Positioning CUs for Strong Growth

Our singular focus is serving the best interests of CU members.

February 1, 2015

I want to call your attention to the excellent info graphic (at right) that ran in last month’s issue of Credit Union Magazine. The story it tells of credit union strength and resilience is remarkable.CU Financial Expectations

As the 114th Congress gets underway and we continue our long-fought effort to reduce credit unions’ regulatory burden and protect our tax exemption, I’m committed to ensuring elected officials and regulators know and appreciate the strength of the credit union system.

Our singular focus is on serving the best interests of members. It’s in that understanding that legislators can fully appreciate the benefits of credit union service and how we’re different.

That distinction will be increasingly important because even though credit unions didn’t cause the financial crisis, we continue to be mired in regulations meant to curb big banks and other bad actors from triggering another one. New regulatory mandates by Congress, NCUA, and others hinder credit union service to members. High on our list of priorities is to ensure NCUA’s revised risk based capital proposal—released for comment in mid-January— does as little harm as possible.

We’ve reorganised CUNA to unite the association to serve the best interests of credit unions. Cross-functional teams with common goals and priorities now work under a new umbrella structure we’re calling 1CUNA.

The distinctions between departments and our Washington and Madison offices are gone, replaced by a unified structure and team. We’re one team focused on understanding and meeting your needs.

We’re moving forward with a strong and forceful agenda to advance our shared vision that Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner. To do that, we’ll continue to work hard to remove barriers, create awareness, and foster service excellence for credit unions.

We started 2015 on a strong foundation: Credit unions are growing faster than any other sector in our industry, and projections for growth this year are as strong as ever. Exhibit one is the infographic, with data prepared by CUNA’s economics team. Its analysis of the growth in loans and savings bodes well for credit union balance sheets. Predictions of decreasing delinquency rates are a positive sign regarding the nation’s economic health and members’ increasing financial security.

Recent surveys and research show that consumers like and trust credit unions. Just last month, Gallup’s consumer engagement measure reported that credit union members are among the most actively engaged segment of consumers with their financial institutions (51%). That’s far higher engagement than the 17% the big banks can claim.

As the Gallup analysts observed, “engaged customers represent a bank’s best opportunity for organic growth. They’re more loyal, more likely to recommend the bank to family and friends, and account for a bigger share of wallet.”

That’s great news as we encourage more members to make credit unions their primary financial institution. The American Customer Satisfaction Index, Harris Poll, and others all confirm we’re on the right path.

Our challenge is raising the bar to increase credit union awareness (among members and nonmembers) and remove barriers so we can grow in an increasingly competitive marketplace.