CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle addresses a record-breaking crowd of more than 5,300 Monday morning at CUNA GAC.

Nussle: Cooperative superpowers are ‘our best asset’

March 11, 2019

CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle reflected on a successful 2018 in credit union advocacy during his address to the CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference (GAC) Monday, but said the techniques used to achieve those victories will be needed more than ever in the years ahead. Nussle’s remarks before a record-breaking 5,300-plus credit union leaders were streamed live on Facebook, and was viewed more than 1,800 times Monday. The speech can be viewed in its entirety below.

Last year was “one of the most amazing years in the books for credit unions,” Nussle said, both for the wins achieved and the more than $16 billion in benefits provided to members and non-members alike. Credit unions added nearly five million members last year and grew five times faster than the U.S. population.

Nussle also thanked the credit union movement for their work for members in the tough times, including most recently with the 35-day federal government shutdown that affected more than 800,000 employees. 

Credit union efforts during the shutdown, according to a CUNA survey of more than 500 credit unions, showed more than 60,000 federal employees turned to their credit union for support. Credit unions provided more than $46 million in low- or no-interest loans while over 11,000 members were afforded loan extensions and other modifications, often with associated fees waived. 

“Our survey also revealed that more than 3,000 joined a credit union to help them get through the shutdown's financial challenges,” Nussle added. “Time and time through history, but especially in 2018, when people needed real help that only can come from other real people, our credit union people are there.”

Nussle said its credit unions’ ‘cooperative superpowers” are at the heart of the movement, what it’s able to do and what it means for the future.

“I think sometimes we forget how big of a deal, how motivating, how instrumental the credit union difference and what is at the foundation of what we do and how we do it, how that works in such an amazing superpower sort of way,” Nussle said. “It’s our best asset, and it’s our competitive advantage. No one else has this.”

Looking ahead, Nussle said credit unions are facing attacks on several fronts, and those superpowers are what is going to get the credit union movement through.

“We face three big challenges that are attacking our industry,” said Nussle. “First, the model attack – bank hypocrisy and over-regulation threatens our very existence. Second, the market attack – the marketplace is changing, and credit unions need to get on board to keep our relevance. And third, the ‘heart’ attack – if we don’t cooperate with each other we will never overcome our collective challenges.”

To help combat these attacks, Nussle said he had three asks:

  • Take personal advocacy action by telling stories about the credit union difference to policymakers;
  • Help CUNA open America’s eyes to a credit union through engagement with CUNA’s Awareness initiative; and
  • Use “cooperative superpowers to be fiercely cooperative” with credit union leaders within the movement.

“I believe if we do that, everything you do all year long for your members, combined with all of that, is going to make all the difference in the world,” he said.

Nussle’s speech also included his announcement that Vice President Mike Pence would address the GAC Tuesday.

►Read more conference coverage from CUNA News, and get live updates on Twitter via @CUNA_News,@cumagazine, @CUNA, and by using the #CUNAGAC hashtag. You can also follow the conference on Facebook and Instagram. For a complete schedule and information on keynote speakers and breakout sessions, visit the CUNA GAC event page.