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Twenty-five years ago, credit unions were in many ways still in the dark ages, taking their first wobbly steps up from their cigar box-and-file drawer roots toward becoming full-service financial institutions.

That was just four years after Ed Callahan left the NCUA board, having led a fundamental transformation of our industry. At about the same time, I entered the banking business, drafting comment letters to the FDIC and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on behalf of my employer as the banking industry itself was continuing to re-shape in the wake of deregulation and the resulting thrift crisis. Things haven’t slowed down any. Quite the contrary, as the rate of change and challenge in financial services only continues to increase.

As part of that, there has been a shakeout in our movement, with thousands of credit unions vanishing. Either they couldn’t or wouldn’t move away from those days of primitive delivery, they succumbed to the financial misalignment between small size and the scope and cost of post-crisis regulatory burden, or they were overwhelmed by the revolution of technology and competition. But in the years to come, that same revolution can play directly into the strengths of today’s credit unions … if we choose to let it.

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