A: I’ll borrow a phrase from CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle, who says the issues we advocate for may not change but how we do this must change because of how people communicate. If you go back 30 years, we didn’t have Twitter, Facebook, or other social media, and we didn’t have video. The hot new technology was the fax machine.
How are we reaching out to and educating the next generation of people who are joining credit unions? We also need to educate members of Congress and other elected officials that a strong and vibrant credit union movement is important to the U.S. economy and to their communities.
Plus, we have to take part in advocacy on the regulatory side. Many of the rules or concerns we need to address don’t come from new laws being passed, they’re from regulators. Whether it’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau [CFPB], NCUA, or state regulators, we must be aggressive in terms of outreach and education to ensure decisions made on the regulatory side don’t harm credit unions.
Litigation advocacy also is important to roll back or oppose bad rules and regulations, and support those that help credit unions serve their members.
Our advocacy must be fierce and bold 365 days a year. We’re always on offense because that gives credit unions the tools, rules, and ability to serve their members and communities.
That’s where being member-owned is a competitive advantage. Every member is a lobbyist. Every member can tell the story of how their credit union improves their financial well-being on a daily basis. Credit unions help them get their first home, set up their first checking account, or get their first business loan.
Credit unions are the first to raise their hands in traditionally underserved areas of the country that have been overlooked by the banking system and say, “these are the people we’re going to serve.”
That’s a great message we can share as lobbyists and advocates. But it’s infinitely more impactful when that story comes from someone who’s benefited from joining a credit union and asking, “how can I take my first step on the path to financial well-being?”
A: The ability to marry storytelling with data is incredibly important. We don’t get to pick how people get their information, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, talk radio, or the daily paper.
We take advantage of every communication channel to share the credit union message and ensure people know they should support credit unions. It’s as simple as that.
A: Many are threats to noninterest revenue: the continual assault on interchange and overdraft protection. That’s not going to change, especially when you have a CFPB director who gives speeches about junk fees.
Members need to know that, when they’re at the grocery store and they’re short by $5, they can still make that payment, take their groceries home, and feed their family.
That’s a threat we’ll continually talk about to educate members of Congress that they shouldn’t support changes in these areas. We’ll also address data security and privacy.
A: Success will be that we’ve advanced the credit union message, had no bill introduced to take away our tax status, and that hundreds of representatives and dozens of senators don’t sign onto overdraft protection legislation that will likely be introduced.
We’re moving forward on our loan maturity rates issue. We had a bill in the last Congress with Sen. Cortez Master, D-Nev., and Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
We’d like to get a markup on raising or eliminating the member business loan cap so credit unions can serve small businesses. There may be an economic downturn or recession in 2023, and small businesses will need additional capital. This will allow us to serve those members to keep the economy growing and moving forward.
There might be a little whiplash going on with an evenly divided Congress. We need to identify common sense, bipartisan pieces of legislation that will pass, and this is where I’m excited on the advocacy side. Whether it’s board modernization, SAFE banking, or the extension of Central Liquidity Facility enhancements, there will be opportunities for us to advance our agenda.
We’re as welcome in former Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office as we will be in Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s office due to the years of trust we’ve built up with both Democrats and Republicans. That’s because we work on behalf of their constituents to improve financial well-being for all in their districts.