CUNA is now America's Credit Unions.
A stronger voice to advance the credit union industry.
I recently spoke at CU FinHealth, the National Credit Union Foundation’s annual conference exploring the credit unions’ role in improving people’s financial well-being.
I’m always struck when speaking in front of credit union audiences: these are rooms full of people who get it. They understand the incredible opportunities—and challenges—that come with our commitment to financial well-being for all, and they’re invested in this work.
After all, people who are part of the credit union movement have chosen to make people’s financial lives better.
That’s why I often find myself in the position of preaching to the choir, as the expression goes, which isn’t a bad place to be. I get to talk to leaders across the country who fully bought into the credit union difference and its ability to change lives.
The work we, as an industry, have done to this point is an impressive legacy. But it’s also representative of the old way of doing things; a way that has left too many people behind.
That’s why financial well-being for all is a new way of talking about the mission we’ve always had with a special focus on those we haven’t reached before. It’s a new verse to the song we know so well, and one that makes it easy to clearly articulate our “why.”
First and foremost: It’s the right thing to do. Credit unions were born as an opportunity for those outside mainstream financial services, and we continue that legacy today.
Second: It’s the smart thing to do. Financially healthy people make financially healthy communities, and that’s what we’re trying to build.
Lastly: It’s the relevant thing to do. Financial well-being for all helps us tell the credit union story, which is one of cooperation and service.
We’ve spent decades helping our members through good times and bad, from the Great Depression to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That special focus is what sets us apart in the marketplace. You simply can’t find a bank or fintech that puts the member above everything the way we do.
Recent crypto and bank collapses show that people want stability where their money is concerned. They want to be able to rely on their institution to safeguard their money—and everything that entails—not take risky bets without any guardrails.
The work we do every day doesn’t mean much if our movement isn’t around for future generations.
Financial well-being for all is an investment in our future. By making ourselves an irreplaceable part of our members’ lives, we become the partner they rely on at every step of their financial lives.
It’s about being proud of everything we do and fighting for the chance to do even more for those who need it most.
That’s cooperation at its finest, and the best of the credit union difference.
JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO at Credit Union National Association.