Credit unions have responded to our movement-wide commitment to Financial Well-being for All™.
This initiative has gone from an idea brought up on the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference stage to—as National Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland and I like to say—the new “people helping people.”
It’s becoming the national perspective of the credit union movement because of the leadership of credit union champions like you. It’s changed how we talk about ourselves, how we advocate, and how we plan for the future.
Serving our members and communities is nothing new for credit unions. But when we put it all under the umbrella of Financial Well-being for All, we’re using common language, common goals, and a common theme to everything we do.
Improving peoples’ financial health is how we’re able to achieve advocacy wins in these divided political times.
We're finding success in Congress and in statehouses because we’ve framed our advocacy in terms of financial well-being. Policymakers are headed to the floor vote knowing they can’t in good conscience vote against improving the financial health of their communities.
Take our field-of-membership modernization bill. It’s the most natural thing in the world to us—let credit unions serve more people—but some policymakers question our motives and our ability to what we claim we’ll do with modernized fields of membership.
Our message has been simple: We want the ability to serve communities the banks have left behind.
We’ve seen the bill pass the House, and we’re currently framing our discussions with senators using Financial Well-being for All as our lens.
I love the ways I’ve seen credit union leaders take control of this idea. All around the country credit union leaders have challenged themselves to look for needs that aren’t being met and to find a way to meet those needs.
There are financial deserts in too many communities. Those can’t co-exist with Financial Well-being for All.
For those of you looking for a place to start, or something to keep you from becoming stagnant, here are the two things I hear most from credit union leaders:
1. Use data. The data is out there to show you how to reach underserved groups in your community, extend safe loans to those with bad credit scores, and provide financial counseling to people who need it.
Not every credit union will have the same solution, but there are possibilities everywhere.
2. Collaborate. Everyone is somewhere on their Financial Well-being for All journey. Look to those further along for inspiration and to find out what’s working.
Share your experiences with those who are not as far along as you. Seek out and partner with organizations in your community that share your mission.
No one said it would be easy, or that there won’t be speedbumps along the way. But I’ve seen great things from the leaders in our movement, and I know there are great things to come.
We’ve set our sights high for a reason: to bring the credit union difference—and its proven positive financial outcomes—to as many people as possible.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO at Credit Union National Association.