KANSAS CITY, Mo. (12/12/14)--New players in the financial services game such as Apple and Wal-Mart may have an advantage because of the fewer regulations they shoulder compared with financial institutions, but according to Dennis Pierce, chair of the Credit Union National Association, credit unions still have the ability to lead the marketplace.
"Niche players are a big challenge because they can cherry-pick business and take away revenue streams," said Pierce, who's also president/CEO of CommunityAmerica CU, Lenexa, Kan., with $1.9 billion in assets, during an interview with the Kansas City Business Journal (Dec. 10). "Credit unions and banks carry heavier regulatory burdens than non-banks, so it's difficult.
"There is still lots of opportunity, though. Those who do it right can still be effective, but you can't just go with the 'Field of Dreams' method where if you build it they will come. You've got to work hard at being relevant and staying relevant."
Driving that relevance, built on the association's message of positioning credit unions as America's best financial partner, continues to be the headline goal for CUNA, and for Pierce, who has served on the trade association's board for the last nine years.
In leading the trade association as chair since April, meanwhile, Pierce already has faced his fair share of challenges.
The Kansas City Business Journal noted in the profile that soon after Pierce was elected as chair, CUNA lost its former president/CEO, Bill Cheney, who took the CEO position at SchoolsFirst FCU, Santa Ana, Calif., with $10.3 billion in assets.
But Pierce took the transition in stride.
"He claims it didn't have anything to do with me," Pierce told the Business Journal in jest. "The association had to go through a search for a new CEO. It's one of those things where when you take over as chairman of a volunteer board, you don't want to have to replace the CEO, but fortunately it worked out well."
Pierce is referring to the trade association's decision to select Jim Nussle, eight-term Iowa congressman and the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush, as CUNA's new president/CEO in September.
So far, Pierce said he likes what he's seen out of the organization's new leader.
"He's very well connected from a Washington standpoint," Pierce said. "I'm certainly pleased with that. He should be a good addition for the association."