Niche Trade Groups Brim With Special Services
When credit union trade associations are brought up in a conversation, CUNA and NAFCU are often the first ones that comes to mind. But there are plenty of smaller niche groups making people sit up and take notice.
There are groups that cater to marketing and CUSOs and technology and specific groups such as teachers, police officers, scientists and more. But what exactly is the purpose of these groups other than to take members’ dues and write press releases? Do they work on the credit union’s behalf in Washington? Do they go to bat for the smaller credit unions when things go south?
Here’s a look at five specialty groups that work with and for credit unions across the country.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night: the National Council of Postal Credit Unions. NCPCU, headquartered in California, is the only trade association dedicated to the education and networking of postal credit unions nationwide. The primary purpose of the group for more than 30 years is to promote a channel of cooperation, exchange, and consultation for issues related to the U.S. Postal Service as they affect credit unions.
“Postal Credit Unions are some of the oldest credit unions in the United States. Many of them have charters that predate the Federal Credit Union Act,” said Kevin Yaeger chairman of the National Council of Postal Credit Unions and president/CEO of the $38 million Post Office Credit Union in Madison, Wis. “In fact, the U.S. Postal Service was instrumental in chartering credit unions around the nation in the 1920s and early 1930s.”
The National Council of Postal Credit Unions is the only trade association dedicated exclusively to postal credit unions. Each year, during the annual meeting and convention, postal credit unions have an opportunity to hear from, and provide input to, top management of the U.S. Postal Service. The conference program includes both credit union topics and strategic updates from the Postal Service. Every year a high-level speaker from the Postal Service is on the program. Last year, Patrick R. Donahoe, postmaster general, spoke to the group. The group currently has $82,963 in assets and $156,827 in income, according to Guidstar.
“As a whole, postal credit unions have been impacted in two ways, consolidation within the credit union movement and plant closures and downsizing by the U.S. Postal Service,” Yaeger said. “Many of our member-credit unions have switched to community charters in order to sustain growth, while remaining focused on their postal base. In recent years, some of the smaller postal credit unions have been merged into larger non-postal credit unions. The consolidation issue has been a standing item on our group’s agenda for years and we’ll continue to keep a close eye on how changes at the Postal Service will impact our member-credit unions.”
Montana Credit Unions for Community Development is the charitable arm of the Montana Credit Union Network and helps implement programs that improve the social and economic well-being of Montanans. Located in Helena, Mont. it delivers programs reaching consumers and credit union members across the state.
MCUCD provides marketing and technical support to the credit unions for each of the programs they administer. Currently, MCUCD’s efforts center in financial and consumer education, free tax services and matched savings accounts.
MCUCD works directly with credit unions and community organizations to support their programs that strengthen and educate members and the community. When a credit union or partner calls looking for help to prepare for a classroom financial education presentation, this organization provides appropriate tools and resources. In addition, it advocates at the state level to encourage law makers to support programs that are or can help Montana families.
Debra Kelly, compliance manager at the $88.5 million Sky FCU in Livingston, Mont., said her credit union belongs to the organization because “they have a genuine desire to reach out and help–in so many areas–with their member credit unions and the communities and members that the credit unions serve.”
The National Coalition of Firefighters Credit Unions offers its services to all credit unions primarily serving firefighters and their families. Credit union paid membership is voluntary. Funds received go toward providing conference scholarships and access to the benefits offered by NCOFCU.
NCOFCU was officially incorporated in 2010, and offers an annual meeting and educational conference, scholarships towards attending NCOFCU conferences, networking opportunities with credit union colleagues, access to membership database, members share policies and procedures, discussion forums, exclusive CEO listserv network, exclusive volunteer listserv network, NCOFCU voting privileges, member discounts on purchases and webinars, and unlimited staff and volunteer participation.
“After attending many conferences, serving as a volunteer director and firefighter and later CEO of a firefighter credit union, I found myself sitting in rooms filled with people I really didn’t know, and not much in common with,” said Grant Sheehan CEO of NCOFCU. “It was then that I decided to look to putting the directors and staff of firefighter credit unions in the same room. From that point on, the attending firefighters and staff found that the brotherhood of firefighters and CEOs bonding and open round table sharing of ideas and solutions was a terrific benefit that they have not found at any other conferences they have attended.”
What makes the National Association of Credit Union Chairmen (NACUC) located in California unique is that it is an all-volunteer group dedicated to the education and networking of credit union chairmen. Attendance at NACUC’s Roundtable Forum is limited to chairmen and volunteer board members only. Chairmen who attend the Roundtable Forum prepare white papers and provide in-depth Call Report data. While the topics change every year, the format has not changed in more than 30 years.
“All trade groups face challenges regarding membership in difficult economic times but we consistently get comments like “I can only attend one conference a year and this is the one that I always take back ideas from,” said Chuck Smith, chairman of the board, $264.5 million First New York Federal Credit Union in Schenectady, N.Y. “This is powerful in that unlike most conferences where we simply are part of a huge audience and get talked at, NACUC Roundtables require us to come to the small group discussions prepared to contribute. Participants are encouraged to prepare position papers on each of the roundtable discussion questions prior to the conference.”
The National Association of Credit Union Supervisory and Auditing Committees’ main objective is to provide education for supervisory committee’s that is very specific to the committee’s needs. The group also invites and has participants from internal auditors and credit union board members and credit union staff at their annual conference and our periodic webinars on topics of interest.
What sets NACUSAC apart from some of the other organizations is that it was established by supervisory committee members to educate supervisory committee members.
“Most of the CPA firms that specialize in credit unions have a training conference. However, their primary focus is normally only to present their staff members and market their services,” said Gerry Dunning, chairman of the supervisory committee, $1.2 billion Caltech Employees Federal CU in Pasadena, Calif., and supervisory committee member, $1.1 billion Partners Federal Credit Union in Burbank, Calif. “At NACUSAC we have our annual conference where NACUSAC controls the agenda for the program and we bring in speakers from multiple CPA firms and supervisory committee members to present topics that are timely for the committee’s.”