CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle and National Credit Union Foundation Executive Director Gigi Hyland.

The new ‘people helping people’

Financial well-being for all is the new definition of credit union philosophy.

May 5, 2022

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The new ‘people helping people’

CUNA President/CEO Jim Nussle and Gigi Hyland, executive director of the National Credit Union Foundation, emphasized the importance of Financial Well-Being for All™ during their keynote address at the 2022 Co-op Think Conference Wednesday in Chicago. 

"I believe financial well-being for all is the definition of people helping people as we go forward,” says Nussle, who likens the philosophy to a beloved campfire song. “We all know the words but we need new verses.”

Today’s complex world of personal finance provides context for those new verses, Nussle explains. 

According to recent research: 

  • More than 77% of respondents in a recent survey reported feeling anxious about their finances.
  • About 60%  of consumers earn less now than they did before the pandemic.
  • Roughly half (48%) of workers who quit their jobs in 2021 did so to deal with child care issues.

Most of these consumers are defined as asset limited income constrained and employed, or ALICE, Nussle says. 

“These are your members and your employees,” Nussle says. “We all know what financial challenges do to people physically and mentally.”



Hyland notes that credit unions were initially founded to help French-Canadian workers who were struggling financially.

"In many ways nothing has changed,” she says. “Those same struggles exist today. But the financial world is more complex and racial inequities are more profound. The wealth gap is growing ever wider. Credit unions' ‘why’ is based on humanity.”

Nussle adds that financial well-being provides a positive advocacy message for credit unions. 

“The most compelling stories with lawmakers are those that connect to the people in the districts they serve,” he says. “Having a strong story about how you help people and backing it up with data is the No. 1 priority. No. 2 is showing how to do even more to help the people you serve.”

Meeting these challenges is at the heart of the credit union mission, Nussle says.

“Once in a while you will hear someone say, ‘One margin, no mission,’” he says. “I’m here to tell you ‘no mission, no credit union.’ Otherwise, we’re just like everybody else.”