NEWPORT, R.I. -- Interest in NAFCU's 26th Annual Volunteers Conference, held at the Newport Marriot Hotel was so great that the association says attendance at this year's conference would have easily surpassed all previous records--if NAFCU hadn't closed registration early because its hotel room block sold out.
This is the first year that registration for the Volunteers Conference had to be closed and room blocks in two overflow hotels reserved to accommodate the 342 delegates and their 142 guests.
Sharing his view on what credit union directors should expect from Washington, D.C. and the financial services industry in the coming year, NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker kicked off the event advising attendees to embrace change.
"We live in exponential times in the sense that the world is changing rapidly and that is not a bad thing," said Becker. "Are credit unions better off than they were in 1934--yes they are. People don't like change, it brings discomfort but the reality is there is going to be change at an exponential rate so we have to keep up."
Addressing the declining number of credit unions, he says it still is not as great as the decline going on among banks and thrifts. Some of the contributing factors for the credit union decline include growth and mergers.
"What's going on is not necessarily bad but we do have some work to do attracting younger members, serving the growing Hispanic market, and with respect to continuing to grow our membership two things essential to being their primary financial institution are to hold their mortgage and have them do Internet banking with you. These are two very important products that credit unions should start to provide directly not through an aggregate."
He adds that the GAO study analyzing credit unions versus banks didn't delve deep enough."I don't think the income level comparison when it comes to banks is really what we should be talking about, our focus should be objectively looking at how various people in income levels are served--and I don't mean how people feel about service but hard data," said Becker. "For example for people earning $40,000 or less in 2005 credit unions approved 75% of mortgages but the bank and thrift mortgage approval for that income level was only 63% and 65% respectively."