A panel of member business leaders shared what they like about their credit unions Monday at the 2023 CUNA Lending Council Conference in Denver.
In short: shared values, strong relationships, and excellent service. Another common thread driving them to credit unions: egregious behavior by the large banks they used to use.
Moderating the session were Herb White, president/CEO at $1.8 billion asset Sharonview Federal Credit Union in Fort Mill, S.C., and John Arnold, vice president of business services at $2.7 billion asset AmeriCU Credit Union in Rome, N.Y.
“When looking at food security challenges, Ent is our largest partner,” he says. “They do food drives and raise money for us. Finding an organization that has the same values and serves the same people we support makes it a match made in heaven.”
Melissa Dahlman-Babers, who owns an American Family Insurance agency, used a large bank when she moved to Colorado in 2001, setting up multiple business and personal accounts.
In January 2021, when she went to pay her bookkeeping service, her card was declined. The same happened with another card.
“They’d shut down all of my accounts with no reason, and ended the relationship,” she recalls. “It put me in a huge hurt: I couldn’t pay my employees, rent, or other expenses. I had no money until they sent me cashier’s checks for everything.”
Frantic, Dahlman-Babers called a woman she’d met in a networking group who worked for $4.3 billion asset Canvas Credit Union in Englewood, Colo. Within 24 hours, the credit union set up all new accounts for her.
“I was able to continue with my business,” she says. “I’m the ultimate spokesperson for credit unions.”
Charlie Williams, executive managing director, multi-family capital markets, at Newmark, recalls seeking financing for a project at the bank he used. The bank didn’t want the loan because it was being acquired.
He went to $7.8 billion asset Bellco Credit Union in Greenwood Village, Colo., and closed on a loan in two weeks.
“Every big bank in the U.S. talks about relationships and customer service,” Williams says. “They mean people who have substantial deposits. They cater to their institutions, not people. When we contact Bellco, we get a live person. Relationships matter. That’s what’s beautiful about credit unions.”
“By design, everything a bank does is for the benefit of shareholders,” Arnold adds. “What credit unions do is for the benefit of members.”