Guest Opinion: Economy Grows From Partnership
We never forget defining moments in history and where we were when they were defined. That certainly is true of the financial crisis that rocked our country’s financial system, businesses and our overall economy in 2008. Like other industries, credit unions strongly felt the impact of the lack of demand for credit, mortgage foreclosures, and hits to fee income as a result of heavy regulatory burden.
Credit unions still want to remain true to their mission of providing their members with outstanding service, a full range of products and services, better rates and lower fees. All quite challenging considering the environment in which they’ve been doing business.
It became clear that credit unions needed innovative programs to help with loan volume, noninterest income and transaction volume for debit and credit cards. As the financial crisis wreaked havoc on other businesses, such as the U.S. automakers, it became the perfect storm that led CU Solutions Group to develop Invest in America.
Launched in 2008, IIA's mission is three-fold. First, form partnerships with domestic auto companies where members get a specific member discount on new autos that then allows credit unions an opportunity to obtain the loan. IIA started with partnerships with GM and Chrysler. The GM partnership continues today.
Second, offer partnerships with large companies where there is a significant marketing revenue opportunity. IIA’s program with Sprint is in its eighth year. There are currently more than 1.2 million members taking advantage of the unique 10% discount generating over $800 million in annual Sprint revenue making it Sprint’s largest affiliate program. This year, credit unions and leagues will earn millions in marketing reimbursements.
Third, drive credit union credit and debit transactions. ShopAmerica has thousands of partners who offer discounts on their services bought with debit and credit cards online.
Nationwide, 3,000 credit unions, representing more than 70% of members, support IIA. The program has helped sell over 460,000 GM vehicles while generating an estimated $4.1 billion in credit union loans. Members have also saved $138 million on wireless services with Sprint and provided precious fee income for credit unions.
At the 2012 CUNA Governmental Affairs Conference, the program will be honored with the Herb Wegner Memorial Award for Outstanding Program. IIA has been a catalyst in creating great value for members and business opportunities for credit unions.
Dave Adams is president/CEO of the Michigan Credit Union League.
Contact 800-262-6285 or Dave.Adams@mcul.org