“There’s all this bad news circulating—the government shutdown, the debt ceiling, all the other things you’re reading about,” Gentile said at the CUNA Community Credit Union & Growth Conference in Uncasville, Conn.
“But credit unions are a bright spot in the country. More people want to do business with businesses that do good. They want to buy ‘green’ and shop local,” he said. Credit unions must recognize this environment as an opportunity to show they're the “good guys,” the values-based financial services providers of the marketplace, Gentile encouraged.
“Big banks are our biggest promoters by doing bad things—like adopting anticonsumer policies, getting government bailouts,” but it's up to credit unions alone, to seize the opportunities, he said.
Gentile said it helps both membership growth and credit union political advocacy efforts when credit unions get out and tell their stories. He said the stories should show the shared cooperative values of:
- Being member-owned;
- Being collaborative—credit unions help each other;
- Being member-centric—it’s all about what is good for the member; and
- Being dedicated to consumers’ financial well-being.
He said that while getting the good stories out will enhance the credit union reputation, meeting the Unite for Good goal of becoming the primary financial institution of 55 million Americans by 2023, up from the current 45.3 million, will also require finely tuned financial services.