I'm excited and honored to lead CUNA at this moment in the history of the credit union movement. Nearly 7,000 credit unions serving 100 million memberships make our movement a large and formidable force both in business and politics.
What really defines credit unions is the individual hometown connections that each has to its members. CUNA and the leagues play an important role in supporting every local credit unions’ needs.
Growing up in the Midwest and serving in Congress as a representative from Iowa, I admired credit unions for their focus in meeting local, community needs in ways few other organizations did.
Now in my second month at CUNA, I continue to learn more about the association and our work on behalf of our member credit unions, leagues, and business partners. Three priorities for CUNA are strongly evident to me:
1. Protect the tax exemption;
2. Reduce regulatory burden; and
3. Push forward with our shared vision that “Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner.”
We’re also urging that merchants be held accountable for data breaches (visit cuna.org for more). Much work exists, but the cause we fight for is the right one.
As the nation continues to recover from the financial crisis big banks inflicted on it, it’s clear to me that credit unions have done an outstanding job building a high degree of trust with their members.
Credit unions protected their members’ assets during the crunch, they kept credit available, and continued lending to enable members to buy homes and cars, open businesses, and create jobs.
That leadership and careful stewardship of members’ financial health helped credit unions maintain and ultimately strengthen a high-level of confidence among their members.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI)—the only national cross-industry measure of customer satisfaction in the U.S.—shows the credit union satisfaction score at 85, while the benchmark for banks is 78. That’s quite a difference.
In fact, credit unions have led banks in satisfaction since 2008, the first year the index included them.
And the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index reports 60% of respondents say they find credit unions trustworthy, while only 30% say they trust big, national banks.
But that high-level of trust and confidence isn’t new to me. As a member of Congress I appreciated credit unions’ cooperative business model.
I understand the difference and the opportunity that it presents us as we raise awareness of credit unions and fight to secure the policy and business priorities critical to our future.
The scope and reach of our movement is an incredibly powerful tool and one many other groups want but will never attain. Credit unions reach into all corners of our country—red and blue states; and urban, suburban, and rural communities.
In early meetings with the CUNA board and staff I’ve emphasized my management philosophy: Listen, learn, help— and lead.
It’s an approach to management that has served me well in my career. I’ll take the same approach as we move forward together to leverage the unity and strength of the credit union movement for the benefit of the tens of millions of people whose best interests we serve.