NAFCU Expands Field of Membership
MONTREAL – NAFCU's June 23 announcement that it opened up membership to state chartered credit unions will extend the trade association's reach to approximately 2,500 more credit unions.
The move will give the federally insured cooperatives new opportunities to access previously untapped resources related to federal advocacy, NAFCU said.
However, the trade said it does not plan to expand its advocacy activities to the state level, and its state chartered credit union members will not be permitted to serve on NAFCU's board or vote in board elections.
The bylaws change was unveiled at NAFCU's business meeting at its annual conference in Montreal. Some federally insured, state chartered credit unions already had full membership privileges as a result of converting from federal to state charters under NAFCU's once a member, always a member policy, the trade association said.
NAFCU stressed the move will not change its existing structure, products or services, saying it was business as usual.
“The NAFCU board made this unanimous decision because our industry is rapidly evolving, and in a changing marketplace, credit unions are seeking more from their advocacy organizations. We’ve heard that message and are ready to rise to the challenge,” President/CEO Dan Berger said.
In an onsite interview with CU Times, Berger and Ed Templeton, NAFCU board chair and president/CEO of the $721 million SRPFCU, emphasized NAFCU's plans to continue its focus on federal issues.
They said while they do not have a specific projection of how many state chartered credit unions will join NAFCU, the association is prepared to accommodate a growing membership because the organization's structure is scalable.
“Our platform will remain the same in that our focus is on federal issues,” Berger said. “The difference is that we will provide those services to state chartered credit unions.”
He added that state leagues already do an excellent job of handling state level issues, and NAFCU has always referred credit unions with questions on those issues to the appropriate parties.
The decision to restrict state chartered credit unions from participating in NAFCU governance ties into the association's commitment to federal issues, they said.
“We don't want to lose our focus, and the best way to protect that is to keep [serving on the board and voting in board elections] limited to federally chartered credit unions,” Templeton said.
When asked why membership is open to federally insured credit unions and not privately insured ones, the two leaders cited their belief that all financial institutions should be federally insured, and the fact NAFCU was founded nearly 50 years ago to create federal insurance and the NCUA.
Read more: NAFCU will not change its name ...
NAFCU updated its tagline to include the phrase “federally insured credit unions;” however, Berger and Templeton said its name and overall branding strategy will not change.
The benefits of membership to state chartered credit unions include the best of lobbying on Capitol Hill, and numerous training and education resources, Berger said, noting that NAFCU is currently receiving many inquiries for assistance with TILA/RESPA compliance.
“Our expansion is good for the industry, and is all about moving the industry forward and providing advocacy, education and compliance,” Templeton said.
Attendees at NAFCU's annual conference in Montreal shared mostly positive reactions to the news.
Sheuch-Fong Hsu and Amanda Ingalls, who both serve on the board of the $800 million Boulder, Colo.-based Premier Members Credit Union, said the announcement was timely because their credit union moved to a state charter last month as the result of a merger with Boulder Valley Credit Union.
“I think it's great,” Ingalls said. “It ties into credit unions’ goals of being accessible to everyone, expanding their SEGs and letting everyone join. So why not start in your own backyard?”
Daniel Maynard, CFO/treasurer for the $69 million Crossroads Community Credit Union in Cheektowaga, N.Y., added, “It's great because it gives state-chartered credit unions the opportunity to lobby for federal issues, and NAFCU will receive more dues, giving it the ability to advocate even more for the industry. We belong to NAFCU, and they do a great job for us.”
Guy Petroro, SVP and chief lending officer for the Miami Lakes, Fla.-based, $172 million Jetstream Federal Credit Union, agreed the change is positive, but also anticipates some form of backlash.
“We’ll be waiting to see what the ramifications are from the other side,” he said. “But it's a good thing, right now things are so split, and more credit unions are moving to state charters, so it's definitely a good thing for those that are state chartered.”
CU Times requested a comment from CUNA on NAFCU's membership expansion, to which Media Relations Manager Vicki Christner responded, “We don't comment on the internal workings of other associations.”