It might not take much to fill Harriet May’s petite shoes, Mike Mercer joked on Monday.
“But she’s a big legend to follow,” the new CUNA chairman said of his predecessor.
Mercer thanked GAC attendees for “being here and advancing the cooperative business model. Credit unions help people afford life—and that can’t happen without you.”
Mercer, president/CEO of Georgia Credit Union Affiliates, said there are real threats to the credit union business model, including attacks by banking trade groups and the “suffocating” regulatory burden.
He outlined three key issues affecting credit unions:
• Our times and the role of credit unions. Our nation’s huge challenges such as armed conflicts and financial stresses may make credit unions seem insignificant. But it’s important to remember that “our work helps people with their dreams,” Mercer said. “We’re on the 50-yard-line of the stadium of opportunity.”
• Our country’s challenges, including the high debt and a polarized government. “Volatility creates opportunities for credit unions—we’re the voice of reason, he said. “Maybe we should modify our motto to ‘Not for Wall Street, not for Washington, but for Main Street.
• Our personal responsibility. Our nation was built on individual freedom and personal responsibility—and so were credit unions. “Credit unions can serve members in their own ways” and shouldn’t have to contend with overbearing interference from the government.
This week, “Our personal responsibility is to amplify the credit union voice,” Mercer said. “This will happen on Capitol Hill.”