Jim Nussle

Going big for the 2019 CUNA GAC

'Our success or failure at collaboration will determine our outcome.'

March 6, 2019

Every year, the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) sets the tone for the year ahead.

As the largest event in the credit union movement, it’s a time to be visionary and bold. It’s a time to go big. And this year, we’re going bigger than ever.

The 2019 CUNA GAC will hit record-breaking metrics on several marks. We’ll have well over 5,000 credit union advocates again this year. A record number of credit union young professionals will be in attendance, including 100 Crashers, with representatives from every state.

And just as in past years, we’ve created a program of events for every niche of the industry.

Why are we going big this year? Well, a lot of reasons.

Bundled together, these reasons create a prime opportunity—or a perfect storm—for the industry, depending on how we respond to the moment.

Let’s look at why we’re working so hard to make this year’s conference special.

To start, we all must understand that the credit union movement faces a number of challenges both internally and externally. Our model continues to face attacks from big banks, many of which are simultaneously attempting to mimic us by adopting community- and consumer-first messaging.

At the same time, we’re striving to provide the latest innovations to our members, from banking apps to automated payments. We have many competitors who excel in bringing the latest technology to consumers. That capability is priceless.

To compete with traditional competitors and new entrants to financial services, we’ll need to stay on the cutting edge of technology. If we fall behind on technology, we risk falling out of relevance.

This is our next challenge. Our industry has been around for more than a century, but there’s no guarantee we’ll be here decades from now. We have to fight for our membership and take tactical steps to broaden our share of the marketplace.

This includes both bringing in more members and hiring the best talent to lead our industry into the future.

Our greatest challenge comes from within. Our success or failure at collaboration will determine our outcome.

Our movement is founded on cooperation—after all, we’re cooperatives. We need to leverage our cooperative superpowers.

We must see the value of working together as more beneficial than competing with each other. From my position, I see this very clearly. But I understand it may not be so obvious to those who have to worry first and foremost about your credit union.

I’m here to say, loudly and clearly, cooperation is essential to every credit union’s success. Our job at CUNA is to help make this happen. We strive to turn every challenge into an opportunity.

This is our moment to take on potential roadblocks and transform them into positive outcomes. The CUNA GAC is an important part of this effort.

I hope the 2019 CUNA GAC offers everyone an opportunity to learn more about our advocacy issues. It’s important to see how what we fight for directly impacts both your credit union and the entire movement.

We hope you’ll stay involved after the CUNA GAC and participate in advocacy campaigns that matter most to you and your members.

I know this event can feel like a whirlwind—there’s a lot to take in. But there’s purpose in all the excitement. Our industry has so much to fight for, and CUNA GAC is our chance to come together and reaffirm our priorities.

As credit union professionals, you serve your members. At CUNA, we serve you. It’s our mission to help you serve your members.

I hope you take in all the ways we’re facilitating cooperation in the industry during this year’s CUNA GAC.

It will be big, but it’s just the start.

JIM NUSSLE is president/CEO of Credit Union National Association.