Jim Nussle

CUinDenver: 3 paths for CU growth from CUNA’s Nussle

July 14, 2015

Above: CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle tells an audience of 3,000 international credit union leaders and advocates that CUNA and its league partners are “unleashing” an innovative 360-degree advocacy approach. (Photo by Ryan Kern/2015 WCUC)

DENVER (7/14/15)--Summoning the passion, vitality and commitment from Sunday evening’s World Council of Credit Union’s Distinguished Service Awards, CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle outlined CUNA’s plan to refresh the association’s value proposition, focus on advocacy and challenge its member credit unions to be stronger in the future at the co-hosted America’s Credit Union Conference and World Credit Union Conference in Denver Monday.

“Our future is not a place we are just going,” Nussle said. “It’s not a place we are just going toward randomly. To me our future is something we must deliberately create.”

Nussle lauded the inspiring work of Distinguished Service Award winners Dick Ensweiler; Roberto Rodgriques, Scott Kennedy and Aloun Ndombet-Assamba.

He told the audience of 3,000 attendees that “winning is growing” for America’s credit unions. “Growth is important. I don’t care where you are,” he said, “winning is about growing and for us to serve the future we have to have growth.”

Nussle, who was hired as CUNA’s president/CEO in September, said the CUNA board has provided him with a three-pronged challenge:

  • Refresh the association’s value proposition;
  • Focus on advocacy; and
  • Challenge CUNA’s member credit unions to achieve new heights.

Refreshing CUNA’s value proposition means reinventing its advocacy approach, Nussle said. Rather than focusing solely on governmental affairs--an area where credit unions have a history of success--he said CUNA and its league partners are “unleashing” an innovative 360-degree approach.

“We are unleashing it not only in Washington, not only on Congress, not only on our regulators, but on the state level as well,” he said. “We’re doing it in conjunction with our state partners.” And, the CUNA leader emphasized, CUNA is challenging credit union members, invigorating grassroots support.

“We will make that commitment to you that advocacy will continue to be Job One at CUNA, together with our league partners.”

Part of that 360-degree advocacy is creating awareness, and Nussle urged credit unions to break through the information glut to engage the general public. The central element of creating awareness is telling the credit union story.

Nussle cited four credit unions as examples of ones that have achieved success in helping their members achieve financial independence. (See graphic).


Click image to enlarge.

“The difference is the credit union difference,” Nussle said. “The difference is how you serve your members. And when we lead with the story we tell, that’s advocacy. That’s telling your story.”

Dispelling the notion of “coopetition”--a term unique to cooperatives that must compete within a collaborative environment--Nussle referenced his father’s 50 years of experience as a choir director in Iowa.

“It’s about taking different voices, giving them the same music and providing them with different parts to play,” he said. “You blend the different harmonies to create a more solid sound than you ever could individually.”

And, just as the CUNA board has challenged Nussle to move CUNA’s membership to new heights to create new harmonies, Nussle challenged CUNA’s membership to blend America’s 103 million credit union members to make an even  stronger  voice.

“We’ve got to engage not only our CEOs, employees and board members, but our 103 million members--because winning is growing.”

For more conference coverage, including Monday's keynote speaker Alan Mulally, visit