Bynum Downplays Award Prestige
Fresh from being named winner of the 2014 Ned Gramlich Award for Responsible Finance, Hope Federal Credit Union CEO Bill Bynum said the existence and growth of the credit union deserves the most recognition.
The Opportunity Finance Network is a national organization of community development financial institutions and the Gramlich Award is its highest honor. The OFN will present Bynum with the award Thursday at its national conference in Denver.
“I think of how Hope started, as a church project run out of a church office in Jackson, Mississippi, and how it has grown to have around 30,000 members, from four states. How it has helped so many people get out of the debt trap of pawn shops and payday lenders and enabled to them to better their lives, that is my most important achievement,” Bynum said, adding “so far” because, as he pointed out, he is only 56.
“I don’t want it to seem too much like I have finished working,” Bynum added. “There is so much left to do.”
Bynum reported Hope has been growing steadily and has continued to push into parts of the mid-South and Mississippi Delta where bank branches have closed.
“There are more and more areas where there are no more brick and mortar financial institutions and where those other sorts of companies, the pay day lenders and such have grown up, so we are trying to reach into those areas,” Bynum said.
He reported that the credit union has been very pleased with its mobile app. Half of the members using the app are located in the most remote, underserved and impoverished areas where the credit union has no branch, he said.
“This proves the mobile app is doing just what we wanted it to do,” Bynum said. “Bringing banking services to the most unbanked.”
Bynum, who is vice-chairperson of the CFPB’s Consumer Advisory Board, acknowledged that people outside the credit union industry might be more familiar with Hope than credit unions are. However, he denied that he avoids speaking out on credit union industry issues.
“It’s a fair question,” Bynum said. “We are very focused on what we are doing with our members and in their communities, but we share the same regulatory restrictions as other credit unions. We just have had a pretty good working relationship with our regulators. When something comes up that we think its necessary to speak out about, then I do. I guess I am not someone who opposes regulation just because it’s regulation. We view it as part of doing business.”