LIVONIA, Mich. (4/27/15)--"We're all in this together" could have been the theme of last week's Michigan Credit Union League's Governmental Affairs Conference. Credit unions must engage both employees and members to share their advocacy message, panelists and speakers told attendees.
Cheryl Sclater, business and community development officer for ELGA CU, Burton, Mich., said her credit union makes political activism part of its culture. Part of that is educating younger employees when they join the organization.
Steve Dedene, manager of compliance and regulatory affairs at Credit Union ONE, Ferndale, Mich., said he relies on a network of credit union employees to help combat the regulatory burden the industry faces by asking them to write comment letters on important regulatory proposals.
Ryan Donovan, CUNA chief advocacy officer, said grassroots activism is critical for the movement. He said that banks have been around in some form for about 4,000 years, but the idea of credit unions is at most 150 years old. "Wherever there's been a credit union system ... folks have had to fight for the right to maintain it," Donovan said.
He said it is the members who benefit the most from the credit union system. It's up to credit unions to educate their members and get them involved in the political process.
Also during the conference, State Rep. Anthony Forlini (R-Harrison Township), chair of the House Financial Services Committee, told attendees that updating the Michigan Credit Union Act would allow credit unions to better serve their members. Forlini said that while he believes some regulation is necessary, he is hoping to reduce the burden on credit unions.
Credit union representatives also had a chance to ask regulators questions in person about industry oversight. The Regulator Roundtable Session was headed by John Kolhoff, director of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services, and Jason Schultz, Naational Credit Union Administration (NCUA) consumer access analyst, and Larry Schoeberl, NCUA supervisory examiner.