Pushing Forward for a Shared, Strategic Vision
Our vision for credit unions’ future that “Americans choose credit unions as their best financial partner” is aimed to help unite, guide and achieve a shared, strategic agenda – all based on our shared values.
At CUNA, our goal is annually returning $20 billion in financial benefits to consumers, and having 55 million Americans select a credit union as their primary financial partner – all by 2023. It will take considerable effort, but I am confident we will get there.
To be successful, CUNA is focused on the three shared agenda items – removing barriers, raising awareness and fostering service excellence. In the 18 months since the vision initiative was unveiled, much has been accomplished. Consider:
In January the NCUA issued its proposal on risk-based capital. We strongly believe that if the proposal were adopted without significant change, it would limit credit union service to members – especially in business lending and service to members in rural areas.
We urged credit unions to voice their comments about the proposal, and they did. Agency leadership already has told us that they are taking our views seriously and intend to make significant changes, based on the comments of more than 2,050 people who weighed in on the proposal (a record), and what they learn at the listening sessions now underway.
Of course we’re working on Capitol Hill to remove barriers, too. Three regulatory relief bills pending in the U.S. Senate – which have already passed the U.S. House of Representatives – got there with our support. These bills address privacy notifications, share insurance coverage on specialty accounts (to give credit unions parity with banks), and membership for all credit unions in the federal home loan bank system. We hope that all three will be passed by the Senate and signed by the president by year's end. And there are more bills offering regulatory relief in the legislative pipeline.
When lawmakers were discussing reform of the tax code, our “Don't Tax My Credit Union” campaign mobilized the strength of our grassroots, generating more than 1.3 million contacts with lawmakers – in nine months’ time – from credit unions and their supporters, urging them “don't tax my credit union.” And when the House Ways and Means Committee in February released a “discussion draft” of a tax reform plan; it contained no changes to our tax exemption.
That's “raising awareness.”
CUNA continues to work to ensure that the credit union point of view on key issues gets out in the press, online and in social media. We took immediate action when a Wall Street Journal article on interest-rate risk took an unbalanced view. My letter to the editor of that paper was published and corrected the record; we also armed the Leagues and others with information to rebut the article if they were asked about it.
We are also making plans to celebrate when credit unions reach 100 million members later this summer. The visibility of this milestone will remind everyone of the growing influence that credit unions have.
One of the surest measures of the success of a trade association is the engagement of its membership in the programs and services it offers – particularly in helping them learn techniques and methods for better serving their own members. Through the first half of this year, our “Center for Professional Development” worked with thousands of credit union staff, who completed more than 48,000 courses and nearly 52,000 exams.
These are just some of the activities CUNA is engaged in to advance the vision initiative.
Each of us, no matter where we work in the credit union system, has an important role to play in achieving that vision.
Today nearly 46 million people call a credit union their primary financial institution and last year we returned $8.6 billion in annual financial benefits to the American people. The goals of the vision – to raise the PFI number to 55 million and annual financial benefits to $20 billion in just nine short years – looms large.
But I think, by working together, we can get there much faster. Then we’ll continue to raise the bar and honor the legacy of the credit union movement's pioneers in our own remarkable way.
Bill Hampel is interim president/CEO of CUNA. He can be reached at email@example.com or (202) 638-5777.