Credit unions—now and in the future—should always strive to promote financial well-being for all and advance the communities they serve, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle said Monday at the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference.
“Banks are abandoning communities, and the ones that are left aren’t locally owned anymore. Bank deserts are all over the place,” Nussle said. “Fintechs, payday and online lenders, they can’t do what we do and they certainly aren’t helping improve financial well-being.”
This leadership includes advocating for what credit union members need, because credit unions know best as part of the communities they serve.
“Credit unions were born to protect consumers and provide them safe access to financial services. We don’t require lectures from Washington bureaucrats,” Nussle said. “We want to be able to accomplish the mission we’ve been chartered to fulfill. We are—and always have been—the original consumer protectors, and that’s not going to change.”
Policymakers want to know how credit unions have earned that “special status,” he says, which requires credit union leaders to remain on advocacy offense.
Nussle says data is a major part of advocacy, showing the numbers—often dollars and cents—behind the credit union difference. He pointed to CUNA’s latest auto lending data as an example.
“Credit unions are 1.5 times more likely to lend to non-prime borrowers than banks. These non-prime borrowers have substantially higher payment performance than at banks. Credit unions have the lowest 60-plus day delinquency in the industry, for both prime and non-prime borrowers,” Nussle said. “That tells a great story of how we’re making a real difference for people that need our help.”
Nussle showed conference attendees a clip from a February episode of TODAY that showed personal finance reporter Sharon Epperson talking about saving money on auto loans, and that credit unions were demonstrably more affordable than banks.
We have the numbers to show what Sharon is saying is backed up with data, he said.
Two-thirds of Americans are financially unhealthy and living paycheck to paycheck, Nussle says. To hit the point home, he had the audience look to their left and their right, noting two out of those three people are struggling with financial health.
“At the center of everything we do is our member and our membership,” Nussle said. “That puts us on the same side as elected officials. We call them members, they call them voters.”
Nussle left attendees with a simple ask during their visits with policymakers this week, and in their future advocacy efforts.
“Share your unique story, back it up with data,” he said. “Ask to have the tools you need to do more for your members and communities and tell them that’s why you need it: to do more.”
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