Jeff Olson, president/CEO of the Credit Union Association of the Dakotas, talked about the credit union difference and how it benefits consumers in an interview with Prairie Business Magazine published Monday. Olson, who also sits on CUNA’s Consumer Consideration Committee, also delved into the history of credit unions, and how North and South Dakotans can find out what credit unions they’re eligible to join.
“But the biggest challenges probably are the myths that credit unions face…That credit unions are too small, that my money’s not safe, that I can’t join and that they probably don’t have the technology that I need,” Olson said. “So the Credit Union National Association is launching a campaign aimed at dispelling all four of those points.”
Olson described how getting credit unions’ to the top of consumer consideration when it comes to financial services has been an issue for years, and how that problem evolved into the “Open Your Eyes” campaign.
“It's called Open Your Eyes to a Credit Union, and it really debunks those myths about credit unions that I just mentioned. Moreover, our CEO, Jim Nussle, did this right. He did three years of research involving focus groups, polling and going around the country,” Olson said. “That means the whole campaign is based on research. Specifically, our research found that while most people know what credit unions are, they don’t think they can join, or they think their local credit unions are too small, can’t provide mobile services and so on. It’s those myths again. And the fact that the campaign will counter those myths is based on our research, which showed us how widespread the myths are.”
Olson also spoke about credit unions’ presence in the Dakotas.
“We do think we’re a financial alternative to traditional banking. Moreover, banks and credit unions have co-existed for 100 years in both states. A lot of our members also use a bank, and we may not even be their primary financial institution,” he said. “But we do think that we offer a choice, and we think consumers want that choice.”