Jim Nussle

Refining our focus on financial well-being for all

Partnerships with other mission-focused entities can multiply our reach many times over.

May 3, 2022

Credit unions just wrapped up National Credit Union Youth Month and Financial Literacy Month, which provided an opportunity to highlight our movement-wide commitment to Financial Well-Being for All™.

Our engagement with this idea is amazing to see in action, and we’re already seeing a positive reaction as we’re more deliberate about our work.

Since we unveiled Financial Well-Being for All in March 2021, CUNA, leagues, credit unions, and system partners have worked out exactly what that means for our movement.

Leagues continue to foster collaboration between credit unions and government agencies, universities, and nonprofits to find new ways to reach populations left behind by the old way of doing things.

The 2021 CUNA Award winners featured many credit unions that were recognized for using every tool at their disposal—and creating some new ones—to better the financial health of their communities, members, and staff.

Financial Well-Being for All was even a central part of our biggest advocacy win of 2021: The withdrawal of expanded Internal Revenue Service reporting requirements. 

The credit union voice said this would have harmed financial inclusion and access, and a bipartisan congressional majority agreed.

That’s why we say Financial Well-Being for All is the lens through which we conduct all of our work, because we look at everything through that perspective.

But a lens also helps us focus, and that’s what we continue to do: refine our focus on Financial Well-Being for All. 

‘Financially healthy communities can thrive and grow.’

With so much at stake and so much information to work through, we’ll have our challenges. I was asked at a panel discussion recently: With all our access to new data sources, what happens if it doesn’t say what we think it does?

It’s an interesting question because there’s certainly a chance the data will show us a different picture. It might seem like a weakness if data shows us where we’re falling short, but it’s the opposite: that’s an opportunity. 

Not just any opportunity, but a specific problem we can get to work on solving. How can we fix our weak spots if we don’t know they exist?

Data is already showing us opportunities, and credit unions are responding by filling those service gaps. Credit builder loans, first-time homebuyer programs, and financial education focus on vulnerable groups that include students and seniors.

I’m much more interested in how to improve than finding data that confirms my world view. It’s how we continue to evolve our movement and ensure we’re always relevant to those who rely on us, and that’s how CUNA and leagues position our members to succeed. That’s where we excel. 

The league and credit union partnerships with other mission-focused entities can multiply our reach many times over.

Financial well-being for all

We’ll refine the focus of Financial Well-Being for All as long as needed because we’re committed to “for all.” We set that goal deliberately: we don’t need to limit ourselves or our ambition.

Leaders in our movement can tell you: we’re not satisfied with limits. We want expansion, solutions, and the ability to do more.

That’s how we make more financially healthy people, which leads to financially healthy communities. 

Financially healthy communities can thrive and grow. I’m proud to be part of a movement dedicated to making that happen.

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