CHICAGO -- Credit unions are no longer the best kept secret in banking, but they have to build on their popularity by preparing for all but certain uncertainty.
That's the advice NAFCU President/CEO Fred Becker gave attendees at the opening session of the group's annual conference.
He said demographic and cultural changes and new technology combined with political change will drive major societal shifts.
Becker noted that credit unions have much going for them as they forge ahead, including a great reputation among the public and their members. He also said credit unions will be successful because they can "build on the strength of the cooperative system to deal with the challenges."
While it won't always be easy, credit unions "have no choice but to prepare ourselves for new and unforeseen external risks," Becker said.
NAFCU Chairman Brad Beal, in his final address as the group's leader, said trust, reliability and the public's confidence are among the three top things that credit unions have going for them.
He said the financial crisis made credit unions even more important in people's lives.
"I can't remember a time when everyday people needed credit unions more," he said.
He added that credit unions have a bright future, in part because the problems at the banks have resulted in more consumers being familiar with credit unions.
As president/CEO of Nevada Federal Credit Union, Beal has been at ground zero for some of the nation's toughest financial conditions. However, Beal did not mention the problems of his home state or region during his talk.