

Advocacy Is Job One at CUNA

We receive our direction and draw our strength from you.

June 1, 2015

CUNA's work advocating for the best interests of credit unions and our member-owners has always involved active engagement with and feedback from you, our member credit unions. We get our direction and draw our strength from you, allowing us to represent your best interests on Capitol Hill, in the courts, and with government agencies. Since last November, the CUNA Board-appointed System Structure and Governance Task Force has been examining how to modernize and align our independent interests and traditions into an interdependent alliance. The goal is to deliver on our most important value proposition to you: advocacy.

Last month the CUNA Board, league presidents, and CEOs of the National Credit Union Roundtable discussed the Task Force’s ideas for the future. I’m impressed with the high-level of interest. I expect the Task Force will deliver a report to the CUNA Board later this year.

Through a thorough survey and focus group process, the Task Force members heard your concerns and ideas. You can be proud of the time and attention they’ve taken to consider every option and angle as they deliberated the future. And you can rest assured that no final recommendation or decision will be made before safeguarding that our structural and governance direction is in the best interests of the credit union movement and our cooperative ability to provide the very best advocacy you expect and deserve.

That’s as it should be. CUNA’s advocacy work must unite the views of all our member credit unions. Only then does the association have the strength and the marching orders to advocate on issues.

Our most recent work to protect, defend, and advocate for the credit union system following the financial crisis has been one of the most sustained efforts CUNA has seen. The zeal of many regulators and lawmakers to “clean up” financial markets, especially Wall Street banks, made your job more difficult, and our work even more important.

At agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) our work has been constant. This regulator undermines its mission to work to protect consumers from abuse at the hands of unregulated providers when its rules result in less service or more expensive service from credit unions. These new rules have hurt many hard-working, middle-class families by making it harder to qualify for credit at their credit union and by making it more difficult and more expensive to send money to family members overseas.

It shouldn’t be this way. We’re working hard to remove barriers so you can better serve members, unencumbered by regulatory schemes that don’t fit our business model.

In my short time at CUNA I’ve come to appreciate the great diversity of our movement and the unifying business principles we all share as cooperatives. I’m excited about the future and the prospect of bringing the promise of credit union membership to more people.

To win, we need to play more offense in advancing the best interests of credit unions and the more than 100 million members who rely on us for their financial security. And winning for me is when all Americans have access to credit unions and our movement and industry is growing members and market share.

You can be sure that we have you squarely in mind as we work hard to refresh and elevate the value proposition that membership in your association means. I firmly believe that by working together—and involving the more than 100 million credit union members in our effort—we can achieve our shared system vision that Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.